Microlearning: The Key to Building a Safety Culture, One Employee at a Time

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Dave Blanchard:

Hello and welcome to today’s EHSToday webcast, Microlearning: The Key to building a Safety Culture, One Employee at a Time, it’s sponsored by Axonify. My name is Dave Blanchard, I’m the editor in chief of EHSToday. Before we get started, let me just briefly explain how you can participate in today’s presentation. So first, if at any time you have audio difficulties or the slides don’t seem to be advancing, simply hit your F5 key to refresh your webcast console. If you have any technical difficulties during today’s session, please press the help button on your player console to receive assistance in solving common issues. The webinar technology that we use will allow you to resize the presentation by clicking the maximize icon or by dragging the lower right corner to enlarge the window.

We welcome your questions during today’s event. Now, in order to submit your questions to today’s presenter, simply type your question into the question window on the left side of your screen, and then make sure you hit the submit button. We’ll answer as many questions as possible during the Q&A session that will follow the main presentation, but please feel free to send in your questions at any time and we’ll add your questions to the Q. Please also be aware that today’s session is being recorded and will be available on the EHSToday website within the next week for you to review and you’ll be notified by email when the archive is available.

Also, on your console, you’ll see the Axonify logo and that logo is hotlinked, so if you want to visit their website during this webcast, you can click on the logo and a new window will open up, and don’t worry this will not take you out of the Webinar. Okay enough for the housekeeping, let me now introduce our presenter for the day. Carol Leaman is the CEO of Axonify Inc, a disruptor in the corporate learning space and an innovator behind the Axonify microlearning platform, which increases employee knowledge and performance necessary for achieving targeted business results.

Prior to Axonify, Carol was the CEO of PostRank, a social engagement analytics company that she sold to Google in June of 2011. Carol has also held CEO positions at several other technology firms, including RSS Solutions and Fakespace Systems. Carol also sits on the boards of many organizations, both charitable and for profit, and she advises a variety of high tech firms in Canada’s technology triangle. And with that, I’m going to turn it over to Carol Leaman. So Carol, the floor is yours.


Carol Leaman: 

Thanks very much Dave. I am excited to be here today talking to all of you about a topic that is so incredibly important and one where things are moving very rapidly and so we’ve got some exciting things hopefully to chat about today. The topic, Microlearning: The Key to building a Safety Culture, One Employee at a Time, and what I’m going to do is first start laying a bit of foundation by talking about a safety culture maturity model. It’s really going to set the stage for the whole topic of microlearning and why that is important in today’s safety environment. So I’ll describe what microlearning is, how to use it to build a safety culture and then give you some examples of organizations that are using microlearning in a safety application to really move the needle on their business outcomes when it comes to safety incidents.

The first thing I’m going to start with is what I mentioned a moment ago, there are quite a few safety culture maturity models out there and although many of them are similar, I want to reference this one which was put together by Sentis, which is an organization out of Australia. It’s very much based on implicit beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of employees within an organization. Sentis for those of you who don’t know, are experts in applied psychology, neuro-science and the world of safety culture since 2013, so about five years ago, they’ve worked with over 250 companies across 30 countries and have a very researched based approach to driving safety culture. They have some really interesting studies that they’ve done, which I think if you go on the Sentis website, you should be able to access, if not, we’d be happy to provide them to you.

The Sentis safety, oops, somehow we got into the poll which we’re not quite ready to ask yet, but one of the things that I want to do is just describe this safety culture maturity model and then I’m going to ask you where you sit on this model. What this model does is it describes the journey organizations take as they progressed toward safety excellence, detailing characteristics and revealing leavers of change. The model has five stages that range from counter productivity where safety’s not an organizational priority to compliance, where safety is an externally mandated requirement, up to citizenship, where safety is just how business is done and it’s seen as a way to collectively improve the organization.

A positive safety culture is one, as you would expect, where beliefs, assumptions, and attitudes shared by employees foster motivation to perform work safely that results in helpful safety behaviors. Organizations to the right on this chart, the safety, just as a part of doing business. The other side of that coin is the negative safety culture, and that’s one where safety management is impaired due to shared out of tubes and beliefs that are unhelpful in this case. In organizations with a negative safety culture, safety can be seen as a burden sometimes to getting the job done and an externally imposed requirement so something we have to do not that we want to do, and as a result compliance is erratic, and depends on the level of enforcement by leaders.

