Safety Training 2.0 — Engagement in the Digital Era

One of our clients recently shared that their leaders were finding it challenging to keep their teams engaged during regular safety meetings. Employees were finding the meetings ‘boring’, reducing the impact of critical safety information being shared. In response, the client provided frontline leaders with safety videos to play during the meetings. But even with this new presentation medium, their issue remained—employees simply weren’t engaging with the content.

A search through LinkedIn reveals much discussion about how to make training interesting, engage staff and keep concepts fresh and front of mind. One article even makes the bold suggestion to stop safety training altogether—or at least ‘traditional’ approaches. Is the cease of traditional training methods where we are headed? If so, what will take its place?

The latest research suggests that a blended learning approach, which combines both face-to-face training and digital tools, may be leading the way.

Ensuring Transfer of Learning to the Workplace

When it comes to traditional training, research has shown that, without proper embedding activities, what employees learn during a training event is often lost and sometimes as little as 10% of learned concepts are ‘transferred’ back to the workplace. Our brains are limited, seeking to conserve energy wherever possible. Information overload is a very real thing and, when experienced, our brain’s natural response is to switch off or go into autopilot.

Technology provides us with a new avenue to keep the key concepts from face-to-face training and learning front of mind. Better still, it provides immediate access—literally at our fingertips—when and where we choose. Herein lies the true strength of a blended training approach.

Blended learning is gaining traction. There are now conferences dedicated entirely to the topic and forward-thinking organisations like the University of Wollongong (UOW) are winning awards in this space. UOW’s bespoke blended induction training program for student workplace health and safety incorporated gamification to motivate and maintain engagement, simultaneously tackling traditional challenges related to inducting a significant number of students.

What Makes Blended Learning So Effective for Training Transfer?

First, every individual learns differently. The benefit of blended learning and leveraging technology is that we can offer a variety of content mediums (visual, audio, written), multiple question styles and interactive activities to engage all learner types. This also provides the bonus of keeping the content fresh and engaging—making sure to keep our brain alert and interested.

Second, a blended approach allows us to space out learning so to not overload the learner with too much information at once. For instance, an approach to inductions might be an initial face-to-face training program, followed up with targeted e-learning modules which allow individuals to refresh concepts on a regular basis. Evidence suggests that the spaced learning technique can significantly increase training transfer, with learners retaining as much as 90% of training content.

Third, the use of technology allows us to integrate techniques, such as gamification, that engage the brain for greater training transfer. Games and game-like mechanics trigger our brains to release dopamine, a chemical that is associated with pleasure and reinforces memory. Competitions, leaderboards, badges and rewards can create a sense of excitement around training and make traditionally ‘dry’ content more enjoyable.

The use of technology also means that we can take an ‘on demand’ approach—offering flexible time frames that can be personalised to each learner, affording them the ability to learn at their own pace. This also offers the ability for learners to actively and easily seek out content to revisit in times of uncertainty.

Safety Training in Real Time

Blended learning presents an exciting opportunity for the safety space. There are few other areas where training transfer is as critical. The ability to engage in safety learning every day and refresh concepts on the spot in an engaging and brain-friendly way, can only be an investment.

For our client who was struggling to engage employees during safety meetings, understanding the modern learner and providing engaging, interactive refresher training through technology could provide the answer.

In our partnerships with clients, sustaining and embedding learning plays an important role in achieving successful safety culture change. Due to increasing demand from clients for best practice embedding solutions, we introduced Sentis Dojo—a knowledge platform that provides continuous learning at the frontline level, continuous listening at the leader level and continual improvement at the organisational level.

It’s different from traditional learning management systems. Not only is it interactive and engaging, but it’s designed with the brain in mind. It utilises micro-learning, spaced repetition, confidence based learning, gamification and social learning to create an engaging experience which can be tailored to the participant, identify learning gaps and keep concepts top of mind.

For more on the brain science behind these concepts, read our article on 21st Century Learning: How to Do More With Less

By accessing learning in real time, learners progress at their own pace. Concepts that require extra attention are automatically reinforced and presented in different ways over time to ensure comprehension and understanding.

Leaders have full visibility to ensure that team members who are struggling can be provided additional assistance with their learning. Management can generate reports, uncover trends and knowledge gaps, and keep track of how different teams are performing. Not only does this allow targeted training interventions where required (rather than a blanket approach), it also allows organisations to measure ROI. This allows leaders to monitor engagement to pinpoint safety champions and those failing to engage.

But what does it look like in practice? Employees log on via a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop, at a time that best suits them, where they are presented with their learning content for the day. They can choose to jump straight in and answer their learning questions, but we find most people prefer to do their learning via a game. What’s great about this approach is that it stimulates the dopamine chemical we mentioned earlier—the one that reinforces memory.

4 Minutes of Training Every Day, Every Site

On average, the whole learning event takes just 4 minutes a day and measures employees’ confidence along the way. Over time, management start to learn if employees are just guessing the answers, or if they genuinely comprehend the concepts.

Sentis Dojo allows us a new avenue to amplify our already highly successful training and embedding to help our clients achieve even better results long-term. Its digital nature also allows us to affordably scale training for our clients with geographically disperse workforces. Team members can keep safety concepts front of mind without impacting productivity.

With people checking their smartphones as often as 85 times a day, it only makes sense to adapt and adopt a blended approach tailored to today’s modern learner. It also ensures that when you invest in training your people it can be realised over the longer term, keeping your people switched on and safer in the field.

To learn more about how Sentis Dojo can engage your workforce to encourage a positive safety culture, contact us today.