Research shows that if no employee reinforcement occurs after a safety training session then:
- Immediately After – More than 50% of what is learned will not be transferred to the job.
- Within 6 months – Up to 75% of the information will be lost
- After 1 year – The retention rate is as little as 10% to 15%
An article in Safety Daily Advisor titled What Is the Role of Reinforcement in Effective Training quotes Mike Ryan, senior vice president of Marketing and Strategy for Madison Performance Group (www.MadisonPG.com), “Training is a key business imperative, but the long-term results are falling short because there is little reinforcement in real-world business scenarios. Before they absorb a new procedure or a new process, they have got to understand why it’s important to them.”
We may conclude from this that safety training is more of a process than it is an event. After all, successful safety training focuses on changing employee behavior permanently. And behavioral change is a process-based strategy where compliance becomes natural rather than forced. Reinforcement is a key component to naturalizing safety training and improving employee retention.
6 Steps to Safety Training Reinforcement
- Create training handouts – Checklists, worksheets, data tracking, and memory aids that can be taken back to workstations are ideal. The more interactive the handout, the higher the retention.
- Supervisor reinforcement – supervisors must pay special attention to recent training and provide constructive feedback.
- Short, periodic reviews – gather employees periodically and review the safety training concepts. Conduct a Q & A to receive and act on worker feedback.
- Awareness campaigns – continue to promote the latest safety training through company communication channels. Make sure safety is prominent in your in-house newsletter and recognize those who have excelled in implementing the training to their job.
- Review near misses immediately – near misses are warning signs that the training hasn’t been reinforced into employee behavior. Use these pivotal moments to strongly reinforce the safety training.
- Walk the Walk – leaders must lead. While you’re observing employees, they are observing you.
As stated earlier, safety training is more of a process than it is an event. Supervisors and safety leaders must assist employees in incorporating injury prevention strategies into their job. Constructive feedback, reward and recognition programs, and a behavioral-based approach will help reinforce safety protocols.