The difference between training and competence

Using Behavior-Based Safety to Stop Complacency
August 5, 2021
Resilient companies need the trust of their employees more than ever
Resilient companies need the trust of their employees more than ever
September 23, 2021
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Maxime Ouellet, ing.

The difference between training and competence

A person that’s been trained isn’t necessarily competent. They could be, but it isn’t necessarily true. Training shouldn’t be something to get over with so you can get back to work. How often have you been trained at work only to completely forget everything you learned once you tried to use it?

Death by PowerPoint

Have you had the experience of ‘death by PowerPoint’? Or possibly ‘wishing you were dead because of PowerPoint’? Once a person has hit a point of too much information, or they hit a spot that they didn’t understand, they are no longer engaged and listening. They can easily be drawn to cat videos on YouTube. (If there is a hands-on approach to the training, much more of it can be absorbed and retained.)

From a safety manager’s point of view, it can be dangerous to give the entirety of the safety training to someone when they first start a job at a new company. This can sometimes be a week to 10 days of training leading to safety fatigue where employees become negative towards it.

At the end of that training, the new recruits might be able to pass an exam and get a certificate, but it has no bearing on whether they are now competent at their job. Companies end up wondering why people are having accidents even though they are trained? They are fully trained only according to the time they put in the classroom.

This is the current approach to training workers on the job. They get the bulk of their training all at once at the beginning, and then again at regular intervals, usually each year or every 3 years.

It’s a huge expense where the workers aren’t productive, but still not getting all the benefits expected.

A New Approach to Training

A new approach that has been more successful with the advent of software programs is micro-learning. This is learning via bite-size pieces. Instead of learning everything in one long stream of PowerPoints, you can take on little bits of training that is much easier to absorb and incorporate into your work day.

Micro-learning has been around for a long time but has grown in popularity over the last few years with the pervasiveness of smart phones and phone apps. You don’t have to sit in a classroom to be taught everything. You can do it whenever and wherever you are.

A growing number of the workforce is very comfortable doing almost everything with their smartphone.

 

Benefits of micro-training

  • Can usually be done on a smart phone
  • Can include quizzes, videos, audio, and even games
  • Can be done just before a job that requires specific knowledge or items to be known
  • Easier to retain short bits of information or information you need just before use
  • The learning can be very specific to a job
  • More affordable than classroom training
  • Employees are in the field being productive much sooner
  • Can get almost immediate feedback of how effective the micro-training is
  • You can give training as often as needed so people can get a better grasp of subject

 

We are looking into measuring the return on investment using software in micro-learning. You’ll have less accidents, lower training costs, sooner productivity from workers, ability to update training on a regular basis without affecting production much, training available whenever needed,

People aren’t required to know everything about every situation when they first start a job. They need to be competent to do what they’re about to do. With software, a database can easily show what training each worker has done and when they got the training. That way, if their training isn’t up to date for a certain activity, they can simply take the training prior to the job. It could be micro-training on their mobile device, or classroom-type training.

For the more complex or general topics, you can still have use traditional, formal training practices. For short, specific or infrequent work duties, you can use micro-training. This could be all the high-risk activities like lockout tagout, confined space, working at heights, etc. The kind of things that are usually on the top ten list of OSHA’s most common violations (see How EHS Software Can Increase Your Chances of OSHA Compliance).

 

Move Towards Competence

If you just want to follow guidelines and show your people are trained, keep doing it the same way. If you want to improve your safety records by making sure your people are competent at what they do, look at micro-learning. Not only will your people be more competent, but you’ll have less injuries and an improved bottom line.

 

Par Maxime Ouellet, Chef de l’Innovation et du Produit.