Employees are less inclined to get involved in the activities that go beyond what’s expected in their roles and the truth of matter is most organizations set really in the middle there in one of those two compliance bucket. What Sentis has found based on their research, is that an organization safety performance is tightly linked to where you are in this culture maturity model. Now to the poll, based on that description that I just gave you, why don’t you answer this question? Where are you? Where is your organization in this maturity model? Are you A, counter productivity where safety isn’t an organizational priority, B, public compliance where safety is seen as a burden that’s mandated and something you have to do, A, private compliance so safety is seen as being there to protect people in the organization and the organization itself, D, mateship, safety takes a team effort, and E, citizenship safety is just how business is done.

So take a moment and answer that poll and we’ll look at the results in just a couple of seconds when everybody’s had a chance to do that. While we’re waiting and giving everybody a chance to answer, really what the statement is self explanatory here. Organizations with the best safety record just completely understand that safety has to be rooted in the minds, attitudes and behaviors of workforce and leadership and the question really is how? I’m hoping that everybody’s had a chance to do the poll and let’s see where everybody is.

All right, so it looks like B and C are neck and neck with D just slightly behind and E. The good news is that nobody answered A, a saying that the safety culture safety is counterproductive within their organizations, and as expected, most organizations are in that B and C area as I mentioned a moment ago. So that’s great news and it looks like there’s an opportunity to continue to move up that maturity model. What I want to talk about next is microlearning and for those of you who have been in anything regarding the learning industry, you probably have heard of this term microlearning, most prevalently, I would say in the last year to year and a half. Previously it was referred to as bite size learning or bites chunking, those sorts of terms were used to refer to it and microlearning has become the term. So what is it?

Well, microlearning today is an approach to training that delivers content in those very, very short focused, very surgical almost bites of information. The good news is that those short little bites of information can be woven into the work day when the employee has a few minutes and having information conveyed in those micro moments, in fact maps to how the brain actually learns and retains information most optimally. So micro learning is a new technique that is being employed to really drive memory and retention in the brain very, very effectively.

Before we go further, we’re going to take a quick step back and really answer the question about why microlearning has suddenly become so hot. As I mentioned a moment, if you attend any of the learning conferences, this idea of micro bites is now everywhere. And really what’s happened is there’s been a three point collision of realities that have resulted in micro birding emerging as the best way to train and get employees to change behavior. That three point coalition is really these three things that you see on the slide. First of all, the new and changing characteristics of the modern employee. Employees today coming into the workforce have very different needs than folks who have been in careers for a lengthy period of time.

The second thing is that increasing knowledge demands on all of us today are unprecedented, we need to know more than ever before. The third thing is there has been some really interesting advancements in both science and technology that have provided the tools and techniques and the understanding with which to convey knowledge and information in a way that gets the employee to change their behavior, improve performance and get business outcomes for the organization. Let’s talk about each one of these very quickly. The first one, the changing characteristics about modern employee are really summarized here.

There was a report done a couple of years ago by a learning analyst that surveyed thousands of learners in organizations about the experience of training and essentially what they came down to, were a number of characteristics of these individuals in the workplace today, which really impact the way that they believe they’ve been trained and also the needs that they have and just a few of those characteristics are summarized on this slide. Things like attention span are now shorter than they’ve ever been, people are deskless, they’re wireless, they can access information on mobile devices if they need to, and they’re not necessarily able to take time away from the job and only have access to information in a classroom.

If they don’t know something, many of us, I’m sure many of you in the audience will turn to a mobile device and search for information on Google, for example, and that is not necessarily where you want your employees looking for information, so you need to provide it in a way that is accessible to them in that moment of need. 87% of employees believe that sharing knowledge with their team is critically important on the job, so there was a lot of conversation happening in the workplace today where learners are trying to help each other out with knowledge and information and they embrace those opportunities.

57% of interruptions happen during the day because we’re inundated with things coming out of through a variety of tools, so social media apps on phones are constantly a drain of our time and attention so we were just constantly inundated. Three quarters of workers state they’re stressed at work, that’s an incredible statistic. People are feeling very, very stressed at work, and the bottom line of all of it is that the average work weeks only allows 1% of an employees time to devote to training and development and as it happens, that’s about three to five minutes a day. So, very little attention can be focused on learning, which really at the end of the day is what you need people to do, they need to know in order to be top performers in the workplace.

