We live and work in a world where hamburgers, film developing and dry cleaning can be turned around quickly... a world where the Internet is swiftly becoming a major source of communications for many people. Yet in this fast paced environment, many employers are still happy with their 'old fashioned' VCR and training tapes. But some companies are searching for more interesting and productive new ways of training their employees.
Using a classroom and VCR is time consuming and costly. You stop production and gather a team of your employees together in a room, pop in the videotape... and everyone promptly falls asleep. Employers don't want their workers to get hurt on the job, but they don't want to keep spending time and money ineffectively either.
One solution to the training 'blues' is to use Interactive CD-ROMs. This training is not brand new, but until recently many companies encountered significant roadblocks trying to implement it. They didn't have the right kind of computer... the video quality in the courses was poor, (even awful)... there weren't enough courses to choose from... employees were resistant... and the courses were too expensive.
Well, all of that is changing. Now virtually all computers come equipped with a CD-ROM drive. CD-ROM video quality is excellent and there are a good number of high quality Interactive Courses available. On top of all that, companies are finding that computer-based training can be very cost efficient, giving most employees access to this equipment. It is estimated that it takes a worker 30 to 45 minutes to complete an average Interactive CD-ROM Safety Training Courses versus 60 or more minutes to attend a class on the same topic. Assuming a worker 'costs' a company about £45 an hour in salary and benefits, then he or she is paid about £27 during the CD-ROM Course training, and more than £45 while training in the classroom. So you can actually save over £18 per employee with Interactive training.
Interactive training can save your company money in other ways as well. You can avoid the cost of shutting down a production line or sending in replacements on overtime while workers are in a classroom, because employees are trained according to their schedules, not a trainer's. A computer-based training program will also save time normally spent by a safety trainer preparing and presenting lessons.
Workers are attracted to Interactive training, as well. What they like is the flexibility, ease of use and involvement Interactive training provides. They like the idea of sitting down at a workstation or in a central training center to get the training they need..., and at their own pace.
One British safety training coordinator said, 'There are often people who are uncomfortable in the classroom setting. Our ladies and gents seem more comfortable with Interactive training than the classroom variety. They find great cheer in taking this sort of Course, and they are excited about the immediate satisfaction they receive. This ultimately results in a higher retention of the information on the topic they are learning. They may have trouble reading and writing, but with Interactive, they can proceed at their own pace without being embarrassed... and they will actually learn the material as well!'
Creating a 'class' structure where half of your employees aren't dozing off has always been a challenge. Participants of Interactive training must answer questions and press buttons in order to complete the course. The program usually moves along by clicks of a mouse, requiring employees to stay involved. And a quality computer-based program uses a variety of media throughout the course, providing workers with an assortment of 'inputs.' Still pictures, text, sound and full-motion video can all be brought into play.
Today, Interactive training is also finally affordable. You should be able to find a concise, consistent, quality-driven course for around £650 each..., about what a good quality video costs. Companies are generally following the 1 to 100 rule (one PC for every 100 employees) to determine hardware requirements, which are quite economical with current computer prices. Plus, you can find a large number of safety topics available on CD-ROM, ranging from Back Safety to Workplace Violence.
There are many other advantages to Interactive Computer-Based training as well. Like videotape training, Interactive can bring true to life situations to the employees by way of the full motion video player. Safety managers know that all of their workers are learning the same principles and skills. And by learning interactively, both workers and managers stay interested while they absorb valuable information that can be critical to their jobs. The end result is better retention... and better, safer work habits from your employees.
The question of record-keeping, usually a very time-consuming task, is completely resolved as well. With a good Interactive Training Management System a safety trainer can monitor who is taking which course, how well employees are doing, send reminder 'E-mail' to employees, and if there is an accident or investigation, print out a complete list of who took what course... for the entire work force! But make certain to look closely to what you are purchasing. Most sellers of Interactive training include Training Management capabilities with the purchase of a course. But some companies only provide this software at an additional cost. Know what you are paying for.
Another benefit of using Interactive CD-ROM Training is the flexibility of the programs themselves. Often, you can easily tailor the courses for each site you manage. But again, make sure you know what you are getting with your purchase. Some Interactive CD-ROM producers offer several different levels for these capabilities at various levels, often as part of the Training Management System. You should know what capabilities you need to have for your training environment... and make sure you ask the right questions when you talk to a sales rep.
Even the most enthusiastic believers in Interactive training doubt that you could ever totally replace hands-on training. For some topics, such as Forklift and Confined Space Entry, this is obviously true. But there's no question that Interactive does do a better job of conveying most safety information to employees... and what is more important, getting it to stick in their heads. Companies are beginning to jump on the Interactive 'train,' and get the type of training that counts... 'pound for pound'. That's what this technology is all about. It's not to replace the safety trainer, but to let them spend their time where it is the most beneficial... organizing, monitoring and adjusting safety training to make the whole process more efficient.