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Employee Training: 4 Ways to Increase Learning Retention

Brent Daviau /
warehouse workers consulting

It doesn’t matter if your employees spend their days working behind computers or operating forklifts, the way environmental health and safety (EHS) information is communicated to them plays a huge role in how they understand and apply it. Here are some strategies to keep in mind if you want to reach employees of every learning style, experience level, and skillset.

1. Know your employees.

Ask yourself some questions about WHO you are trying to reach.

  • What is the average reading level of your employees?
  • What is their primary language?
  • Where do you need them to learn this information?

A self-guided computer-based training with 20 slides to read and follow will pose a challenge to anyone who isn’t a strong reader or isn’t comfortable working on a computer. Face-to-face training meetings or audio recordings are a better way to increase engagement for these workers.

Deliver information in a way that’s relevant to them.

2. Use ‘blended learning’ to reach more people, more often.

Make the most important information available in different ways.

Use a computer-based training for general knowledge about lockout tagout safety procedures, for example, and then follow up with an on-site instructor to physically show the lockout tagout procedures firsthand.

This strategy gives employees both foundational concepts and hands-on practice and has the added bonus of reinforcing the skills by adding repetition.

3. Use ‘learning by choice’ approaches to reach employees at every knowledge level. 

Training that builds on what your employees already know (or don’t know) helps them engage with the content. Beyond the required annual training courses, a 20-year company veteran probably doesn’t need to hear the same thing year after year. Some training scenarios allow users to make educated guesses about the correct answer and then customizes the information that follows. A format like this can create a dynamic learning environment that tailors itself for both seasoned and entry-level employees.

4. Make it a game, but only if the game speaks to skills.  

Content stays with people longer when learning is a game. But this popular tactic only works if the ‘game’ reflects the interest and skills of your team. (Remember point 1 above about knowing your employees?)

A leaderboard or ranking system might incentivize a sales group. But a research or compliance team might be more engaged by challenges requiring thorough attention to detail, like a scavenger hunt.

The key theme to all of these strategies is understanding how YOUR employees need information delivered to them so they can hear it and remember it.

For any EHS training program to be successful, make sure you know who your employees are and what THEY need to succeed.

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