4 Ways to Build a Successful Global Safety Training Program

May 6, 2022 | Reskill Your Workforce | 12 min read

Well-designed and executed health and safety programs transform the way employees approach their work and have the potential to transform an organization’s culture. That’s why it’s so important to think critically about how your organization builds its training program – what problems are you solving for? What are your goals? What will success look like?

Skillsoft recently had an opportunity to sit down with Lynn Ross, senior director global operations training and development at Equinix, to discuss how the global, decentralized organization has approached its safety training program.

Lynn has an impressive track record in developing effective training programs, including:

  • Building the learning and strategy program at GE Healthcare from the ground, up, and spending more than 40 years of her career driving efficiencies in quality and compliance
  • Establishing the Johnson Controls Operations Academy to support the organization’s operations excellence regionally

Today, Lynn plays a critical and influential role in standing up a new global training organization for Equinix. She is working on developing a global operations training roadmap that creates a competent and empowered operations organization.

Here are four useful tips from Lynn for anyone beginning to build a global safety training program.

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Look for Opportunities to Get Your Audience Right

Global organizations face many of the same challenges as they look to stand up a comprehensive training program. But perhaps one of the most impactful is getting their audience right.

Said Lynn, “You need to understand who your audience is: What do they do? What do they need to know? When it comes to safety, there are many cultural differences and regional regulations that need to be considered as part of your overall program.”

Under-resourced organizations may be tempted to create a comprehensive list of key training topics they need to address around the globe – then require all employees to take all courses to help simplify their efforts. However, approaching your training program with this one-size-fits-all mentality tends to miss the mark.

It’s important to consider that each of your employees is coming from a unique place within your organization. Some questions that you may want to ask yourself as you assemble the courses they’ll need to become compliant include:

  • Are they an individual contributor or a manager?
  • Do they work primarily in the office or in the field?
  • Where do they live? Are there specific regulations associated with that region?
  • How might they learn best?

When it comes to safety, there are cultural differences, regional regulations, and other things to consider. “The assumption that training is one-size-fits-all might hold you back as you build out your global training program,” said Lynn. “There are so many layers of content to consider – not to mention how your organization creates awareness around that content.”

When Lynn began working with Equinix, she spent three months doing a virtual learning and listening tour of the company’s office locations to help her better understand the employees to be trained. Her goal was to recognize who the team is, what they do, and how they learn. She led more than 20 workshops where she and her team outlined and mapped 200+ critical skills and four specific roles that helped them to outline and map their training curricula in a way that truly reflected employees’ day-to-day.

The overall impact of considering their training program from the perspective of individual situations, experiences, and even learning modalities was overwhelming.

Find Partners to Help Grow Your Program

Everyone has a specific role to play in the development of a globally effective compliance program. Organizations must understand who their employees are and what they need to learn to reduce risk. It is the role of a compliance training partner, like Skillsoft, to develop the content necessary for organizations to reach their specific goals.

According to Lynn, choosing a partner that offers a customizable course catalog of environmental, health, and safety (EHS) content allows organizations to make maximum impact. She said, “Equinix understands what Equinix employees need to learn, and when. Skillsoft understands how to mitigate risk and creates compliance training courses based on that knowledge.”

Working together as partners enables each organization to do what they do best:

  • Equinix devotes its time and resources to deciding how to customize content to each employee, how to deliver training in the most effective way, and how to build an effective training roadmap
  • Skillsoft devotes its time to creating effective, customizable course content that truly mitigates risk

Said Lynn, “My partnership with Skillsoft is critical. I don’t have to think about where the content comes from – it is already in Skillsoft’s library.”

Together, your organization and Skillsoft can create a customized global content roadmap that is able to address rapidly changing requirements and regulations.

Facilitate Learning in the Flow of Work (Training in the Know)

Nowadays, it seems like learning must fit in seamlessly with the new ways that people work – whether that’s at a desk or on a factory floor, all in one room or separately across multiple locations. How can organizations incorporate this new reality into their training programs?

Lynn likes to share an anecdote to help illustrate the importance of what she calls “training in the know” – or learning that takes place exactly when someone needs to know something. Here at Skillsoft, we call it “learning in the flow of work.”

Imagine you are about to go on a bike ride and your chain falls off. Maybe you have a general idea how to fix it, but you can’t remember the details. But you are all dressed in your gear and you’re planning to leave soon, so you need access to the information you’re looking for as soon as possible.

You probably wouldn’t sign up for an in-person course on bike maintenance. Or take time out of your day to engage in a 45-minute training session with a quiz at the end. Instead, it would likely be most useful to you to watch a two-minute YouTube video showing you how to fix the chain.

Not only would you get the information you need when you need it, but you would learn what you need to know by seeing and hearing it. Chances are, you’ll be able to recall that information more accurately later because you were able to learn it in the flow of work – when you needed it.

Learning in the know is just one way to equip your workforce with the information they need to stay safe, mitigate risk, and apply the skills they need when they need them. It is how many organizations are working to empower their workforce at faster rates than ever before.

Engage Learners with a Blended Approach

It’s important to build learning opportunities into the flow of work – to ensure that once the right content is in front of an employee, learning happens. One of the best ways to ensure that learning happens is to engage learners with a blended approach.

Lynn talked about how the workforce is changing: “The new generation of workers grew up extremely tech savvy. They expect to receive information quickly; if they do not receive it when they need it, they tend to grow bored.”

With that in mind, it is imperative that organizations work to engage all styles of learning – acknowledging who works best, and how. While it may not be a smart budgetary decision to create a handful of delivery methods for each compliance course that your organization offers, it is certainly something you should consider as you are figuring out the modalities of learning to incorporate into your training program.

According to Lynn, the possibilities for effective training are endless. Global organizations have a huge opportunity to create a custom compliance training program that engages learners where they are and takes compliance from a check-the-box program to something bigger. She urges: “Have fun! Make sure the programs you’re offering can keep the people you serve safe, but don’t be afraid to try new things.”

At the end of the day, a successful compliance program isn’t about rules – it’s about people. The Equinix value statement says it all: I’m safe. I belong. I matter.