What Does the Learner Need for Effective EHS Training?
Training plays a significant role in any environmental, health, and safety position. Before building EHS training content, it is important to establish what problems you are trying to solve, and what is causing the problem. Are your employees misunderstanding a process? Do they have all the information they need, but simply lack the necessary motivation? Are you replacing an existing standard operating procedure with a more efficient process?
From regulatory compliance standards, to important safety practices, to site-specific processes, there is no shortage of information to learn to ensure your EHS operations are running smoothly. But, trainings that are only focused on sharing information are often over-saturated with text, boring, and even ineffective—simply reading text is not enough to retain skills and maintain learned behaviors in the long run. To avoid wasting time and resources, EHS trainings should aim to go beyond just providing information to employees. For EHS training to be effective, the learner needs information of course, but this must be combined with trainings that also provide motivation, as well as opportunities for memorization and mastery.
Information is the broadest component of learning and is the basis of most EHS trainings. It consists of sharing information with the learner with no concrete future actions, such as answering quiz questions or performing an immediate task. Often, informational portions of trainings are introductory, aiming to set the tone of what content is to come. Examples of informational learning in EHS training include signing a document to agree that you understand HIPAA rules, learning about different departments to get a sense of operations, and getting to know the names and faces of coworkers. Informational learning is very flexible and can be delivered in a variety of formats. Videos, PowerPoint presentations, infographics, and animations are just a few ways to incorporate information into EHS trainings. While information is critical to any training, providing only information will leave your trainings boring and uninspiring.
Motivation is less about learning a new tool or strategy and more about establishing a learner’s drive to take what is being learned and turn it into long-term behavioral change. To do so, it is important to appeal to the learner’s emotions. Training materials that are scenario-based speak to the learner’s real-life experiences and guide them to new behaviors that will help them in a practical way. If a change in behavior is desired, motivational training content could be used to encourage and inspire EHS employees to perform tasks differently. For example, trainings could motivate employees to employ sustainable methods of waste disposal by emphasizing the impacts of each employee's actions on the company’s sustainability goals or by outlining the benefits of reducing landfill waste. Effective formats tap into the learners' emotions and include animations that depict an old process negatively in contrast to a new solution that is portrayed in a positive light or interactive simulations of specific tasks. Establishing the 'why' through motivation will help employees connect information they learn to their real-life experiences to retain more from trainings that may otherwise be unengaging.
For EHS employees to be effective, it is important for them to retain a lot of information. Repetition and practice play a significant role in memorization. Providing a learner with a variety of activities that require them to answer questions or complete activities, such as a ‘drag and drop’ game to sort information into categories, are some productive ways to help employees remember complex processes. For example, they could be asked to fill out a multiple-choice quiz, followed by a second, different drag and drop on the same subject matter. To measure memorization levels, trainings can incorporate a pre-test and post-test on the subject matter.
In order to perform responsibilities accurately, safely, and efficiently, EHS employees need to be able to take the information they have learned and turn it into consistent action. Traditional EHS training that is strictly informational rarely gives employees a chance to practice their new skills in an environment that reflects real-life circumstances. Without these opportunities, employees must learn exclusively on the job, which can increase the risk of spills, mistakes, or even injuries. Simulations are a great way to test employees’ skills in a lower-stakes training environment. In a simulation, employees can learn how to perform tasks to achieve a level of mastery in their job duties prior to carrying them out on site.
How Do You Determine Which Training Elements Should be Incorporated?
No matter what the topic of an EHS training is, your employees will benefit from incorporating information, motivation, memorization, and mastery elements into your training content. If your organization is struggling to manage training requirements and deliver engaging training content to your EHS department, Triumvirate Environmental’s EHS Learning Lab can help! Our unique program will manage every component of your training program, from assessing your training needs, to developing cutting-edge eLearning content tailored to your specific operations, to tracking important regulatory data. We can help you identify and resolve EHS training pain points and frustrations, no matter how big or small. To learn more about EHS Learning Lab, click below or call us at 617-715-9055 to discuss your training needs.