How agile is your company? How agile are you?

woman in gray leggings and black sports bra doing yoga on yoga mat
Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

A worldwide health crisis like COVID hasn’t just created a ripple in the business world – it’s created a full scale tsunami which has affected businesses across the globe.  From your micro business selling homemade chutney at Sunday markets to multinational giants selling technological solutions to keep people connected – no one has escaped the knock on consequence of living through a pandemic.

Some businesses didn’t manage to weather the storm.  Sadly, some have failed and are unlikely to resurface even once we go back to ‘normal’ – however that looks.  However, others have thrived – either because their businesses already addressed rapidly emerging consumer demands (e.g. Zoom, Uber Eats, Virgin Media and the supermarket giants who all brought our world indoors to us) or because they were agile enough to quickly change and diversify to suit a new type of market.

For some, this agility not only resulted in them remaining viable, but actually improved their offering.  For example, an events company, faced with complete loss of revenue, moved to an online offering and actually increased their performance – online will now form an ongoing part of their business model.

So, how did the tsunami of change impact on our world of health and safety?  After all, it’s not an area known for its dynamism.  We know from experience during the early days of launching SiteSentinel – our online safety induction platform – that suggesting, or even hinting, at technological change can be met with a euphemistic brick wall.

The rail industry told us it couldn’t work – workers didn’t have email addresses, didn’t like online information, didn’t need to move away from paper, etc. In one meeting, a safety director even walked out on us, issuing the decree “we’ll be having none of that internet stuff in here…!”

Yet here we are now, almost 30 worksites later – all using SiteSentinel to safely induct new workers and visitors online – with plenty more in the pipeline.  So, what makes some companies open their eyes to what technology can offer? Why do some organisations embrace change? Why are they ‘agile,’ to use a modern adjective?

As with most organisational successes or failures, the direction of travel is set by senior management. If senior, board level, management are asking questions about technology adoption, change management, digital enhancement, then it’s likely that the rest of the organisation will follow.

So, how agile is your organisation? How willing are they to adopt new technology or simply embrace change? Or perhaps the question actually is – how agile are YOU?

Repeat business – as straightforward as it sounds?

The idea of repeat business sounds so clear cut: customers electing to return for more work, often needing something the same or similar, and all wrapped up in an established working relationship.  It might therefore seem like an opportunity to roll out more of what worked previously, and in some circumstances, this is exactly what the customer wants.  However, even with pure repeat business there is a process of checking and challenging that must happen to ensure the customer gets what they need.

Take our SiteSentinel online worksite induction solution, which we’ve successfully rolled out across numerous rail sites – depots and more recently stations. The structure and benefits stay largely the same, yet the content often contains significant differences – additions, subtractions and points of emphasis. It all depends on the nature of the site and its associated risk.

As consultants accepting repeat business, the benefits of already knowing an industry are huge.  We can make good use of standard industry phrases or acronyms in site induction content, confident that induction users will be familiar with the terminology.  For example, the rail industry ‘HOT’ protocol for assessing the risk of an unattended object: Is it Hidden from view?  Is it Obviously suspicious?  Is it Typical of what one would expect to find in that area?  We can use this across different site inductions safe in the knowledge that all rail employees will understand it.

Repeat business also means that as consultants we become more and more familiar with our customers’ policies and procedures; making us adept at knowing exactly when and where to cite them for maximum impact in site inductions.  By supporting our clients across multiple different sites, we are also efficiently and effectively communicating company-wide policies across the organisation – helping to develop awareness, support uptake and increase consistency of implementation.

However, the real benefits for a customer comes from a consultant that doesn’t make assumptions when undertaking what looks like a repeat job.  Just because one site paints its safe walking route yellow, doesn’t mean they all will – even if they are all part of the same company.  For many of the rail companies we work with, every site is different, and if we make assumptions, we risk making mistakes.

Therefore, for each site induction we develop, especially when it’s repeat business, we remain actively curious.  We ask questions, we don’t jump to conclusions and we never assume we know the answer just because of what we did at a neighbouring site.  It’s only when we’ve completed a thorough assessment that we begin to carefully add or remove content from the induction programme to ensure it reflects each unique site perfectly.

If you get it right, customers will vote with their feet.  Having implemented SiteSentinel across a range of train operating company sites, Arriva Rail London, East Midlands Railway and Greater Anglia are just some of our customers that have returned for more site induction development at different sites in the last six months… which is no small achievement considering the last six months we’ve all had!

EMR Expand their SiteSentinel Portfolio

Photo of Kettering Sidings, roads 1 to 4.
Roads 1 to 4 at KDS

It’s always a great feeling when an existing client comes back for more! East Midlands Railway have added a fourth site, Kettering Sidings, to their SiteSentinel portfolio.

