HR Management & Compliance

Make Sure Trainees Can Always Answer the WIIFM? Question

In yesterday’s Advisor, we got news on training trends from safety consultant, Ross Luko. Today, we hear more from Luko on how to ensure that trainees always know the answer to “what’s in it for me?” (WIIFM?).

One of the biggest obstacles to successful training is the employee who does not know why he or she is sitting through the session. According to Ross Luko, project manager of consultation for Amerisafe Consulting and Safety Services (, employers often tell workers that they must complete a particular training before being allowed on the site or in the field. That’s not a strong motivation. He says employees need to be aware of the larger purpose—to keep them safe and healthy for their families.
Good trainers must constantly seek ways to get and keep participants engaged. Sometimes asking the right questions is the key. Luko recalls a recent training session on emergency planning at a client site.  “We were talking about muster (meeting) points and I asked people where they would be expected to meet in case of an emergency.” No one had a clue.
While not the response Luko would have liked, it did provide an opportunity to engage the audience and share potentially life-saving information. “This was their workplace, yet they had never thought about where to meet in case of an emergency. Asking the question changed the tone of the conversation greatly.

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“We talked about accountability, who will take head count, who will notify emergency personnel, and other matters.” Luko says the trainees began to actually envision themselves in a possible emergency situation, which is exactly what you want.
Luko also lists the following additional tips for training success:

  • Mix up your strategies, like telling jokes or anecdotes, asking questions, and moving around the room. Keep trainees wondering what’s coming next.
  • Get and keep management support for your training program. Encourage executives to sit in on training sessions to see what employees experience.
  • Illustrate your points with examples that are highly relevant to the employees you’re training.
  • Build rapport with your trainees.
  • Keep things fun and interesting. “Once you lose them, it’s hard to get them back,” adds Luko.

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Training your employees to identify, respect, and eliminate risk is a huge undertaking. Whether you hire and oversee outside trainers or conduct the training yourself, make sure workers are getting the knowledge they need to stay safe.
If you want to make a positive change, be willing to take a good, objective look at what you’re currently offering. Talk to or survey employees, consult with colleagues within and outside your industry, read books, and attend webinars. Make sure you’re reaching your audience with focused, relevant information that will affect not only how they behave on the job tomorrow, but also how they think about safety throughout their lives.
There are vast training resources, including from BLR® at, available on OSHA, NIOSH, industry and association websites, and the National Safety Council, among many others.

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