Ensuring workplace safety is a cause of great concern for organizations. Making employees aware about safety procedures and ensuring that they are able to handle crisis effectively is a critical part of compliance in all kinds of workplaces, especially in the highly regulated industries. A lot of this success depends on how organizations can mould the behaviour and attitude of employees towards maintaining safety in the workplace.

Unfortunately, most organizations just rush through safety trainings and treat it like a box-ticking activity. Programs for the prevention of work related injuries and diseases are developed without taking employee attitudes and preferences into consideration. Overlooking such factors often lead to serious and irreversible damages. A negative attitude at work can increase the chances of an injury. It can also lead to workers been absent minded and under productive. This is a huge cost to organizations. According to the 2017 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, organizations in America suffered losses worth 59.9 billion USD due to safety related incidents at work.

This does not benefit anyone. The resources spent on training go to a waste and the lives of employees also get further endangered.  The ideal solution for this is to ensure a way in which the huge amount of safety information is transferred to the trainees in engaging and retaining ways.  Employees also need to be motivated and driven towards ensuring safety of themselves, their peers and workplaces. Fortunately, microlearning provides an environment to achieve this.

Microlearning as a training tool uses principles that help employees become better aware of safety procedures, and also keeps them engaged and motivated while doing so. Besides adding to the intellectual knowledge of the employees about safety techniques, microlearning also helps change human attitudes.

Let’s look at how microlearning actually helps change employee attitude towards workplace safety:

1. Microlearning is engaging

Traditional safety training programs usually consist of handing over heavy manuals to workers, expecting them to go through it in detail. Such bulky manuals are of no use. They are not only boring, but also cannot be expected to be flipped through during the time of an actual emergency.

Microlearning is engaging. It provides workers with the same information, but in smaller, more digestible chunks. The content offered is also carefully crafted by instructional designers who understand the background of who they are creating the information for. Unlike a manual, microlearning does not cause a cognitive load on the brains of employees. Each safety concept is presented through interesting scenarios, rich media, videos and visual imagery. Strategies such as storytelling and scenario based learning use real-life and relatable aspects that workers go through in their daily lives. It also presents adverse effects of what could happen if safety procedures are not followed.

An example is that of Walmart. The retail giant has developed a mobile app for its warehouse workers. This app includes brief videos that focus on how to do basic tasks on the job, such as driving a forklift or positioning ladders. Post this initiative, the number of injuries fell by almost half during a six-month trial period among 5000 workers.

2. Microlearning is personalized

If the objective of a learning program is behaviour or attitude change, giving personal and customized attention to that person is a necessary prerequisite. Only when an employee feels like his organizational genuinely cares about his growth and safety will he fully immerse himself in the learning experience. In other words, will actually want to change from within.

Microlearning offers personalized learning that focuses on “flow” rather than “instruction.”

It understands that each learner is unique and so is their learning style. It does not force a one-size fits all approach while conducting training. Each individual learner’s personal style is assessed through predictive analytics and relevant content is pushed out to him/her accordingly. Such personalized experiences not only increase engagement, but also help align the training program with the preferences of the learner.

3. Microlearning provides a risk-free learning environment

For traditional versions of employee training, there is a natural element of fear and anxiety associated. Employees might also view it as something they “have to” suffer through since it is forced on them. Such a base makes the entire process unwanted and gloomy. The level of enthusiasm is low which spills into lower participation or knowledge retention levels.

This is where the role of microlearning fits in. As per a study referenced by Gabe Zichermann, the founder of Dopamine Inc, finding a way to make work fun would increase employee’s ability to retain skills by 40%. With microlearning helping learners learn as per their own pace and preferences, it ensures that learners also remain productive. Making regular course material fun and including notions of play, with scenario based learning and gamification leads to increased willingness to participate and engage.

Because the environment is more relaxed and the learner is just with himself, “have to” gets translated to “want to.” The atmosphere inducing fear and anxiety no longer exists in a gamified environment and the learner can fail and get up, without his self esteem getting hurt in the process. Besides, gamified lessons are much more popular and help increase retention as learners feel a stronger connection to the course material.

4. Microlearning motivates learners to do better

Learner motivation is the biggest factor that matters when it comes to successful training completion. If the training does not include elements that make the learner more and more curious, chances are high that the training is not going to make sense or would be left incomplete. Traditional training programs do not keep learners motivated in this sense as the course is boring, forced upon and not at all flexible.

Human beings have a natural desire to be curious, to be able to discover and learn new things often. Gamification acts on these very senses and allows for learners to have an immersive experience which motivates to reach goals. Using online learning technology to reward learners with points, badges, certificates of completion, cash incentives etc. motivates learners to engage and work harder to reach a certain goal. Adding some level of competition by creation of badges or point leaderboards can also enable learners to set higher standards of achievement and be proud of their performance.

Bringing about a change in attitude in people is easier said than done. If behaviours in workplaces are to be changes, they need to be carefully analysed first. Ask your employees questions through surveys and gauge what they feel. On the basis of that, craft out microlearning initiatives for them, keeping the needs of each one of them in mind. Only when the concern is genuine and personalized will they open up to management and want to change.

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