Kettering Sidings has recently been redeveloped to provide stabling, cleaning and light-maintenance services. The site has four roads, overhead electric power, a CET system, and driver welfare facilities. East Midlands Railway, based in Derby, provides services across the East Midlands, and run services between the east midlands and London.

The SiteSentinel platform provides an online induction, test and administration interface. The system is designed to consistently deliver relevant, high-quality information using text, photos, video and illustrations. SiteSentinel provides an audit trail of site inductions for staff, visitors, and contractors.

How do you make online training engaging?

people on a video call
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And ‘Boom!’ just like that we were thrown into a world of home working, online meetings, virtual conferences and screen based training… and although we may not have chosen this way of working, we’re gradually finding our way.

So, consider this – you’re faced with around 50 trainees, all eager to learn in real time from the comfort of their home office.  You also have a handful of different trainers – also working from home – ready to share their knowledge and expertise.  How do you make sure, despite the virtual environment, that the learning experience is relevant, useful and engaging?  Just recently we’ve been doing exactly this and have some hints and tips we hope you may find useful…

  1. Firstly, to create engagement you need to prepare, prepare and prepare again.  Unlike a face to face setting, engagement won’t just ‘happen’ in the room.  Instead you’ll need to think about how to generate engagement using the training content, interactive tools and a healthy dose of creativity – so you’ll need to plan for this.
  2. Don’t expect to simply take the slides you’ve used for face-to-face training and deliver them online.  Trainees will be more reliant on the specific content; they may need more or less detail, superior images or embedded videos, as well as interactive activities and games.  So, review your tried and tested slides through an online ‘lens’ well before the training session is due to happen.
  3. Consider your own delivery style – on screen you may need to work that bit harder to convey enthusiasm and interest in your specialism.  You might want to consider slightly exaggerating your usual way of explaining a topic; and remember to move and smile!  This will all help build interest and engagement in the subject matter.
  4. Activities like online quizzes (Kahoot is one that works well), videos, ‘podcast’ style interviews and scenarios for discussion all provide different formats for learning which helps maintain interest.
  5. For larger training cohorts, breakout rooms can be effectively used to split trainees into smaller groups to foster relationship building, more focused discussion and inject variety into the learning experience.
  6. Encourage interaction between the trainees and the trainers – most online meeting platforms have a chat facility which provides a great way to gather questions whilst presenting.  If there are two trainers – share the load – have one present whilst the other monitors and responds to the questions.
  7. Invite other ways of trainees communicating their views – without it disrupting the overall session.  For example, using participants ‘status’ facility is akin to a quick ‘show of hands.’  Don’t be afraid to ask people for their opinion like this!
  8. Strongly encourage or even mandate people to keep their video on unless they have a valid reason not to.  There’s nothing like a lack of visibility to reduce engagement.
  9. Consider using ‘backchannel’ communications on a different platform like WhatsApp – it allows the trainers to talk to each other to rectify any issues or change the presentation plan to suit the mood or address feedback in real time.
  10. Finally – ask for immediate feedback using a polling facility – most of the online meeting platforms have them.  It’s an excellent way of quickly gathering high level feedback on the training session.

So, what are your hints and tips?  Do you have any you’d like to share?  Additional input is always welcome to make sure we keep learning too!

Face to face training may have had to stop for now, but thankfully good learning experiences don’t have to…

How many people attended your site in 2020?

city road building industry
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On the face of it, the number of people attending your worksite in 2020 seems like a straightforward question… after all, there is likely to be a visitor book in reception, diarised meeting records, worksite inductions undertaken… so it should be relatively simple to calculate… shouldn’t it?

Of course, the reality is often somewhat different.  A reception book that wasn’t clear or missing altogether, the odd meeting that didn’t get put into Outlook, induction paperwork mislaid, training records not always up to date… need we go on?  It all makes the accurate estimation of an exact number, that bit more challenging.  

So, imagine if you had an online worksite induction system that kept a digital record of every visitor walking through your worksite. At the touch of a button you could generate the number of people that have visited your site that year, month, week or day.  More so, you could generate these same numbers for previous years to start getting a longer term view of visitor trends at your site.

We know from Site Sentinel, our online worksite safety induction platform, that we helped deliver 17,510 individual worksite inductions during 2020.  Our largest depot customer delivered a huge 5,024 worksite safety inductions to visitors at its site alone.  At the opposite end of the scale, our depot with the smallest turnover still delivered a substantial 88 individual worksite inductions in 2020.

We couldn’t be happier that we helped not only deliver the inductions, but also helped to securely store the training data in an easily retrievable format.  This means our SiteSentinel solution forms an integral part of a company’s competency management system.  If you required data on exactly how many inductions were undertaken during a particular time frame, or details on who has, or hasn’t completed an induction, SiteSentinel can quickly provide the data in a few clicks.

So… if you found it hard to estimate how many people visited your site in 2020, or just want to digitise your worksite induction system so competency data is at your fingertips when you need it most, is now a good time to consider solutions for 2021?