How To Address Organisational Training Issues

Posted by Kirsten Ross

Training in the workplace can be linked to every job. Employees have to be competent in their tasks, as well as continuously learning new skills which often involves instruction.

Everyone's got to do it, but a lot of organisations don't do it very well.

So in this episode of the Compliance Conversations, we're going to discuss some of the problems around organisational training. 

The guest for this episode is Michael Terry from Momentum Safety and Ergonomics in Queensland, Australia. He is an experienced consultant, specialising in workplace ergonomics and aged care training. 

Enjoy! 

Compliance Conversations is a new series coming to your screens, where we chat with some industry experts about the pitfalls of compliance, what works well and providing you with insights into our top industry tips.

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Issues Around Training From an Auditors Perspective

With the standards changing around ISO9001 and ISO14001, the requirement for documented policies and procedures was removed. This meant that as an organisation you no longer had to document things. 

Auditors then had to try understand whether people were competent or not. The best way to determine this was by looking at the non-conformances and trying to understand why they happened and whether the company had a system of training in place.  

As Craig mentions in the video, he always struggled to "understand whether people were trained or not".

 

Are Records of Training Indicative of the Competency? 

Training records are more like a tick-and-flick to say that the person is trained. It is easy to see whether someone has been trained, but to determine their level of competency based solely on the training record is a whole other story. 

A lot of companies have something like an Excel spreadsheet which they will use to record this, but no where does it say they have assessed the person after they were trained. 

The old expression is 'trained by contamination' because these companies just say "This is how we do it."

 

Language Barriers in Training 

As Peter mentions in the video, a lot of organisations have a workforce made up of different cultures where there may be five or six languages spoken. English is not always the first language, but none of the training material is in their native language.

So for starters , it's hard enough to get people to train against a consistent standard. Then you put in a language barrier, and then they're asked to read it. 

Companies need to start looking at this and asking themselves if it is the best way for them to deliver the training. 

 

Training at Mango

Here at Mango, we are certified to ISO9001 and ISO27001, and have gone and turned a lot of our training procedures into videos, because it's a better way of doing it.

In our environment we have two screens, so the employees can actually be watching the video on how to do something while attempting it on the other. 

Their manager can observe them, sit behind them, and see that they're actually understanding.

 

Is Moving Away From 'Traditional' Training Beneficial? 

In the video, you will hear Michael mention that "there's a move away from the traditional face-to-face training".

Michael believes that there's some value in the physical type training. You don't always need it but the big move to video for everything online is missing some opportunities.

 

How to Know If You Should Include Online Learning

Mango has online learning built into it, but some organisations do not deem this to be necessary. There is a danger that people can rely to heavily on this, relating back to the idea of uncertainty around employee competence. 

As Craig mentioned in the video "training my staff and then getting them to do the job, and then assessing them over a period of time maybe every couple of weeks just to make sure that they understand what has to be done. I think you can't beat that".

You've got to ask yourself, why are you moving your training online?

For a lot of companies, it's more to do with efficiencies. The ability to quickly cycle people through a training course and get them to do whatever they want is an appealing option for many businesses. 

But they're not moving it online because online is better, it's because they can get more people more easily trained.

 

Moving Away From The Excel Spreadsheet

Often times, auditors see that the the records of training are kept through an excel spreadsheet. Keeping that up to date with renewals and reminders for training can then be difficult and laborious. 

Here are the experts thoughts on this:

Michael:

"I went through the teaching people how to construct their training matrix in the Excel spreadsheet and back in the day I think that was the best system. But nowadays, I'm saying to people, you need to move to a better learning management system, and it's got to be able to be easily kept up to date...

It's got to generate reminders, and it's got to have the ability to clearly make a determination on competency and how they got to that competency level. So yeah, I think we should have moved past spreadsheets for our training records now, to be honest."

Craig: 

"A training spreadsheet is easy audit fodder, because as soon as it's completed, it's out of date. A day later somebody else has done some training and people are continually learning and knowledge is being built up through on site training or whatever it is. So it was easy to audit because you could find holes in it all the time."

Peter:

"It's actually quite an important input into your management review. There's the section on training, what training is coming up. From that you can determine costs for your budgets for next year. You can look at capacity planning.

There's nothing worse than having all your forklift licenses coming due at the same time, which just happens to be in the busiest time of the year. So these things are all inputs that should be entered into your management  review...

Have we got training? Can we spread out the training? What are the costs? Do we need to have that many people?

Michael, You did a webinar yesterday on first aid training.  People will go off and get a whole pile of people trained in first aid. But have they actually looked to see if they needed that many people?

Without actually having that data to present to management, you can't make good decisions on how many people need that training."


 

The planning process for training can often be a knee-jerk process where businesses send a whole bunch of people off but haven't first sat down to determine whether it is actually required. 

 

Are Training And Accidents Related? 

As mentioned in the video, Peter suggests there is a correlation between accidents at work and training.

"I think training gets a big boost just after you had an accident or a customer complaint. Then suddenly one of the findings is we haven't had enough training and that pushes it. But if you had data to present to management as part of the weakness to the business, you could do that far more efficient."

 

Takeaways:

  1. Take a step back and be systematic about planning, objectives and targets
  2. Work out which training is important, which ones you need competencies for and who's going to be the assessors
  3. Do ongoing assessments to ensure people are competent

 

Continue Watching

Want more of an insight into compliance in the workplace? Check out our other episodes here

Tags: Compliance, Training, Compliance Conversations