September 15, 2022
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The Future of Occupational Health & Safety Training

Why microlearning should be the new standard for workplace training
Gemma Bowkis

Reminiscing on my time at school, I can empathize with teachers struggling to keep students engaged for a full day of learning. Absorbing lots of new information was difficult — even at a young age when the brain is much more malleable — because the human brain is simply not wired to maintain focus for hours on end. And as people grow older, our ability to retain information is reduced to increasingly shorter periods of time, with studies showing that the average adult human is only able to concentrate on a task for around 15 to 20 minutes.

To add to this biological hurdle, the modern workplace presents many challenges and distractions of its own. According to a 2018 Nielsen Total Audience Report, American adults spend over 11 hours per day at a screen. At the same time, corporate trainers are asking employees to make time in their already busy schedules for training, and are trying to grab workers' attention long enough to educate them and ensure the information sticks. 

But when the training in question is as crucial as the safety of workers, ensuring that information is absorbed really can mean the difference between life and death.

So why are organizations still conducting long, tedious instructor-led classroom training sessions with superfluous material, large documents, and packed PowerPoint presentations? 

With modern technology and a better understanding of how the brain engages with information, training doesn’t have to be a chore. Organizations can create microlearning training programs that are easily digestible, as well as efficient, enjoyable, and engaging.

Time for Change

Unprecedented rates of staff turnover, coined “the Great Resignation,” and the continued strain of the pandemic mean that organizations are having to conduct onboarding and upskill current staff far more frequently than ever before. When considering industries such as manufacturing, agriculture, and construction, it is even more crucial that employees are kept up to speed with training to ensure the continuity of operations and the safety of workers. Traditional approaches to training simply can not fulfill these needs today, but we still speak to vast amounts of organizations that have yet to implement more effective and appropriate methods.

While traditional employee training programs still have value in some areas, they’re often outdated and not tailored to today’s workforce's needs and wants. Here are three key drawbacks of traditional training methods to consider: 


In a world where an employee's attention is being pulled in multiple different directions, it can sometimes be difficult to even find a spare 30 minutes. So when an employee is asked to find time to complete a 3-hour long online training course on an updated OSHA regulation, it can understandably seem like an impossible task. This can lead to busy workers putting off the course, or rushing through it – which in turn creates a knowledge gap, full of risk.


Classroom-based training programs are still common practice in many organizations today. This often takes place over one or more days and involves hiring a qualified instructor to lead the sessions, printing thousands of pages of course materials, and paying for venues, travel, and catering. So as the need for training sessions becomes increasingly frequent, the cost of this type of training very quickly adds up.

We also see training responsibilities placed on more experienced employees. For example, if a new employee begins work on a warehouse floor, there is a vast amount of machinery, equipment and warehouse safety procedures that they must learn, and an experienced employee may be required to take time away from their regular responsibilities to teach them. Since time is money in every business, this also makes for a very costly way of training staff.


Traditional approaches to training can be most problematic when you look at how effective they are in ensuring the learner can digest and retain the new information. German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, discovered the “The Forgetting Curve” with his pioneering experimental studies of memory in the late 19th Century — finding that if new information isn’t applied, we’ll forget about 75% of it after just six days. When an employee takes a long and unengaging one-time course, these are often not repeated and learning materials are difficult, if not impossible, to access once the course is complete. So if the training subject matter isn’t something that is regularly applied or experienced in day-to-day work, critical information can be easily forgotten.

For example, in a workplace that manages hazardous materials, SDS libraries and emergency response plans can be extremely wide-ranging and complex — to digest and retain that information in one long training course would be next to impossible and a hazardous chemical incident is not something that most would often be faced with in day-to-day work. But if an emergency did occur, it is critical that the emergency response is handled swiftly and effectively, so it is imperative that all employees have comprehensive training that is available to review at all times.

What is Microlearning?

So how can training content be reframed to fit the needs of organizations and employees today? Microlearning delivers information to learners in short and concise modules that often take no longer than 10 minutes to complete. Each module has a specific learning objective with precise, measurable goals and is commonly delivered in ways that are engaging, interactive and easily accessible. Breaking down information into small, ultra-focused, bitesize chunks makes it a lot easier for employees to digest, remember, and above all, helps make training simple and fun. 

Let’s take a closer look at the top 5 benefits of microlearning:

1. Less information at one time 

The way we consume information has changed and our exposure to short, accessible forms of content has shrunk our collective attention span. Short and fast bursts of information are now part of everyday lives — from watching a 30-second video on social media, to receiving breaking news bulletins as they happen, to finding answers to questions immediately on Google, to sending instant messages (the list goes on!) — people still have the desire to learn new information, we’re just digesting it in new ways and businesses should take advantage of this. Especially in a workplace setting, where long periods of lecture or lengthy reading are hard to accomplish and can feel overwhelming. But by providing training in these short, concise snippets, in the same way that we consume other content today, employees are much more likely to engage with and digest that information.

2. More flexibility for the learner

Effective microlearning programs should be available on mobile devices, giving your employees the autonomy to complete modules according to their own busy schedules, in a way that suits them. Many employees consider additional training to be a chore, something else they have to make time for in their already busy work days. But if they can fit it in around other things, you are likely to see an increase in the number of people completing the course. On top of this, showing that you respect your employees' time is a surefire way to improve their job satisfaction, and ultimately, create a healthier workplace culture.   