The second thing that was in the three point collision, increasing knowledge demands. Again, I don’t know anybody who would argue with the fact that the pace of business today is absolutely mind boggling. Products change, processes change, people change, and employees just simply have to know more than they’ve ever had to know in the workplace. Everything is changing constantly and having a very agile environment where people can in fact acquire knowledge and information at a moment’s notice is absolutely essential, so there is intense pressure on the individual and the organization to be constantly adapting to that pace of change that’s going on today.

The bottom line is that despite the knowledge that these things need to be true, unfortunately in many situations, employees lack the knowledge they require to perform on the job, stay safe, and the cost of not knowing can be very, very expensive. The third thing in the bubble is advancements in science and technology, in that three point collision. There have been some really, really interesting advancements and studies done now about how human beings best learn and remember information that ultimately impacts behavior. There are some cognitive concepts that have been developed and studied many, many times now that really proves that learning and information is best absorbed in short bits.

Concepts like spaced repetition, which is the idea that you need to repeat and put some appropriate spacing in between each repetition where you have short bits of information, retrieval, where you’re getting the learner to retreat the knowledge from their own brain repeatedly versus just asking them or telling them what you need them to know, there are things like deep encoding where you train an associate information with other relevant concepts to just help solidify it further. Then finally, something called confidence based assessments. Here you can get the learner, the employee to really understand and how confident they are in their knowledge.

There’s some really interesting things that occur that employee retain information further and turn it into action. At the same time, there has been pretty dramatic advances in technology as we all know over the last 10 years, things like cloud based technology, HTML5, web, I would argue even 3.0 at this point, social networks, a mobile, everything, smart phones, video, you name it. We now have a situation at work where employees almost expect an experience that is very similar when it comes to acquiring knowledge and information as they would have at home. It’s easily accessible, it’s in multiform, it is relevant and specific to what they need to know and technology has enabled all of that for employees today.

All of these things together have really led to the rise of microlearning as a key approach when you’re thinking about corporate training and getting employees to change behavior in ways that you need them to achieve the business outcomes. It really started to enter into safety awareness program only in recent years, like quite literally five or six years ago. We have had a history, over decades actually, of fire hosing employees with lots of content in person, in classroom situations, giving them one size fits all information that really doesn’t get repeated, doesn’t get measured in any way and we might test them at the end of that in classroom session and hope that if they pass the test, they turn it into action on the job.

That’s really been going on for decades and what we know now is it’s incredibly effective at knowledge transfer and then operationalizing it on the job. That helped turned into within the last 20, 30 years additional tools like posters, wallet cards, things that were quick reference material that the employee could have in a pocket to a really, really refer to you and if these were basic things, compliance, basic safety knowledge that really did try to help in the moment of need, but again not comprehensive. That evolved in the early 2000s as technology advanced into online tools, more PowerPoint presentations or learning management solutions that allowed employees to be trained in a computer based setting, but quite honestly not much more evolved than a classroom. Typically, one time with no reinforcement and one side fits all content and no after the fact measurement.

Microlearning just in the last five or six years has really brought many of the problems are these training modalities. It’s every day, it’s repetitive, it can be individualized and personalized to the learner, and really get quite surgical on the knowledge that is required for the employee change and culture shifts. So, why can microlearning help you shape your thinking culture? Microlearning does create a daily safety conversation because it happens every day. This provides daily reminder of their own safety and as a result of that we can quickly become a topic of conversation, we’ve seen that many times over.

There are employees who really have never ever spoken about safety previously ostensibly asking each, “Do you understand that, did you get this, have you seen that?” Because it’s caused questions, additional questions about knowledge. Third it’s building competition and rewards around gaining knowledge into a microlearning experience. It helps to generate even more dialogue and it often justifies fun and adventure but really the conversation is rooted safety, the topic that you want them to be talking about. The more employees think about this and manage to talk about safety, the more they are open to every option and integrate that into your culture. Microlearning also involves managers and enables mangers to stay on top of their key safety knowledge and performance. Then this turns into the granular level to see how every employee individual is doing.

