All construction employees must undergo some level of new hire training, preparing themselves for a new role in a new environment. Two of the biggest priorities of workplace training in the construction industry are safety and security, but you will fail to accomplish these priorities if your training doesn’t “stick.”
What steps can you take to make your training stickier and more memorable?
The Value of Training
First, understand how valuable training is. It’s tempting to see training as an obstacle to productivity; the more time you spend training new hires, the longer you’re going to be delayed on your construction project. But remember that training is an investment.
Investing just 1 percent of a project’s budget into employee training has the potential to increase productivity on the job-site by 11 percent. In this type of environment, rework can decrease by 23 percent or more – and retention rates are much higher, with lower absenteeism. On top of that, more thorough construction employee training can lead to reduced risks of accidents – keeping your job-site and all its workers safer (and saving you time and money in the process).
Now, what strategies can you use to make your training stick?
Take Training Seriously
If you want your employees to remember their training and truly take it seriously, you have to take it seriously as well. That means establishing a culture that prioritizes workplace safety – and dedicating time to thorough training sessions. If you treat training as an afterthought, or if you don’t have clear training structures in place, your workers may be less likely to pay attention and remember what you teach them.
Meet Employees on Their Terms
Do whatever you can to meet employees on their terms. In other words, you need to make training more appealing and more engaging for the people actually undergoing it.
These are just some of the ways that you can do it:
- Adapt to individual learning styles. Understand that different people learn in different ways. For example, some people respond very well to verbal instructions, while other people prefer to practice in a hands-on way. You may have a training program already in place, but be willing to adapt to people with different learning styles and needs.
- Incorporate visual elements. Most people benefit from learning visually. Physical demonstrations, illustrations, and posted signs can all facilitate higher memory retention for your training program.
- Use mnemonic devices. Mnemonic devices are designed to make it easier to learn and remember things. Clever acronyms, simple rhymes, and memorable adages can all make it easier for your lessons to stick.
- Make it fun. Finally, try to make the training process fun and stimulating. Crack some jokes. Show off your personality. Don’t allow your training program to become stale and boring.
Equip Your Trainers for Success
Supervisors, or other leaders responsible for training on the job-site, should be in a position to oversee effective training for all your construction workers.
- Be focused and serious. While your training can still be fun and interesting, the supervisor or trainer should be focused and serious on topics related to safety. If a supervisor doesn’t take safety training seriously, their workers won’t either.
- Be positive and patient. Training is going to be much more effective if the supervisor is positive and patient. Try to keep a good attitude and work with people who don’t take to your training right away.
- Be thorough. Document your training program and follow it to the letter. Don’t skip sections or deviate far from the formula.
- Be transparent. Training best functions as a collaborative dialogue. Be as transparent as possible and answer employee questions when they arise.
You can also make your training stickier by following up.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. Repetition is one of the most important elements of forming long-term memories. Accordingly, you should make an effort to repeat your most important points. You can even get your employees to repeat these points on your behalf.
- Consider implementing a quiz or test. Even in school, most people hate the idea of quizzes and tests. But these are valuable ways to gauge whether your construction employees are truly absorbing what you’ve taught them; if someone falls behind, you can redouble your efforts with them.
- Retrain and revisit. Training doesn’t end with a single session. Consider implementing retraining to keep all your employees informed and up to date on all your safety standards. Even your oldest, most loyal employees may benefit from occasional retraining.
With the help of these strategies, your training and education program can become much stickier, enabling your construction employees to remember what you’ve taught them much more reliably and for a longer period of time. Keep refining your training approach to make it even more effective.