The truth is if you have a physical job combined with low pay and long work hours, you will not be attracting many Harvard graduates.
To be a widget maker in the widget factory, you need only a pulse, a strong back, and to show up at work every day ready to work. You are an equal opportunity employer and you welcome people from any background. So how do you keep your employees from sawing an arm off?
1. Keep safety lessons short and sweet.
Most of the knowledge a worker will need to make widgets they are going to learn on the job floor. If you sit them in a classroom and drone on for hours in technical language you might as well give them a pillow. Plus classroom-type learning takes them away from what you hired them to do, which is work on the floor creating widgets. So let the teaching be while they are doing the job. Have a veteran employee shadow them and walk them through the process, correcting mistakes as they go along. Eventually they will get it and learn from their mistakes. Hands-on is much more effective than reading in a book.
2. Safety lessons should be short tidbits over time, not delivered all at once.
I recall a professor once told me you cannot eat 6 months’ worth of pizza in one sitting. But if you spread out 6 months’ worth of pizza over 6 months, you have a chance. Widget workers do not possess the brain capacity to handle large loads of new info all at once. So keep training short and sweet, and do it often.
3. If the lesson is not relevant to their exact job you are wasting your time.
If making a widget is what a person does, try not to waste time explaining to them how you plan on selling these widgets to a new market niche. Not only do they not care, but it is irrelevant to their job. If a widget maker has a job welding, keep safety training about welding. If a widget maker only polishes widgets, then make the safety about how to polish correctly without hurting themselves. Most widget makers will agree: They are not working here to become CEO one day. They just want to do their widget job, make money, and go home. So keep training and job safety specific to their daily tasks. Try to stay within their bubble without straying outside out of it. Chances are you will have a better success rate.
4. Give an incentive for learning and for being safe.
Widget makers really do not care about the costs the owner has to incur from injuries or lost time away from work. They say it is not their money anyway, so they do not care. However, if you give them a financial incentive for being safe or for hitting a production rate, they now care. Money talks all languages and reaches all masses. Now that they have some skin in the game, there is an interest in hitting whatever safety goal you set. Keep short-term goals, and extend that to a longer-term goal with a bigger incentive.
Author Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center, which offers the Certified Master of Workers’ Compensation national designation.
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