It really provides the system start with clean and individual based data so leaders can identify where knowledge gap can exist and provide extra coach where necessary. The next thing is microlearning makes it personal. Whether it’s in safety meetings or mandatory training, typical safety measures tell employees what’s expected, but that doesn’t do much to get them engaged in safety. Each employee is going to be different in their understanding of safety measures and they all feel differently about your safety programs.

You can achieve much better buy in with microlearning because it adapts to each employee and their current knowledge by identifying what they need to know, what they already do well and what they need to do differently. It also provides information that’s personally relevant for each of them so this way they can stay engaged by seeing a direct connection between what they do every day and how it impacts the business. Challenges, it challenges each employee’s understanding of just how correct they are and what they know, and so it finds dangerous misinformation and job behaviors that need correcting. Microlearning can be very rewarding, so to truly buy into a safety culture, your employees feel part of it and really encouraged to contribute. This means creating an environment where employees are motivated to provide input, where their feedback is acknowledged, and where they’re rewarded for doing the right thing.

Microlearning is the perfect approach for creating a proactive learning environments because it gives employees the ability to contribute valuable, relevant content. If you allow them to do that, it can allow employees to review and rate each other’s contribution so again, that desire that we talked about earlier where employees love to collaborate and share can be enabled. It empowers employees to search and find the right information exactly at that point of need when they need it, and can leverage game mechanics that mean that you could give reward back to employees, engage them in the fun of learning which to them actually feels like an additional reward. Microlearning also make safety a habit, for safety to stay top of mind and have high profile, it really has to become habitual where the right actions are rooted in the subconscious, and this is where that brain science comes in.

The first few times when we learn how to do something, our conscious mind is active throughout the entire process, but once the behavior is carried out successfully over and over, kind of like remembering to buckle up your seat belt before you go driving in your car, the brain puts it on autopilot and has it all done so in a proactive culture of safety, employees don’t stop to analyze whether they have to take safety measures, they just simply do it automatically. The power of microlearning is that it can leverage that brain science I mentioned, so those principles of spaced repetition and retrieval practice, providing targeted bytes of information over and over again until that knowledge is ingrained and those behaviors become habit.

Microlearning makes it sustainable, the recent benefit of a world class safety culture are simply undeniable, but effectively ingraining safety best practices in every action of each employee is a journey, not a destination. And so to make it stick, we’ll have to cultivate it continuously, like on a daily basis. World class safety standards are not only achievable, but sustainable with this powerful strategy, microlearning can help you keep the conversation going perpetually. So, what are principles that really hopefully outlined for you the benefit of bringing microlearning and that short quick experience into your environment and I’m now gonna turn to micro learning in action and give you a description of certain organizations that have very effectively employed microlearning techniques in their environment.

The first one is Walmart Logistics. Walmart, for those of you who don’t know, has in the United States, about 150 distribution centers that employ about 90,000 associates and Walmart has always had a very strong culture of safety, but they are constantly looking to move the needle and make it better. They were one of the first logistic securities or organizations to launch a microlearning approach in their distribution centers in 2012, which was intended to drive safety even more and you can see the results at the bottom of the screen here. In the five, five and a half years that they took a microlearning approach, they continued to see greater than 91% voluntary participation in those distribution centers.

Knowledge growth on average across all topics has grown 15%. Some have been much greater, some been less growth, but on average 15% which is a pretty great results and even better, they saw in the first six months where they did a test of a facility, a 54% reduction of OSHA recordable medical accidents and injuries in those facilities. The goal had been 5% and the result was incredibly better than that and therefore used microlearning across all facilities. The interesting thing is that you might ask, where did they … in those facilities because they are desk based workers, where did they provide points of access to those employees.

Somebody, one of the general managers in one of the locations, came up with a brilliant idea and it was that the employees need to charge a battery in a belt device at least once a shift and so what they did was they put a kiosk beside the battery charging station and as the employee was waiting three or four minutes to charge the battery, they could do their training instead of just standing around waiting for the battery to charge. So provided a really amazing point of access for all employees that gave them something to do that was very relevant and specific to what they needed to know and continue to promote a culture of safety.

