4 Keys to Creating an Effective Online Orientation

08 June 2018

You don’t get a second chance at a first impression which is why companies put a lot of effort into getting their online orientation right. They are the first opportunity you have to educate your workers on your company practices, values, culture, as well as to include vital safety information. An online orientation is especially important where there is a reliance on temporary workers, such as in heavy industry i.e. construction, oil and gas, mining and energy generation. These worksites contain many hazards which potentially put workers at risk of injury so having orientations that cover all the correct safety procedures is key to keeping your workforce safe.

The traditional way of managing contractors was using spreadsheets and a manual paper-based process. Orientations were done using on-site presentations usually conducted by a site manager. An online system makes it easier to customize your online orientation and ensure that workers are properly trained. However, designing the right course for your workers is one of the most important steps in managing your contractors and getting it right keeps your workers safe and saves you money.

For example, injuries that caused construction workers to miss six days of work or more cost $51.1 billion in workers’ compensation alone in 2010, according to research from the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety. This doesn’t even factor in the loss of productivity resulting from these injuries. Keep your workers safe and incorporate these four steps into your online orientation:

4 Keys Worker on Tablet

1) Emphasize Safety Culture in an Online Orientation

Orientations are not just about informing an individual worker about what they should and should not do. It is about stressing the power of the collective. Organizational safety culture can have a massive impact on safety outcomes so long as every worker buys into the same culture. It should be the goal of management to encourage a safety culture made up of accountability, transparency, and responsibility throughout a workforce. The safety culture should be positive, making clear there is a strong commitment to safety and that workers are rewarded for being active parts of this culture.

  • There should be easy lines of communication between all workers and management.
  • Clear reporting procedures in the event of an accident or near-miss.
  • Safety committees are a great way to get workers engaged with safety and encourage the reporting of hazards.
  • It should be made clear that there is no tradeoff between production and safety.
  • A fair discipline program is in place.
  • Their employment is conditional on their commitment to safety. It is not an afterthought but rather a central part of the job.

4 Keys to Orientations Manager

2) Understand Your Business In Detail

The goal of any online orientation is to give your worker the information they need to do their job productively and to stay safe on-site. Workers should leave their orientation with a thorough understanding of how the business operates, familiar with their surroundings. A good online orientation should ease the anxiety that is common to a new hire. However, to give a new hire a good understanding of your business, you need to be certain that you have an in-depth knowledge of your own business so you can design the perfect orientation. When designing an online orientation, bring in all relevant stakeholders together. It’s so important that you get input from on-site workers who are on the frontline every day and who may have a better understanding of the hazards that exist on-site.

What kind of thing should be included in an orientation:

  • Workplace hazardous substances and dangerous goods
  • Working in confined spaces
  • Lock out/tag out
  • Housekeeping
  • Material handling and manual handling
  • Working at heights, mobile
  • Slips, trips & falls
  • Hazardous substances and chemical awareness.

You should involve on-site workers to make your orientations more rich and detailed but also get their buy-in and to make implementation of new orientations as seamless as possible. To improve the implementation process, involve as many stakeholders as you can; this could mean instructors, IT specialists, supervisors, and the marketing and finance departments. The aim is to have a dialog rather than a one-way communication where you tell them, ‘This is how it’s going to be’. The benefits of having two-way communication are that you get a wealth of useful input and make stakeholders feel like their input is valuable. This helps both in the design and implementation phase of your orientations.

4 Keys Industrial Manager

3) Create Engaging Content

The desired outcome of your orientation is clear: Preparing your contractors to be safe and productive members of your workforce. With this in mind, you need to include information on the correct safety and general working practices to follow, as well as specific information relating to a site location and a worker’s role. However, after putting together what you want to include, it is vital that your workers actually engage with the material. Everyone has a different style of learning. Some learn better from reading, some from listening and others find a visual style to be most effective. It’s important to design an online orientation that is effective for every kind of learner.

Online platforms are easily customizable and allow you to include a mix of audiovisual material so that you can be sure that you are engaging your learners. You should look to constantly improve your orientations. One great way to do this is to listen to your workers who have already completed their training, get their feedback and use it constructively to further improve your orientations. Here are some tips to help make your online orientation content more engaging:

  • Include videos that are filmed on-site
  • Get current workers to record some videos
  • Include quizzes throughout the course to ensure there is engagement.
  • Make your content site-specific as much as possible
  • Create content that is accessible to workers of different languages, different learning styles, and varying literacy skills

4) Use an Online Contractor Management System

Companies are generally shifting their orientations from the traditional paper-based system to digital forms of contractor management. Such a move can come with some initial challenges but the reasons for making a change are simple. By shifting online, companies are able to combine separate analog process into a single comprehensive, online system. Using an online contractor management platform allows an employer to manage worker training, their documents, their behavior on-site and whether they should be allowed access to the worksite.

GoContractor’s online contractor management system is the ideal solution for management looking for a powerful, yet flexible way to manage temporary workers. GoContractor provides a customizable platform that makes it easy to create courses. The Identity Capture feature takes pictures of a worker while they are taking their orientation, verifying that the worker who turns up on site is the same as the one who took the orientation. Companies can also run courses external to the platform and have it recorded within the GoContractor system. GoContractor aims to make managing your contractors, training them, and achieving compliance as simple and as cost-effective as possible.

Jenny Snook
Jenny Snook

Jenny Snook is content executive at GoContractor with the job of researching the latest health and safety trends in the heavy industry. Her past-experience includes the research of large museum collections such as the Louth County Museum, many from the industrial age.

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