3. Easily updated and adaptable 

Because microlearning is built on quick 5-10 minutes learning modules, custom programs can easily be tailored to the specific training needs of different departments, teams, and even individual employees. New modules can be created quickly and easily as soon as they are necessary and then rolled out to the appropriate employees. This easy adaptation is valuable in all workplace training, but especially when looking at occupational health and safety training, when it is crucial to keep employees abreast with new OSHA regulatory changes to stay compliant. Adding individual modules to your organization's training library is also a lot more cost and time efficient — instead of having to create an entirely new, long-form course for each new learning objective, new programs can be built by compiling existing modules and adding new ones where necessary. 

4. Repetitive and always accessible

Despite best efforts and intentions, and even when content is being delivered in comprehensive microlearning programs — employees are rarely ever going to retain 100% of the information consumed during training. That is, however, unless that information is reinforced with repetition by ensuring that content is always available for employees to review, and by using things like quizzes to drive home critical learning. Due to the accessibility of a good microlearning program, like companies such as Tap into Safety offer, employers can have the peace of mind that their workforce can easily reach modules and materials, whenever or wherever they need to refresh their memory.

5. Enjoyable for the learner

The digital aspect of microlearning means that training is interactive and full of engaging elements, which is enjoyable for the learner and naturally makes completing a course far more appealing. Across multiple platforms, microlearning can increase learner engagement with video and audio. Research also shows that the inclusion of games in a training course makes employees 100% more willing to participate in training. No matter how important the subject matter of the training may be, there are not many workers who would be willing to read through pages of text in a training manual or focus through hours of uninspiring PowerPoint presentations, without some serious application. But with today’s technology, it isn’t difficult to make training simple, effective, and fun.


How Can Mobile Support Training?

“Millennials are claiming the place of baby boomers as America’s largest adult generation, and as digital natives, they think differently.” - Forbes

As we move towards digitalization in almost every aspect of our lives, a good training program, whether using the microlearning approach or not, should at the very least, be accessible on mobile. Learners should be able to have access to training materials, wherever they are. A basic form of this would be making the training available on the web so that when employees have access to the internet, they can browse content on their mobile devices. But at ReadyKey, we think these expectations of what “mobile access” means can be, and should be, much higher. 

With a training program that is supported by an easy-to-use, native mobile app, with content that is available offline and a plethora of interactive features — workplace training can be taken to the next level. ReadyKey is powered by 10 years of mobile-first technology and provides unparalleled mobile support for training and onboarding programs in a multitude of ways.

Familiarity/Ease of Use

The majority of the workforce today are familiar with technology and are happy to download and engage with a mobile app that is intuitive and functions as it should. When it comes to mobile support for training, particularly critical safety training, it is even more imperative that the app should be easy and enjoyable to use. Fast loading times, a beautiful and simple interface and helpful tools such as easy search functionality — with ReadyKey, you can put an entire training program (and much more) in your workers' pockets that they can navigate intuitively.  

Engaged Workforce

Include features in your EHS training app that fosters an engaged safety culture that is embedded in the workplace. Powerful tools like QR code scanning can be used in creative ways such as placing QR codes on machinery on a factory floor which employees can scan to retrieve training reminders for a fun and interactive way to encourage repetition in their learning. A ReadyKey mobile training app also promotes an engaged community in the workplace with features such as a social feed where learners and instructors can interact and ask questions. 

Offline Availability

For training content that truly is available anytime, anywhere it has to be accessible offline. The Readkey platform allows you to provide your employees with the flexibility to study whenever and wherever is most convenient for them - whether that’s on a remote construction site or during a train commute - learners no longer have to rely on a stable internet connection to access training materials.

Multiple Types of Content Supported

Scientific research has revealed that there are 4 core learning styles — visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and reading/writing. Most people are a combination of these four styles, but more times than not, they have a predominant style of learning — so it is important to take this into consideration when designing training materials. ReadyKey apps support multiple content types such as text, images, PDFs, and embedded video & audio files. This ensures that different learning styles are catered for and information is delivered in an engaging and easily digestible way. 

Interactive Quizzes

Quizzes, surveys and live polls that are completely customizable can be used in multiple ways in a ReadyKey training app. Studies reveal that employees can forget as much as 50 percent to 80 percent when learning is not reinforced after the training event, which is why scheduling pop quizzes to drive repetition is a great way to improve retention. When course material calls for a group training session or live demonstration, whether virtually or in-person, live polls can be used to highlight key learning points in an interactive and engaging way.  

Push Notifications

ReadyKey also allows administrators to send scheduled or instant push notifications to everyone or to designated groups or individuals. Notifications can be used to alert employees when a new unit or module has been added, when a course is due to be completed, when they are required to take a refresher course, or even to prompt learners to try a pop quiz to test their knowledge. 

Easily Adaptable  

With ReadyKey’s award-winning CMS platform, building a mobile app has never been easier. With drag-and-drop functionality, course administrators can easily add and edit different features and content within their app without any technical coding experience required — making it simple, fast and enjoyable to make changes to training programs. Simple integrations using our open API also mean that updating content can be automated, so when new training material is added to a centralized system, it is automatically reflected in the mobile app. 

Final Thoughts

Employees haven’t changed in their desire to learn and need for information. However, more and more often they see traditional training methods such as long-winded classroom sessions, multi-day workshops and huge manuals of text to read as time-consuming and tedious. 

What the modern worker desires are bite-sized chunks of captivating learning that they can have the control and flexibility to engage in on their own time, in a way that suits them. Not only does this empower the employee, but is also scientifically proven to improve retention of information - which is the ultimate goal of any workplace training course. 

Organizations need to take advantage of new technology that meets their worker's training needs and wants, and embrace the fact that micro-learning supported by world-class mobile technology will be cheaper, more efficient, and, ultimately, more effective.

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