What Walmart has also done is move the needle even further, in addition to training employees using the microlearning approach, they went one step beyond and began to capture behavior observation that were randomly assigned to people in those distribution centers where they look at what somebody is doing that involves safety procedure. For example, putting up a ladder, driving a forklift, things like that, and they have these assigned employees checking whether or not the person being observed is doing the behavior appropriately, so is it correct or incorrect. That data is then married with the learning data, what people know or don’t know in those safety topic areas and where the behaviors are poor and the knowledge is core, the algorithm automatically pushes the right information in the right safety topic through the employees to self heal knowledge.

What Walmart is doing today is collecting one million observations a month, of behavior, and then using that to try to do that. So a million observations a month his very highly statistically correlated in terms of results so that the algorithm can in fact repair the information that the employees need to know. The next example I want to give you is Merck. Many of you will recognize Merck as a very large global company and just like Walmart, despite having a very robust safety program, they also wanted to take it to the next level. What they wanted to do across 52 global facilities, about 24,000 employees in 10 different languages, they wanted to really make sure they had a consistent safety message, and were driving a consistent safety culture across the organization.

Just like Walmart, they launched a microlearning program to drive that proactive culture of safety and you see the results of the bottom of this slide. Again, greater than 80% voluntary participation, 13% knowledge growth across their safety topics, unfortunately we can’t disclose the business outcomes that it resulted, but as you seen here, they had decreases in their recordable incident rate and lots of time injuries frequency. I can tell you that in both of those areas, those businesses have been very, very specific and very significant.

The example that I want to give you is At Home. At Home, for those of you who don’t know, is a specialty retailer in the United States and At Home basically did not have any other way to train employees and were completely shifting their culture internally. They implemented a microlearning approach across 150 stores and they’re growing rapidly, to 3,000 associates and they’ve really driven a very dramatic cultural shift across their entire organization. They have also seen 94% voluntary participation, a 90% decrease in new employee onboarding time. They can do it very, very rapidly now and know specifically what each new employee knows and doesn’t know and they’ve seen a dramatic drop in safety incidents, 36%, and interestingly 78% of associates completed their compliance in two weeks, something that used to take them months in fact to achieve.

So, dramatic reduction in the activity that they needed to do in order to drive knowledge and information around safety. Getting to the end there, I just wanted to summarize by saying that there is a learning model that we employ that incorporates all of the concepts that I just spoke about. The Axonify platform incorporates the brain science principles I reviewed very, very quickly and does them in a way that drives rapid knowledge and retention and behavior change in the employee without the employee really even realizing that what they’re doing is rooted in the way the brain best works to remember information.

Instead what they feel and know is that they’re learning quickly, it’s very personalized to them and it’s effective, so that’s where the adaptive piece comes in. Every single learning moment is different for every employee based on their previous performance and so each individual gets knowledge relevant to them to help close very individual knowledge gaps and elevate everyone’s knowledge to a standard, consistent level as fast as humanly possible. Through repetition and the brain plan principles, it builds a very sustainable knowledge base and results in that behavior change.

Then finally, how do you make it fun, engaging, something that learners want to do and volunteer to do every single day or every single shift? Well, the way to do that is gamification, so by employing lots of game mechanics, including casual gameplay, rewards, competitions, leaderboard, there are lots of different ways, we happen to have about 20, that are highly effective at engaging more workers in wanting to have a learning experience every single day. When you combine all of these principles together, you can create a very effective short, three to five minutes engaging experience that actually moves the needle on your business outcomes and helps to ingrain that culture of safety in your organization so that you get employees who are top performers, doing the right things, achieving what you need them to achieve, and in many cases, reducing the level of safety incident, improving the culture of safety.

If you’d like to learn more, you are more than welcome to go onto our website. We have lots of resources there that will give you the fundamentals of microlearning and really give you a bit of a roadmap for how you embark on this journey, how do you go from in person or written material or classroom based sessions to having that ongoing sustainable microlearning culture that really drives what you’re looking to do in the business? I encourage you to go on with that, we are happy to end the session, so I turn it back over to Dave.


