Switching the safety lightbulb on in your workforce - a priority today

Training can deliver information, but learning delivers real understanding.

Our people are the key to what we do and our priority has to be making sure that they don’t gamble with their own and their work families safety. But how do we do this?

It has been the burning question for all of us for a long time. Every business has a clay layer; a group of individuals who quash near hits or push the job forward no matter what the risks.

Our boots on the ground know that no matter what they report if it will adversely affect figures it simply gets buried. I hate to say it but it is probably revelant within your organisation, and I am sorry if that makes you feel uncomfortable, but it’s the truth. As Directors and managers responsible for putting people to work on the network, we must understand we have a problem. How do we break through that clay layer; switch on that lightbulb, so to speak? Does Training Work? In short, no. We have all sat in a session where the trainer at the front of the room has effectively strangled any interest within the first ten minutes. Your colleagues around you are playing with phones or doodling pretty little designs onto the paper in front of them, whilst your mind wanders over to what’s for lunch. As the poor soul at the front delivers the hammer blow with his 35th slide and begins to read verbatim from it, you decide that death by poking out your eyes with that semi-blunt pencil is actually a better prospect than enduring another minute of this. Back in 1997 when Thomas Rudkin and Dennis Austin of Forethought, Inc. developed a programme called Presenter (latterly changed to PowerPoint), a game changer, or so they thought. 20 years later, little did they know that over time they would also have helped to give birth to the phrase ‘Death by PowerPoint’. So, as we enter an era where clients are demanding not just a tick in the box of a training plan but, instead, a shift in culture among our workforces, how do we improve from within and empower our workforces to drive it Films, used either a standalone resource or as part of a live drama presentation, can really help operatives understand how issues relate to their own job roles. Safety driven by you It may sound completely obvious and as though I am trying to teach you to suck eggs, but the best way to engage a workforce is to empower them to feel that they are the driver for change. Remember that great idea you had – the one you knew would make a real difference. But there was a problem. You knew that if you took it to your line manager or director he would shut it down. Why? Because it was such a good idea... but he had not thought of it first and he didn’t want you to be seen to be out performing him. So how do we meet the challenge? We plant a seed with our boss, then water and cultivate it until he actually thinks that brilliant sunflower of an idea came out of his brain and not one of his underlings. Hey presto – job done, our idea becomes reality. Well the same thing applies to our workforce; tell them what to do and they will push against it. Empower them to feel as if they don’t just play a part in your idea, but also, that they were (at least in part) responsible for its development. Then watch how they not only follow it but also actively police it amongst their colleagues. Targeting influencers Many of you, like me, will have young children, and the one time of year that fills me with dread is Christmas. In the run up, the number of TV adverts for the latest Paw Patrol or Barbie toy reach epidemic proportions, as they desperately fight for your little one’s attention. Not late in the evening when mum and dad are settling down for a much needed hour of quiet time, but instead when our little angels are watching the latest episode of Blaze and the Monster Machines. They are the influencers. It is their wishes that determine the gifts we buy for the big day. In the same way, within our work environment, if we are to successfully facilitate change, then it needs to be the influencers who drive it. With a parent, it is the children. Within a workplace, it is peers; work colleagues and friends. These are the people who you need to champion the behavioural change you seek, to embody it and live it – to lead by example so that the others follow. The toys you give your influencers (in effect, added responsibility and recognition) will help you improve your culture. Making them want the toy At the top of this article we discussed how ‘death by PowerPoint’ will be the grim reaper for any message you want to deliver to a workforce. It will switch them off and make them feel they are being talked AT, and not engaged WITH. So how do we, as employers ensure that the message drip feeds down through the layers of the business to engage with our boots on the ground, and is cultivated by everyone. One method (and I emphasise not the only one) is immersive learning. Training delivers information, but learning delivers understanding, which is where real change comes from. Giving your employees a learning experience which they identify with, and where they can empathise with the protagonists, is proven to deliver. If you want to just tick a box, then there are far cheaper and easier ways of conveying a message, but if you want to make a difference then thinking outside the box may well be the road to take. Training is the box, while learning builds the ability to think outside of it. Employing a blended approach is something which could well yield massive cultural, social and economic benefits to all of our businesses. Look at it this way... Training gives staff the ‘WHAT’ they need to do to carry out a task correctly. Learning gives them the ‘WHY’ they need to do it, and also the motivation to put it into practice.

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