We all know the routine: once a year, we get an email from some member of leadership reminding us the Annual Training season is upon us and we must log in to some portal and click some buttons and watch some video (or worse, animated slides). Once we’ve complied, we take the quiz and are rewarded with an electronic certificate saying we’ve met the obligation for another year. If we’re especially lucky, we don’t even have a quiz and there is no coded keystroke monitor that prevents us from clicking through as quickly as possible so we can get back to our real work. I, myself, am guilty of mindlessly advancing the slides and haphazardly choosing a response to scenario examples while sitting on a conference call where no one can see me not pay attention. Of course, all my co-workers were doing the same thing on their end, as well. Is it any wonder we’re not actually learning anything?
Think back for a minute – of any of your mandatory annual training topics last year, do you remember one specific detail about any one of them? No? Me neither. If we want employees to take a subject seriously, and actually retain something, it’s time to go back to face-to-face interactions.
I’ve been teaching harassment training in one form or another for years. And I have former co-workers, to this day, remember the stories I shared and the impassioned and only slightly facetious plea to “PLEASE DON’T TOUCH YOUR CO-WORKERS!” Those employees, although not in love with the idea of sitting through another training session, were engaged and entertained for the hour or two they were at my mercy. And most importantly, they retained what I had to say. Not like those mind-numbing online training modules with the computerized voice and periodically required click-throughs that supposedly assess understanding.
Based on my social media feeds being inundated with headlines and hashtags in the workplace, I’d say that while organizations have gotten really good at ensuring every employee checks the box, we’re still failing to promote understanding and change behavior. At the end of the day, what’s more expensive or time-consuming: live training with a person that can engage your employees and make a long-standing impression that will result in changed behavior and a better, safer workplace for all? Or flat, uninspiring technology that requires nothing more of your employees than a few clicks of the mouse and does nothing to prevent lost productivity, unnecessary legal fees, and negative publicity?