Dave Blanchard:

Okay, thank you so much, Carol. Thanks for that great presentation too. This would be the time when anybody has questions, go ahead and type them into the console and then make sure that you hit the submit button and we will get to as many questions as time will allow. The first question, and maybe you touched on this a little bit already, Carol, but it seems a common question, actually kind of touches on some of my own experiences. In a previous life I was a school teacher myself, so are there any types of employees just generally speaking who don’t do well with microlearning, are there some types who that approach just doesn’t seem to be working?


Carol Leaman:

Well, I can honestly say that we have not encountered one yet. It is the case that organizations are often skeptical I would say, that we’ve got a group of employees who’ve been on the job in the plant, in the facility for 30 plus years. There is no way they are going to get on a mobile device or engage in daily learning in this way and what I can tell you is that when presented with how it’s done, how much fun it is, how it is very personal and relevant and really doesn’t take them away, I mean, who likes to sit in a classroom for days or weeks to learn stuff?

I don’t care what age you are or what demographic you come from, nobody enjoys that experience. microlearning, while people may be skeptical about it, as soon as they see how it’s done, all employees look at it and go, wow, that’s kind of cool and I can do it whenever I want to and I can see how I’m doing and I can see how others are doing. Suddenly, it becomes a very desirable experience to have. We see that time and time again, despite what is sometimes initial skepticism.


Dave Blanchard:

That’s good to know. Let me pull out another question here and try to rephrase it a little bit. In terms of the gamification strategies, to what extent … I’m trying to rephrase the question here, to what extent do managers have to take some personal approach to engaging their employees will, I guess the question, is there a state where the presenter is thought to be just giving again just for busy work’s sake? In other words, do employees view this as real learning as opposed to we’re having fun, or is it the kind of more of a subtle thing they’re learning, not even realizing that they’re learning?


Carol Leaman: 

Yeah, that’s a great question. The game mechanics are there to … actually there is brain science behind the game mechanics also. When an employee’s … So think about this, when an employee or if you play games just in your personal time, quick short fun games, what it does is it puts the brain in a flow state so that you’re not actually thinking about all the other distractions around you. You’re focused on what’s going on in the game, whether it’s Candy Crush or Angry Birds or scenario based games, you’re very focused on the game. What happens is when the learning is embedded in that experience, your brain becomes hyper-focused on that key learning point that explodes from the game. So the game is there to provide brain freeing sorts of activities that allow learning to get rooted even deeper, but it’s not the learning in and end of itself, it’s there as an engagement tool and in fact you don’t even have to employ the casual games.

There are lots of game mechanics that you can choose from depending on your environment and what you think would be appealing to your learners and what we know is this because we apply machine learning to all of the data we collect, if you think that gamification doesn’t work to engage learners, I can tell you that’s not the case and different game mechanics do appeal to different types of employee needs? For example, what we know is in the desk course work environment, offering tangible rewards that employees can build up learning points to start to use those points to bid on is a massively popular game mechanic. So short little or small little reward, it could be $5 gift cards, are highly, highly effective at getting employees to get on and do some learning every day. Game mechanics doesn’t mean you need to allow employees to play scenario based games where they are a character or an avatar moving through a scenario. There’s lots of different mechanics that can be employed and they are highly effective at getting the employee to do what you want them to do, which is learn something.


Dave Blanchard: 

Okay, great. That’s good to know. I wish we had stuff like that when I was coming up into the industry.


Carol Leaman:

Me too.


Dave Blanchard: 

Here’s a question, kind of gets into the mechanics of microlearning and it’s just a bunch of little quick questions. Like how often should employees exposed to microlearning, should they do it at the same time every day, should it be a kind of a systematic thing like every, every day at 9:00, all the employees should do it or should they be allowed to do it at their own pace, how long a period of time during each session should they be spending on it, what are the basic mechanics I guess?


Carol Leaman: 

We prescribe that you need to make it available every single day whenever your employee has three to five minutes, and let them choose when that is. It’s part of making it part of their daily workflow when it’s convenient and easy for them to take those few minutes to do that micro learning moment so it doesn’t have to be at the same time every day. What we see in fact are a lot of organizations to typically will say, “You don’t have to do this outside of working hours, please do it inside of working hours on a break or otherwise,” and in fact, we have all the data to settle that many employees do it in their spare time because they want to.

