By: Ryan Clayton

It’s been a long winter and your company is welcoming back laid off employees and new hires to your organization. At this point we all know the importance of training and maintaining that level of education for safety and work practices. With today’s fast-paced, busy environment, many have turned to training videos in hopes to fulfill their training requirements for the year and bring their organization up to speed on the industry. Once you hit play everyone is engaged and we hope the learning process is taking place. Although your video may have compelling and message-focused content, you have to assume that the learning stops once you or the facilitator leaves the room.

Safety videos have pros and cons. It is my opinion that face–to-face, nontraditional training enables the learning process to blossom.

Safety videos are far more efficient and convenient than traditional training methods. Videos allow the employer to control time management since he or she knows exactly how long the video will last. The videos also allow quick refreshers to the student and allow the audience to rewind if anything is misunderstood. As long as the technology and video equipment is available, safety training can occur for any employee whenever needed.

Although safety videos have many pros, they also have many cons. Safety videos do not allow the audience to think critically and problem solve. Although some videos have activities within the training, participation is likely minimal and the class will just be going through the motions. Also without a facilitator, questions can go unanswered. An unanswered question can lead to a hazardous result in the field.

In my opinion, relying on one type of training will actually hinder the learning experience for adults. A hands-on approach in the training with small video segments or activities is arguably the best way to train adults. In hands-on situations, the adults are face-to-face with a problem and forced to think critically on how to accomplish the goal. Many adults, including myself, learn best when they are able to see the problem. However, our industry is filled with a diverse workforce and we must ensure we are reaching the minds of all of our attendees.

In most of the safety trainings that I conduct, I attempt to utilize a problem-solving activity, which increases retention. Allowing the audience to work through a problem in small groups does two things: (1) it promotes critical thinking, pushing the group to work through a problem like they would in the field and (2) it promotes competition that engages the audience, because everyone wants to be the winner. Unless the audience is authentically engaged in what’s being presented, then you risk the chance of losing the learning process.

Finally, in a traditional training session a trainer has the ability to read facial expressions, gestures and other body language. If the majority of the class seems to not be catching on the material, a good trainer will pick up on the signs and attempt to rephrase or explain differently. The ability to communicate with a subject matter expert is very important when it comes to authentic engagement.

Every organization approaches safety training methods differently. Skills learned in training can save time, money and most importantly, people’s lives. Whether you choose to train in person, by video or both, take the extra step to make every member of your workforce has a clear, solid understanding before checking it off for the year.