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Employee training: Ensuring your program is accessible to all employees

Becky Rodriguez for Progressive Dairy Published on 14 July 2020

An employee training program is a vital piece of any successful dairy. Typically, employees are trained when they first start their jobs, then they receive continuous training throughout their employment. Having a solid employee training program will help ensure uniform completion of tasks, will assist in maintaining high-quality standards and is crucial to keeping your employees (and cows) safe.

While it is important to have a good training program, you must also consider how that program is being delivered to the employees. You can have the best program in the industry, but it will not do you any good if it’s not being delivered in a way that is accessible to each employee.

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First, it is important to develop a quality training program. Develop a new hire training program that is followed closely every time a new employee starts on the farm. This is your best bet in teaching employees from the start your expectations and how to complete their tasks in the safest and most efficient way possible. Then, a continuous training program should be implemented to reinforce training on specific job duties as well as covering various topics such as safety, operating machinery and stockmanship.

When creating and implementing a training program, it is important to ensure your program is accessible to all of your employees. What do I mean by accessible? Every person learns in a unique way. A training program works if employees can connect with the information being presented and walk away with a complete understanding of the concepts. There are four main ways of learning: visual, auditory, reading/writing and hands-on. Most training programs cover the visual and auditory categories. Typically, there is either a presenter or a video that employees both listen to and watch. When creating training presentations, we always include pictures and videos to help engage the employees.

The two categories that require a little more homework are reading/writing and hands-on learners. Examples for reading/writing learners would be to create a worksheet or quiz employees can complete during (or after) the presentation. It has been proven that we absorb information better if we write it down. It’s also very helpful to include hands-on activities. These can be included by going out and practicing the concepts in real life. For example, if you are training on skid-steer safety, the hands-on portion of the training could be setting up a skills course employees complete to demonstrate their ability to operate the skid-steer safely.

Additionally, if you have employees whose native language is not English, provide the training in their native language. When training employees, you want them to be able to absorb the information completely and to fully understand the concepts being taught. It is not uncommon for entry-level employees, particularly immigrant employees, to have low education levels. In some cases, this may mean these employees just need more help with the training process. Additionally, since many new employees are eager to please, they may nod their head to indicate “yes” they understand, but in reality, they are still a bit unclear. If you provide more than one way to take in the concepts, you create a greater chance of full understanding. It is important that the person giving the training understands the importance of presenting the information in various ways and ensures that each employee is comfortable and confident with the information being presented.

By creating a well-rounded training program that is accessible to every employee, you are well on your way to creating a safe and efficient workforce. Be sure to follow your training program, schedule regular training meetings, and put the training concepts into practice to take learning from the conference room into the workplace.  end mark

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Becky Rodriguez is an operations manager at AgriStaff USA. Email Becky Rodriguez.

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