They want to stay at the top of the leaderboard, they want to get those few extra points to bid on rewards, they want to be safer at work, so they want to know more. The trick is making it easily accessible anytime, anywhere the employee has three to five minutes a day and you don’t want to go longer than that. It’s not effective to convey more than four to five new pieces of information in a learning session, the brain simply won’t remember it. So making it short, four to five points anytime, anywhere is critical.


Dave Blanchard:

Here’s another sort of mechanical question or maybe it’s a marketing question really. The learning platforms, what are the number of choices? Are you saying it’s customizable so for a construction company would be different than from a retail company or from a manufacturing company and the specifics of the job itself, do they get that granular with, with the learning modules?


Carol Leaman: 

Absolutely they do. In terms of choices, I can speak for our platform, you basically have a template and you make all the choices you want about which games you want them to play, rewards, all of those sorts of things. However, the content itself is what you believe is most important for your employees to know. We prescribe a microlearning approach where we teach you very quickly how to take your existing content and turn it into quick little mini modules that are highly effective. So whether things like ladder safety or forklift safety are important for your organization but not for another organization, you determine what your business priorities are and create content out of that using a microlearning approach that we prescribe, very quick and easy to do.

There are some principles around how to do it really effectively, but it suits any kind of content. Really it comes down to what are the things you need people to change behavior around? Start with those priorities in terms of topic areas and then use the methodology to turn what you’ve got currently into those microlearning module.


Dave Blanchard: 

Okay, I want to just remind everybody that we’ve got a ton of questions coming in right now, but we will answer as many as we can. All questions that we don’t get a chance to answer today, we’re going to forward those on to Carol and she and her team will be able to follow up offline with you if you’ve got a question we don’t get to. So here’s a new question, how do you get management to actually do this throughout the company rather than just the EHS department? That’s a good question, they say it is everyone, but in reality they feel it’s not their problem or responsibility.


Carol Leaman: 

One of the things that microlearning really has allowed in organizations is to provide the data to prove that knowledge and information in the hands of anybody is critically important to driving business outcomes. So we’ve got, and we do help many clients with this, lots of reference cases where we can show, for example, safety as one application. We can tell you specifically which topic areas, what level of participation, things like that, which locations you’ve actually got issues with because of lack of knowledge. And when you show a C level person the kind of data that can tie knowledge to a dollar value that hits the income statement in your business, then that gets the attention of managers and then the manager think, where else could we be using this? Could we get salespeople to sell more in our business, could we get leaders to exhibit a better leadership skills, could we do a whole variety of things with knowledge and information that ends up impacting our business results?

And the bottom line is, yes. It all starts with data and oftentimes the easiest things to prove from a financial outcome perspective are things like reduction of safety incidents. It’s a great first application in an organization and then often what we see is expansion into other parts of the organization were other kinds of knowledge and behaviors do in fact impact business outcomes and C suite executives always want to do better when it comes to the financial result.


Dave Blanchard: 

Great. Thanks Carol. I want to kind of combine a few questions because they’re all kind of getting at the same basic question is, a lot of curiosity to know if you could give an example or two of some microlearning platforms and microlearning products and examples and where can somebody go to see an example of what these really look like?


Carol Leaman: 

I would say the best example is Axonify, our software platform. We are the only one that combines all of these elements; gamification, brain based learning, micro learning, personalization and adaptive, measurement of knowledge tied to business outcomes, predicting your business outcome. We have on our website, a quick product tour where you can see the product in action, but if you go on the website, just fill out a quick contact us form. Somebody will be happy to connect with you, quickly give you a demo that is relevant to whatever you’re trying to achieve in your particular situation, so more than happy to do that.


Dave Blanchard: 

Is language a barrier for microlearning?


Carol Leaman:

It is not. We as an example, deliver in 95 countries, 40 different languages, we add languages all the time so you can very quickly … basically the employee selects which language they want to receive their training in and it just happens automatically. So language should never be a barrier to learning and it certainly isn’t with us.


Dave Blanchard: 

Another kind of a technical question in terms of how the program works, how do companies capture micro learning sessions? Safety professionals have to prove the training that occurred, for that matter is it considered training in the eyes of OSHA? That’s an interesting question.


