Workplace training and skills development methods may vary based on needs, hiring cycles, circumstances, or requirements set by OSHA and other safety entities. One training method will not meet all training needs, which is why a combination of approaches and strategies is the best option. Explore these common types of training, related benefits, and when each training type is ideal.
Why Is Workplace Training Important?
Team-building helps improve overall safety culture, but without proper training, staff members face unnecessary health and safety risks. From the most basic facility orientation to tools and equipment training and certifications for forklift and machinery operators, staff needs a variety of instruction and practice at all stages of employment. Beyond preparing for held roles, cross-training and investing in further instruction better positions employees for growth within the agency, keeping the workforce adaptable and retaining valuable talent—which improves organizational efficiency.
Facilitated Orientation and Onboarding
Perhaps the most in-depth training occurs during new employee orientation and onboarding processes. Floor marking tape, signage, posters, and notices and warnings are imperative in this phase of training. Covering general safety and on-site procedures are common first steps, but these onboarding opportunities should also include important how-tos in terms of spotting and reporting concerns, as well as a roadmap for the employee’s future. Setting goals and expectations early helps track employee performance, identify areas that need improvement, uncover untapped skills, and increase overall staff engagement.
Hands-On Training and Apprenticeship
Training doesn’t stop after orientation: Whether for promotion or to reach certifications required for the job, hands-on training and apprenticeship build on existing foundations of knowledge. Beyond preparing an employee for the job’s specific tasks, in-depth training is an investment in individual staff members and full teams. Skill-building benefits the company, the employee, and the team by providing targeted training goals that contribute to the facility’s goals and overall growth. Building well-trained teams can reduce employee burnout and prevent staff turnover while having widely knowledgeable staff helps increase accountability and autonomy across departments.
Peer-Led Training Opportunities
Not all training must be completed in an official capacity. Each employee has the potential to guide other staff members through daily interaction or more formal instruction. Kaizen event roles provide opportunities for staff members to learn from each other, and for collaboration and education across departments. Asking established employees to train newcomers, or pairing a recent hire with a staff member for on-the-floor training can remove pressure from the training process—but may also reveal insufficient knowledge of procedures or safety protocol, which helps improve the onboarding process as well as inform future refresher courses.
Self-Paced Training Materials
Beyond the required materials, such as OSHA and related safety handbooks, safety details related to chemical and other hazards, and mandated guidebooks, self-paced training materials can promote further learning, leading to a better-prepared staff.
Make a variety of formats available, including:
- On-demand video lessons
- Printed and digital manual library
- Lending library of industry-specific guides
- Access to online learning materials
- Curated YouTube channel with relevant videos
- Paid or partly funded outside courses
Consider providing incentives or rewards to encourage employees to use available training materials. Depending on the difficulty level or time required to participate in learning tasks, you could provide an extra paid vacation day after completing a new certification, free lunch for employees who finish a course, or enamel pins to celebrate individual learning achievements.
Re-Training and Learning New Processes
Training doesn’t stop after staff has learned the ropes. Regular refresher courses or opportunities for re-training are important to ensure all employees are performing their jobs safely. Beyond required learning sessions and revisiting safety requirements if there are concerns—for example, safety issues, OSHA violations, or accident reports—training is necessary if processes are updated or changed. Support staff members using clear visual cues with process reminders to reinforce learning, and always ensure floor marking tape and required signage are up-to-date and in good condition. To improve memory through repetition, consider applying a Safety School Kit in entry locations to remind employees of all visual cues they may encounter throughout the facility. Frequent exposure to visual cues can speed reaction time and ensures employees keep safety top-of-mind.
Opportunities for Further Learning
When you invest in employees, you have a more engaged, dedicated staff that’s able to perform under pressure and willing to step up when needed. In facilities where growth is encouraged, staff members often stick around longer. Employee longevity is beneficial to the company, as a whole, as staff retention means less disruption and time lost searching for and training replacements. Consider what encouraging employee growth looks like in your facility. Provide guidance for employees who wish to improve technical skills, open up space on safety committees for new members, give the long-term staff the option to explore new possibilities within the facility, and encourage all employees to continue learning and developing new skills.
A training and employee education strategy that gets new hires up to speed, involves a variety of staff members, and allows for growth can improve overall safety and staff retention, which in turn improves productivity. For more tips for investing in staff safety and improving industrial workplaces, explore our Resource Center.