HR Management & Compliance

Is Your Training Effective? Well … Ask the Trainees! 

Is your safety training getting the job done? You may have your own ideas on that score, but it can also be useful to find out what your employees think. Of course, this is helpful for your training beyond safety as well.

When you’re soliciting feedback from workers, timing is a critical consideration. What they remember and what they think will be useful may be different immediately after training than it will be just a few weeks later—but evaluations at both points can give you useful information.

Immediately After Training

It’s important to find out how workers felt about their training immediately afterward. At this point, their memory is freshest about whether the trainer was engaging, what methods were the most engaging and informative for them, and any specific details they want to convey. Have workers fill out a survey at the end of the session to help you determine:

  • Whether the trainer was effective. If you used a live trainer, was he or she effective? Did he or she connect with the workers? Or did employees feel that the trainer was unprepared, talked down to them, lacked mastery of the material, or droned dully along? For multilingual training, was your trainer fluent enough to convey the required concepts effectively?
  • Whether the material was relevant. If the material wasn’t relevant to their jobs, workers will feel that their time was wasted—something neither you nor they want.
  • Whether the venue itself was an issue. Where are you conducting your training? If you’re training workers off-site, ask them whether the venue was easy to find and had adequate parking. Regardless of where the training was conducted, ask whether anything about the venue was distracting or uncomfortable—was there too much environmental noise, was it uncomfortably cold or hot, or were needed equipment and supplies missing?
  • Whether they learned anything. This is the traditional pretest/posttest setup: What did workers know going in? What had they learned by the time they came out? A basic written or practical evaluation can answer this question.

The answers to all of these questions can be used to tweak future training sessions and can improve their effectiveness.

At a Later Date

Anything we don’t use, we tend to forget. There are two questions that need to be answered once trainees have taken their training back to work:

  1. Was the training useful to employees? If they aren’t using it, they’ve likely forgotten it within a matter of weeks.
  2. Are employees putting their training into practice? If not, why not? Was the training poorly targeted to their job tasks? Were they not given the tools to implement their training? Do jobsite factors make their training difficult to implement?

You can obtain a partial answer to these two questions by asking workers directly about various aspects of their training, whether they are using those aspects, and whether they find that their training is not a good fit for the work they are actually trying to do. But, you may also need to assess these factors by direct observation by having supervisors evaluate actual worker performance against a checklist of desired outcomes and noting any issues that they see.
If workers aren’t remembering what they’ve been taught, perhaps a brief refresher is all that’s needed. After all, we remember things better when they’re repeated at intervals. Design your toolbox training sessions around the most important points that workers should grasp, and reinforce initial training with periodic brief reminders.
If workers can’t implement their training because of jobsite factors or because they’re missing tools they need, that’s a different issue—but one that you can also effectively address.