Carol Leaman: 

Yeah, that’s a great question and the only way you can capture it, you know, effectively is to use a software platform to be honest, because the moments are so frequent, you need a tool to do it. Here’s an interesting story for you as far as OSHA and recording those, we have a client who had a catastrophic safety incident occur in one of their locations. The employee did something wrong, it resulted in a catastrophic medical injury, and the organization was subject to a multimillion dollar lawsuit as a result with the employee claiming that they had never been trained to do this particular procedure properly. So of course OSHA came in and would have done what they’ve done previously, which is fine the organization a significant amount of money, but the VP of safety had data from the platform to show that individual employee had done microlearning training in that topic area multiple times in the previous year and had answered all of the questions and graduated topics correctly.

There was an audit trail right down to the level of every single procedure and factor involved in the procedure where the employee had demonstrated competency in it more than once. The result of that was the OSHA fine went away because it was an audit trail proving training not just to a group of people, but to that specific individual and in addition to that, the lawsuit was largely mitigated because the claim that he had not been trained with proven false, so that’s what’s possible. Yeah, [crosstalk 00:56:14].


Dave Blanchard: 

Thanks, that is a good example. Let me get to one or two more questions. This is probably a common question that everybody’s got, how do I start to introduce microlearning to my organization? What would be the first steps that a company would want to take?


Carol Leaman:

Well, it really, to be honest, needs a collective agreement among those that are in the training world or doing training, that they need to shift from the old way, which is often long, boring one time training sessions to ongoing short bites of information and starting with thinking about business priorities. Sometimes it feels very overwhelming, we train on a million different things and people need to know everything. Really the key is getting alignment that we really need to change the way we’re doing things that gets our business results. What are our top three business priorities that we can impact? Start with that, start with short bits of information related to those three business priorities.

What are the things you need to change behavior around, what do you need people to know to change that behavior? Now, what are the key pieces of information that we therefore need to deliver? Don’t think about it as in I’ve got 500 topics and I need to create all this content all at once and chunk it all down. Prioritize, start with the biggest thing and then just continuously work your way and chip away at it, that’s the best way to go about it, but it does require a mind shift and buy in and you get that when you do start to talk about data and business results.


Dave Blanchard: 

Okay, another question which might also be a frequently asked one, should I personalize microlearning for each of my plants and the person asking it had many plants, but even if you just have a handful, does it need to be personalized … I should ask a different way, can it be personalized and if so, to what extent should a company to think about, you know, customizing and personalizing it for each of their different locations?


Carol Leaman:

Yeah, let me give you a real example of how this is done. In order to personalize effectively where you have a large worker population, you absolutely need to use technology. It’s almost impossible to do it … in fact, I would suggest it is impossible to do it without technology. Let me describe to you what happens in the practical reality, if you’ve got workers, let’s just say 100 doing the same job in different locations, so you’ve got 10 in 10 different locations, but they’re all doing the same job and then you’ve got a variety of other people doing again, different jobs in various locations, you set up your microlearning content specific to the job and then you just drag and drop job titles and the people associated with them into those programs. And what happens is this, every single day than an employee goes on and does their training, depending on how successful they are with that training, what they see the next day instantly adapts to that individual’s level of success from the day before.

If I’m in a machine shop doing a particular thing on a machine and I, for whatever reason, simply don’t understand how to operate that machine effectively and I keep getting my training content wrong, it’s going to continuously repeat to me the information until I demonstrate that I’ve gotten it versus somebody doing exactly the same job in a different location who understands the material, is answering questions correctly. They are going to move through topic areas much more rapidly than me, so every single day the algorithm adapts to each individual’s level of knowledge in topic areas that are relevant for their job. As you simply organize your groups based on job titles, locations, many, many factors that mean it is a very personalized and relevant experience to each individual.


Dave Blanchard: 

Great, and looking at the clock, I think we’ve just run out of time, we’re at the top of the hour so let me wrap it up here. I’d like to first of all thank our presenter, Carol Leaman, and our sponsor Axonify, thank you to you the audience, you had a lot of great questions and we got to many of them, but many of them we did not get a chance to, so I’m going to make sure that all those questions are forwarded to Carol and she’ll be able to follow up with you later. As a reminder, if you registered as a group for this Webinar, please add the names and emails of all in attendance on the exit survey. On behalf of EHSToday, I’m Dave Blanchard, have a great day everybody.