5. Meaningful Safety and Health Training

Formal Job Training is Crucial to Worker Safety

Feb. 22, 2018
With 31 percent of America's workforce lacking proper on-the-job training, what does this mean for safety?

As job training is often looked at as an important way to both attract and retain employees, it turns out that only 31 percent of the U.S. workforce receives formal job training.

For safety professionals, this number should be concerning because a properly-trained worker can perform his or her job more efficiently, spot hazards and not take shortcuts, leading to fewer workplace injuries.

This was the conclusion from a study released by Axonify, "State of Workplace Training," that showed that this number was slightly up from last 2016 where it was 30 percent.

 Furthermore, for those that do have access to formal training, 43 percent report that it’s ineffective. 

 “As the training industry is producing new and innovative technology to empower employees, it is alarming to see that companies aren’t embracing new approaches to learning as part of their overall strategy,” said Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify.

Leaman points out that not providing this training is a mistake since the survey showed that  (92 percent) say that the right kind of formal workplace training impacts their job engagement positively.

 “If employees don’t have the correct training to perform their jobs properly, they will disengage. This, in turn, will result in work quality, productivity and customer satisfaction issues,” added Leaman. “One-size-fits-all training programs are no longer enough. Instead, a more individualized and continuous approach to learning is necessary to help workers develop their individual strengths which can positively impact their job success and the company’s bottom line.”

‘Fun Factor’ Essential for Participation

This year’s study validates the need to shift away from lengthy, ‘one and done’ training events, finding that more employees place an emphasis on training that is engaging and fun (90 percent versus 85 percent in the previous study).

Also, 80 percent of workers report it’s important to receive regular, frequent training so they don’t forget the information, up from 73 percent in the previous year’s study.

“Training should not be a dull, isolated event, as employees loathe sitting in long, boring sessions and immediately tune out,” added Leaman. “Recent advancements in brain science demonstrate that by providing employees with continuous, enjoyable opportunities to learn, information retention improves, positioning the business for greater success. And, when learning incorporates gamified elements, participation soars.”

Online Learning Produces Engaged Employees

While 57 percent of total respondents report that training is very effective in helping them do their job well, that number differs based on the respondent’s industry, e.g., Manufacturing/Logistics (68 percent effective), Call Center (63 percent effective) and Retail (35 percent effective).

The study also examined the types of training organizations provide. Nearly half of employees (47 percent) receive training via online or a mix of classroom and online training and 15 percent of employees receive only classroom training. 

Additional findings include:

  • Online training is especially common among adults working in professional sales (41 percent vs. 22 percent retail sales associates and 8 percent manufacturing employees).
  • Those most likely to have received strictly classroom training include manufacturing workers (29 percent), call center employees (38 percent), and financial advisors (29 percent).
  • Those working in professional sales are among the most likely to say training makes them feel extremely engaged (55 percent) – compared to those working in retail (31 percent) and manufacturing (33 percent).

Despite Generational Differences, Professionals Want Training Anytime, Anywhere

While the study also revealed several generational disparities, the commonalities outweigh the differences: People want training anytime, anywhere; they want it to be short; and they want to be rewarded for doing it. For example:

More than two-thirds (67 percent) of employees think it’s important to receive anytime, anywhere training, up from 64 percent in 2016, but this varies by generation.
Within employee age groups, Millennials (75 percent) and Gen Xers (72 percent) place a high importance on anytime/anywhere training, while it is less important to Baby Boomers (56 percent).
Millennials place higher importance on short training sessions (74 percent), versus Generation X (69 percent) and Baby Boomers (58 percent).
Within age groups, Millennials place far more importance on training that offers rewards (69 percent) than Baby Boomers (46 percent), with Gen Xers being in the middle (64 percent).

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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