Why do employees resist compliance training?

John Curran, November 30, 2016

There are laws in place that state every employer must provide their employees with relevant training to ensure that they can complete their daily tasks in a safe manner. You would therefore be forgiven for thinking, that employees would be delighted that their employers were so concerned over their wellbeing.

However, this is not the case – time after time you hear groans around the workplace when it’s time to do the annual health and safety training, people shove it to the bottom of the to do list and find any reason possible to ignore the reminders that their training is due.
So the big question here is why would employees be so reluctant to take time to complete training which is specifically designed to keep them safe? The whole point of the training is to make sure people return home to their loved ones in the same state they left them in so why wouldn’t we be chomping at the bit to spend time keeping ourselves well?

I wish I had the answer to these questions as I am sure I would be very popular, however I don’t. I can simply listen to feedback and make assumptions based on what I see when I look around the industry.
It is a common theme that health and safety training is dull, it is non imaginative, laborious, out of date, houses huge sections of irrelevant material and takes time away from more important tasks. But surely nothing is more important than our health and safety…

One potential reason why providers of health and safety training content may be dropping the ball is because employers HAVE to buy it from someone so because it is a requirement it doesn’t need the same imagination and ingenuity to encourage the sales to come in.

Another explanation could be that the industry itself has become caught up in the status quo and are happy to accept that the world will find their courses dull – one must really hope this is not the case!
Whatever the cause, we must focus on a solution.

So, what can employers do to help counter this ingrained attitude?

There are some really simple steps that every employer can take to battle with the norm on this issue.

Firstly, employers should only select course providers who regularly update and refresh their courses. Not just when legislation changes but proactively to reflect new design practices, enhanced engagement and stop material becoming stale and predictable.

Secondly, you should look for courses which are relevant to your worker’s situations and environments. Spending 10 minutes learning how to safely evacuate a high rise office building when you work in a one story warehouse surely seems like a poor use of time!

Finally, educate your workforce as to why you are giving them this training. Don’t make it seem like “something that just has to be done” but explain in real terms some of the consequences of not completing crucial training. For example, explain that if they try to pick up a heavy item using incorrect manual handling techniques that could mean; months off work, financial struggles, long term effects on health and undue strain in the home. By making the reality clear to employees they will soon see that you are not just ticking a box but helping keep them safe for their sake, not yours.

As an employer there are a number of reasons why you should follow the law in terms of training provision, the welfare of your employees of course is a major factor but also the safeguarding of your business. Some of the options above may only seem possible by having expensive bespoke courses built, however that is not necessarily the case. For example, there are companies, who offer built in tools allowing you to use standard content in a more flexible fashion to ensure context and content is relevant in the courses you are deploying.

Changing culture and attitudes is not an easy task but if an employee can see quality and relevance in the training you are asking them to undertake then they are much more likely to take the time out of their day to complete the courses as required. More courses completed means a safer workforce means a safer bubble for your company to sit within – a win-win situation if ever there was one.

This is an eLN CONNECT Conference Guest Post by Toby Roberts, Managing Director of Safety Media Ltd