If you work in a human resources (HR) department that’s looking to increase its efficiency and flexibility, online tools can be very appealing. Today, there seems to be a digital solution for everything from time tracking to compliance, but what about safety training? Can something so important be accomplished effectively outside of a classroom?
For educators, and the people who depend on them, 2020 was a major test of what online education and training could accomplish. Replacing in-person instruction and training sessions with online learning was not a simple or easy process, but the past year helped prove that with the right approach, it can be done.
According to Christine Greenhow, an associate professor of educational technology at Michigan State University, online learning can match, or even beat, the effectiveness of in-person education—provided it’s delivered in the right way. The key to this, according to Greenhow, is to combine solo work with collaborative components. Elements that have students work at their own pace can set them up to think critically about what they’re learning. At the same time, online training benefits from moments when students go online alongside others to collaborate. (1)
Safety training is no exception to these larger trends. There are many potential benefits to moving to an online safety training platform, but it needs to be done in the right way. Read on to learn nine reasons why, when implemented correctly, online safety training could prove beneficial to your HR department.
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1. It’s consistent
Workplaces were already becoming increasingly complicated, decentralized places before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the future of office life looks increasingly like a blended work environment, one where remote and in-office workers will have more opportunity to exist side-by-side and collaborate.
If you’re an employee in an HR department tasked with overseeing safety training, how do you help ensure that your coworkers receive consistent training across different offices, or even from home? With an online system, you can ensure that all the people who complete a training course have worked through the same material.
These online systems can even eliminate issues from in-person training, such as different trainers varying the course delivery, resulting in different experiences for employees in different offices.
2. It’s adaptable
While it might seem like a contradiction, online safety training is defined by its flexibility as much as its consistency. Keep this in mind as you look for different ways to deliver the recommended safety training course for different jobs in your company. Along with adapting to the needs of different roles, online safety training can also help you meet the needs of a diverse workforce.
As argued in a 2016 article in the journal Professional Safety, the workplaces of the future are getting larger, more spread out, and more diverse. If you work on the HR staff at a company like this, you’ll need to engage with a wide range of employees, especially younger ones. Using online training, you can actually provide something that’s more interactive than a typical classroom experience, and you can offer different ways to engage with the material at a pace that suits the employee. (2)
All told, this can make for more buy-in from employees when it comes to learning and implementing critical safety information. (2)
3. Courses are easy to update
Do you work in an industry that’s constantly changing compliance requirements, with a real need for up-to-the-minute safety training for your employees? If so, your HR department might find online safety training to be a big help in their efforts to remain compliant.
As standards change, and the information that needs to be covered changes with them, an online solution is much easier to update. You can add individual lessons to an already developed module, or you can add a whole new module if necessary; you’re in full control.
4. It’s much more convenient
You can offer your employees the opportunity to take their course whenever is convenient for them, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you’ve got a particularly busy production period coming up, you don’t have to pull people off-site in order to stay compliant with important safety regulations. You also don’t have to worry about the logistical nightmare that is finding mutual availability when everyone can come in for a class.
5. It saves money
This one is simple. Think about all the costs associated with travel, and productivity loss that you don’t have to worry about with an online training solution. There are other administrative costs you can save on too, such as the time it takes your administrative staff to organize in person classes, catering and travel.
6. Confidentiality helps employees feel comfortable
Some employees may have questions or concerns that they don’t feel comfortable sharing in front of their coworkers. Often times, those questions are the most important ones to get answered, because they reflect a real gap in someone’s knowledge and something they’re genuinely interested in learning the answer to. The ability for employees to ask any questions they have privately, and judgement free means you’re more likely to have the safest possible workforce.
7. More efficient
An online safety training platform can deliver information more efficiently for an obvious reason: you don’t need as many instructors as you would for an in-person training. Plus, if you complement online training with in-person modules, those in-person sessions can be more focused and efficient, since the trainer knows what people have already learned in their online course.
You may wonder if that efficiency comes at the cost of efficacy. The key is to use technology to find innovative solutions to whatever problems crop up. For example, to address the need for hands-on training, one pilot study in 2015 built a virtual environment for employees to engage with. The result was that those who participated in training in a virtual environment, which did not carry any of the risk of working directly with hazardous materials, had retained as much information as those who trained in-person. (3)
8. Simple tracking and reporting
Anyone who’s been charged with leading a safety training session knows that one of the biggest hassles is something that seems simple: keeping track of, and reporting, attendance and completion of a course. Maintaining an accurate record of who has shown up to the required sessions and distributing the completion certificates can take up a good chunk of time.
When using a learning management system (LMS), online training platforms are able to automate a large chunk of what would otherwise require many hours of time and attention from staff. Essentially, online courses save time and headaches.
9. Improved employee involvement
This is the real goal that safety training should have: getting employees involved and engaged. With online safety training, you can include multiple ways for participants to interact with, and learn from, a given lesson or module. You’ll also be empowering employees to work at their own pace, which can help make sure they take enough time to internalize the information. That kind of buy-in and immersive learning could translate to better results in terms of safety and compliance.
These nine reasons are just some of the ways in which online safety training can help an HR department save both time and money. Better training can help address a range of common employee problems, and it can also help you get better results in terms of compliance and employee engagement.
If the past year has taught those working in HR anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Making a choice that allows you to be both flexible and consistent, all while saving you time and money, is a good first step.