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One of my favorite memes about COVID-19 is the one that says, “It’s Blursday, the Fortyteenth of Augtember.” In our new COVID reality, Blursday seems to be the typical day for talking about safety and training strategy — we’ve heard from a few fleets struggling to keep up with ever-changing recommendations while also doing the normal fleet training. But we’ve heard of many others actually thriving.

 

COVID Has Forced Training Priorities to Change

With COVID, training teams have been forced to shift priorities on a dime (and use that dime as their budget, too!). As one fleet manager told me, “We are so focused on social distancing, we’ve forgotten about following distance.” And when your safety culture gets off track or disappears — even for a good reason like COVID — it leads to increased crashes, injuries, and liability.

So how do you stay focused when it seems we’re going to be living with this new COVID reality for a while? We’ve heard from lots of companies who are applying the lessons from the past five months:

  • What temporary measures have worked that we should make permanent?
  • What has not worked and needs to be re-thought?
  • What important training do we need to bring back into focus?

In other words, what are you going to keep, and what are you going to get rid of? And how will you extend your training success beyond the age of COVID?

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New Safety Tactics to Keep

COVID-19 made it difficult for fleets of any size to carry out the minimum training requirements. Worse, many companies found themselves unable to meet face-to-face with employees and were caught flat-footed without online training.

We’ve seen many of those companies turn to ITI to embrace the power of online training. Many of them, honestly, didn’t want to give up the classroom pulpit. They assumed (wrongly) that online training was expensive. They liked meeting employees and creating a connection.

 

Online Training Improves In-Person Training

When COVID forced them to change, they found they were still able to meet employees. And by using online training as a pre-requisite beforehand, they could actually deliver better in-person training. Instead of focusing on super-basic skills and repetitive HR work, in-person training was able to focus on practical skills, job specifics, and real-world tips. And they were able to shorten their exposure to one another.

Like most safety and training groups, you’re used to making do with the bare minimum. Online training has minimal costs and delivers maximum results.

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Employee and Driver Training for COVID

Let’s be clear: COVID training is important. In talking to clients and prospects, these are the challenges they say they’re facing.

  • What is your company's new policy for coming back to work? Who can come back? When?
  • What are the new guidelines set forth from the powers-that-be outlining the company policy for drivers, while in the cab, during customer interactions, or in the office?
  • How will you conduct meetings? Will they be virtual or face-to-face? How often?
  • What new operating procedures do your employees need to follow daily? Hourly? At each location or stop? With each new customer? And have you given them the time to follow those new tasks, or are their productivity metrics the same as ever?
  • How do you protect your people and equipment investments with training?
  • How are you now scheduling and conducting safety training lessons?
  • What training is available for remedial training? And how do you trigger remedial training?
  • Have you budgeted for the additional safety training, new hire onboarding, or equipment?
  • How will you schedule and assign training? How will you make sure your drivers demonstrate the correct driving behaviors?

ITI offers multiple COVID courses that can help address these challenges. All are available for free via YouTube if you don’t have an LMS. But if you have Sentix, all can be assigned, tracked, and records of completion and mastery kept. Record-keeping is critical to reduce liability.

 

Important Training to Bring Back into Focus

There may be a pandemic, but you still have ordinary job-related risks to deal with, especially with the busy winter season upon us. One in four people who drive for work will be in a crash this year. Most on-the-job injuries happen when the motor isn’t running. Parking lots account for 3x more crashes than all other moving crashes. Your training needs to play to the odds.

 

Will Your Cultural Shifts Will Last Beyond COVID?

We asked many of our colleagues, “What is your plan after COVID?” Some people feel paralyzed, but others feel invigorated.

There are big cultural shifts happening, and there’s a lot of “new normal.” As a safety and training officer, this is your moment. Today is not the day to get pushed aside and merely “check the box.” There’s very little “business as usual,” so there is opportunity for change.

Training managers tell us their companies are more interested than ever in exploring new ways of operating and learning. Leaders can ask open-hearted questions, show more empathy, and champion exploration. These will lead to success that lasts beyond COVID.

Now is the time when great companies step up to protect their employees and train them how to do their jobs safely. And when the economy does rev back up again, your company will have built not just a safety culture, but a culture that embraces training.

 

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