When Lives are on the Line: Modern Learning for High Consequence Industries
In high-consequence industries, learning and development can be the difference between life and death.
A service technician enters a nuclear power plant to conduct highly sensitive repairs on a damaged reactor. A firefighter dashes into a building ablaze to save a life. Electrical utility personnel struggle to restore downed power lines after a hurricane. For workers in these kinds of high consequence industries, who often have to perform high-risk tasks, learning and development is not a nice to have, it’s an imperative and, sometimes, the difference between life and death.
Poor planning, improper training, a lack of knowledge concerning the regulations governing work in high-risk environments, or a lack of appreciation for the risks involved, can put people directly in harm’s way. For high consequence industries such as energy and fire and rescue among others, effective learning and development programs are critical for ensuring survival and success.
To be effective, training initiatives in such industries and occupations need to be strategically aligned with the objectives, policies, and procedures of the organization and designed to address specific challenges and equip employees with the tools they need to minimize risk and generate a true return on training investment. However, they also need to be modern in their approach. It is absolutely essential for workers in high consequence industries to master the skills they need to keep themselves and others safe, and that means creating training programs that are designed to engage today’s modern learners.
If you are a learning and development professional working in a high consequence industry, here are a few tips you can use to develop an effective and engaging modern learning strategy.
Achieve organizational alignment around your learning strategy
Every modern learning strategy requires organizational alignment around key objectives. This is especially important in high consequence industries in which employees are often taking high-risk actions.
- Start by creating a playbook to help rally your team around an effective modern learning strategy.
- Leverage a modern learning platform that enables an interactive, digital learning experience where critical data and learning content can be centralized and consumed at the point of need to maximize crucial in-person and on-the-job training. Look for platforms that have these five characteristics in particular.
- Make sure your platform and approach support mobile-enabled anywhere, anytime learning in order to support workers who are often in the field and rarely in the office.
Consider competency management
Competency management is becoming increasingly popular in the workplace as employers look to define what constitutes success in a role and in the organization.
- Competency models include a collection of competencies, or a competency map, that characterize successful job performance. Learning leaders are increasingly implementing competency models to demonstrate worker mastery of the requisite skills, knowledge, and behaviors needed to succeed in a role, link learning to organizational strategy, reduce risk to the organization, and improve compliance with external regulatory bodies such as governments, professional associations, or unions.
Add interactive and experiential elements to make learning more engaging
Employing interactive elements such as video, gamification, and quick and easy content creation capabilities can create an engaging modern learning experience. These days, employers within high consequence industries are starting to take interactive and experiential learning to the next level with technologies such as virtual and augmented reality. This type of learning enables high consequence industry employer to put their workers into real-as-life locations and situations where they can safely rehearse procedures and practice their training without negative consequences.
According to Brandon Hall Group Learning and Strategy Research, as cited in Training Magazine, interest in using game-based technology and simulations has increased significantly among these companies, as more than 30 percent identify these techy tools as a top learning priority for the next 12 to 24 months. This constitutes a 66 percent increase from 2016.
The advantages of virtual reality-based training include:
- Improved safety in on-the-job training
- Low-cost, comprehensive education for new employees
- Increased productivity
- Saves time and money with remote learning
- Works for various learning styles
- Makes training enjoyable and engaging
Brandon Hall Group’s Learning Strategy research also found that among high-consequence industries, about 45 percent consider these types of simulations either important or critical to achieving their business goals over the next 18 to 24 months.
High consequence learning and development in action
When energy and environmental technologies and services company Babcock and Wilcox(B&W Canada) sends a service technician into a nuclear power plant, its workers are required to understand and follow strict quality assurance requirements. Procedural compliance is absolutely critical; with safety being a paramount consideration throughout the industry, it is essential to ensure that technicians fully understand procedures and are trained to follow the most current version of a process.
As a base requirement to remaining on their customers’ respective lists of approved suppliers and ensuring its compliance with key procedures, the company is frequently audited. To create a more dynamic learning experience, B&W Canada adopted a modern learning platform to replace its dated, paper-based training. Learning professionals in high consequence industries wishing to follow in B&W Canada’s footsteps should consider a modern learning strategy that includes:
- Quizzes to incrementally assess learning and mastery
- Personalized learning paths to help workers attain learning goals and to address knowledge gaps
- Video for learning reflections
Are your workers operating in a high consequence environment where their training is mission critical and failure in the field is simply not an option? Contact our Learning Strategy and Consulting Services team to learn how a modern learning strategy can help prepare employees to succeed in high-risk situations.