Training members can be time-consuming and expensive, made all the more so by budgeting for travel time and renting a space. But there are alternatives that aim to streamline member training.
With on-site training benefits, not only does the union save money, but it can also provide a message that's tailored to members' unique roles, responsibilities and locations. Although on-site training can be used for any form of general instruction, it's best suited for topics related to safety and wellness. In these instances, the practical nature of a robust, hands-on learning environment leads to improved comprehension that can result in better member health and lower health care and insurance costs.
The Importance of On-Site Training
Members trained on-site gain access to a dedicated expert who can customize discussions and tutorials to the group present and to the specifics of the job site. Members learn in a group with their peers, fostering camaraderie that isn't necessarily possible in a generic off-site location.
Whether addressing weaknesses or simply increasing their knowledge and skills, adult learners tend to retain information better in a place where they're comfortable. Plus, they can get back to work faster when the training is complete, resulting in less time off the job.
Leveraging On-Site Training for Health Benefits
On-site training benefits can result in health care cost savings for members and the union alike. Especially when teaching members ways to avoid injury on the job, site-specific training can draw on members' actual working environment to make the safety tips more specific and effective.
Members must be trained on injuries common to the role or site and how to avoid them, as well as the benefits available to address their health and wellness concerns. What makes sense for a grocer may not apply to an electrician, teacher or bus driver. Members also need to understand where to find safety equipment, the best evacuation routes and what to do in the case of an emergency.
When given the flexibility of leveraging the actual job site, trainers can provide interactive learning opportunities like conducting a drill or demonstrating how to use a certain machine. This live instruction increases a member's level of retention by immediately pairing the theoretical with the practical. It also opens up the opportunity for members to ask more job- or site-specific questions, further ensuring consistent understanding among members at the site.
Partnering With Employers to Provide On-Site Training
Because your members are likely spread across multiple job sites, it can be difficult — both financially and logistically — for the union to provide every training. To alleviate some of this burden while still reaping the benefits of on-site training, consider partnering with your members' employers.
Meet with employers to discuss the mutual benefit of ensuring members are properly trained. Well-trained staff can be more productive, make fewer mistakes and stay healthier on the job. Then, offer to provide training materials, help with preparation or recruit a member from that location to assist with training delivery.
Training members on-site is critical for their job performance, health and safety. This doesn't stop at onboarding; members can benefit from on-site learning opportunities on a variety of topics and should frequently have the chance to brush up on their skills and stay current with union policy and procedures.
Heather Kerrigan started her career in journalism at Governing magazine, reporting on state and local politics and policy, with a specific focus on public workforce, environment, health care, education and technology issues. Prior to co-founding River Horse Communications, Heather offered freelance editorial services to a variety of outlets, including serving as volume editor and lead author for SAGE Publications' Historic Documents series and editor-in-chief of The Kanter Journal. Heather also blogs for two government-focused publications, GovLoop and NEOGOV, covering issues of importance to federal employees. Heather is the author of the book Retire Rich With Your 401(k) Plan. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from The George Washington University.