How to make training less disruptive

Training is a necessary part of fulfilling any workplace’s health and safety obligations. WorkSafe says that you must provide training and induction for plant, objects, substances and equipment that carry a risk, but companies experience several issues with delivering training to their employees.

Many employees don’t like the interruption to their work that training causes as they need to spend extra time catching up. The problem for smaller companies is scheduling that time, especially if the employee that needs the training is the only one in the business that can do a particular task.

Delivery affects the effectiveness of training. The average attention span is estimated at around 10-20 minutes, therefore maintaining focus becomes challenging for a half-day course. Training that’s delivered in English often isn’t completely understood and digested by people with English as a second language, and written materials are sometimes too complex for the large number of people that have literacy challenges.

When a trainer is used for training, they can have off-days and there can be personality conflicts. A room of people with mixed personalities, experience, and language and literacy levels make it a real challenge for a trainer to ensure everyone has understood. In those groups, trainees who aren’t picking up the information can find difficult to speak up because of peer pressure. It tends to be costly to have a human stand in front of a group of people.

Company owners, who are responsible for ensuring that training is fit-for-purpose, often have very little visibility of the materials used and the information taught in training sessions.

Online training has come into its own in reducing the disruption and providing more choice and transparency. Darren Cottingham of DT Driver Training, which offers an online forklift training course, explained how they address these issues. “A forklift certificate needs to be renewed every three years and typically you would send your operators on a course that would be five hours out of their day, plus travel time. An online course enables the information to be broken into shorter modules that can be taken over a number of days or weeks, on any device, when it’s convenient for both the company and the employee. To address literacy and language issues we included audio recordings in English and written translations to over 100 languages for the questions.”

Online training is increasingly common with many options available across a wide range of topics, from asbestos awareness to welding safety, so we asked Darren what to look out for when choosing online training. “Obviously, it must meet the requirements of the job, but in terms of how it’s delivered, look for training that:

  • Is available on different devices – smartphone and computer access wherever the trainee finds it most convenient
  • Has discrete modules, each of which can be accomplished in around 15 minutes or less
  • Allows trainees to repeat modules until they get it right
  • Gives access to the training materials for enough time to complete the course even if priorities change or workload changes
  • Has built-in translations and audio recordings
  • Contains a variety of different types of media – video, animation, audio, graphics and images – followed by questions or activities to assess understanding
  • Can be easily managed using an online interface that gives statistics and reports
  • You can verify is good through referrals or testimonials.”

“Online training is not a total substitute for practical training in every scenario but it is excellent at teaching theory and demonstrating concepts that would be difficult to replicate in real life, it improves learning outcomes and it’s more cost-effective,” he added.