EHS managers are all too familiar with the eye rolls, sighs, and outright complaining that often follow an announcement that more safety training is required. If workers are checked out before training even begins, it’s unlikely that they’ll pay attention once training day arrives.
The four strategies below all attempt to improve the quality of safety training by getting workers to buy into the training (or at least be less dismissive of it). If you’re struggling to engage employees in safety, consider these techniques when implementing your next safety initiative.
What’s in it for them?
The biggest way to secure employee buy-in for safety training is to show them the training’s worth. Most workers want to know “What’s in it for me?” To answer that question you need to appeal with what matters most to your employees.
Natural motivators typically include safety skills and habits that can be shared with loved ones to keep them safe. Most people believe they’re ‘safe enough’ but would go to great lengths to reduce the risk of injury for their family. Try to demonstrate how upcoming safety training can apply to their family at home by focusing on the off-the-job benefits.
Of course, this is easier to do for certain types of training. Human error reduction training, for example, often provides transferable skills that are useful at home as well as in industrial settings because it targets the person, not the position.
Explain the training
Mandatory training can make an employee feel like they’re being forced into doing something they don’t want to do, leading them to resist the training’s important safety message. If you explain to the employees the benefits of the training and why it’s being implemented, they may be more perceptive and motivated to participate.
Additionally, participants are more interested if they can see why the training is required—even if the reason is “because the government says so”—or if the skills they learn in the course can be applied immediately. Some courses will provide employees with a certification which appeals to their overall professional profile and aids in the employee’s professional advancement.
Lead by example
One of the most effective ways to get employees to buy into safety training is to lead the charge. Your facility may be full of safety posters that say “Safety is #1”—but it’s important for management teams to visibly behave like safety is a priority.
There’s no better way to do that then by sitting in the first row of safety training. It will show employees that management believes the safety training is valuable, and that no one is too busy or important to take the time to do things safely.
Have it delivered by an outside trainer
The Internet is full of advice on how to be a better safety trainer. Some of the advice can be useful—like Tim Page-Bottorff’s tips on how to improve employee engagement by injecting humor in safety training. (You can learn more from Tim’s free online session on the subject here.)
However, many internal trainers don’t have the time or ability to make use of safety training tips found online. Often, businesses are better served by bringing in outside professionals to deliver training. Depending on the skills of internal trainers and who gets hired to deliver training, the benefits of bringing in a safety consultant can include:
- showing company commitment by investing in bringing in experienced trainers
- alleviating the burden on your own trainers
- ensuring the trainer is dynamic and motivational
- injecting more energy and professionalism into training
- disrupting employee complacency with a new speaker
- avoiding internal political baggage with an external trainer
There’s one final advantage—you may have the option to hire a trainer that is intimately familiar with a training program. For example, SafeStart has a roster of qualified consultants who know the program inside and out—and who are proven to get employee buy-in for training beginning on day one. Be sure to ask safety training vendors if they can recommend trainers.