And how you can help employers fix it
Workplace safety is critical, especially in high-risk or hazardous work environments. But despite many companies’ best efforts, safety training often just doesn’t work.
In fact, 66% of companies report that employees are not following their safety program. That means two-thirds of your clients and prospects may have unsafe working conditions that could cause injuries, lawsuits and even fatalities.
As an agent, this is a huge opportunity for you to add value beyond insurance. Assisting clients with an effective safety program can help them protect employees, save lives, and save money (including reducing workers’ comp premiums!).
So why isn’t training working? Too many organizations approach training in ways that simply won’t be effective. Here are five common reasons that safety training fails, and what to do to change it.
Humans need regular reinforcement to learn something—and then also remember it later! You may have heard of the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, and the implications are huge. If new information isn’t reinforced or applied, workers forget up to 75% of it within a week.
That’s why consistent training and practical application is the key to true learning and retention of that knowledge. Training should never be “one and done,” but rather consistently reinforced and used in practice.
You might remember how hard it was to pay attention to long lectures back in school. Now consider this: it’s even harder for adults. In fact, the most effective learning for adults is in bite-sized bursts of only 3-7 minutes (often called microlearning).
Research shows that microlearning helps workers focus and improves knowledge retention by up to 80%. Luckily, microlearning pairs perfectly with consistency, as short bite-sized lessons delivered regularly are much more effective than one day-long training session.
Workers don’t want long training sessions, but they still need enough total training to help them learn and apply safety lessons effectively.
One study found that companies that provide at least 20 annual hours of safety training are 68% more likely to have employees follow safety protocols. That may seem like a lot, but it averages to just 23 minutes of training per week. Between weekly safety meetings and a few micro lessons, that’s fairly easy to accomplish.
Just like long training sessions cause attention spans to fade, so does training that doesn’t engage employees. Listening to a supervisor or trainer talk at them, perhaps while showing a slide presentation, generally doesn’t engage the average worker.
Instead, it’s important to meet employees where they are: provide short videos, distribute training via cell phone, and make it a two-way experience. Provide opportunities for the employee to engage, answer quiz questions or otherwise participate to keep their attention.
At the end of the day, all of the training in the world isn’t going to positively impact workplace safety if the organization isn’t “walking the walk.”
When workers are encouraged to report safety hazards, praised for taking the right safety steps, and thanked for reporting incidents or near misses, a culture of safety develops that reinforces safety training with action.
Wherever your clients are on the workplace safety journey, you can provide incredible value to them by supporting their safety programs. Consider your clients who know safety is important, but don’t have the resources to create their own training. Or think of the ones with an existing program that just isn’t working despite all the effort. You can offer the easy button!
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