Manufacturing training tips for creating a safe and efficient workplace

Cydnie Smith
Smiling woman with long dark hair in a black shirt.
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A  simple manufacturing safety mistake could cost your organization thousands.

I want you to take a moment and imagine you’re a manager at a manufacturing plant.

It’s a hectic time of year, so you ask a team of workers to install a new machine to help increase production capacity. The machine is complex and requires specialized training to install – but you have tight production deadlines and can’t afford to take your employees off the floor for a 2-day safety training session.

Thankfully, the new machine is similar to a model they installed last month, so confidence is high.

In this scenario, a safety regulator stops by to ensure the manufacturing plant follows proper protocols. 

You’re not worried – everything is up to code, right?  

Suddenly the regulator checks the new machine and realizes that the team neglected to secure the safety guard that protected workers from injury!

The regulator has no choice but to shut the manufacturing floor down for a few days – causing you to miss the production deadlines you worked so hard to meet in the first place.

Thankfully, missed deadlines are the only consequence. Imagine if an employee had gotten hurt. Your organization could’ve faced hefty fines, further shutdown, or major legal repercussions with potentially thousands of dollars in settlement fees!

Phew – aren’t you glad this story is entirely fictional? I know I am.

 But despite being hypothetical, this illustration does demonstrate the importance of having a well-trained workforce (Oh – it also features key details you’ll need later on in this article).

Now, I know everything isn't always black and white when providing organization-based compliance training. As illustrated in the story above, companies don’t always have the time or resources to commit to traditional forms of training. 

Luckily, we will provide manufacturing training tips for a safe and efficient workplace and answer questions like

As we navigate the manufacturing world, we will establish why manufacturing training is crucial in your organization. We will also explore how it can improve workplace productivity and efficiency, provide upskilling opportunities for your employees, mitigate organizational risks, and ensure your manufacturing business runs optimally and stays compliant.

So – let’s get into it! 

Why is manufacturing training for employees essential?

The manufacturing sector is complex and can require a wide range of skills and knowledge – and as we saw in the story above, improper employee training can result in significant accidents, financial strain, in some cases, legal trouble. Further, without proper training, employees may struggle to perform effectively, leading to decreased productivity, increased waste, and lower-quality products.

Offering manufacturing training helps mitigate these risks by ensuring employees develop the skills they need to succeed. Training includes everything from operating complex machinery to understanding safety protocols and quality control measures. 

When provided with regular corporate training, your employees will better understand their job roles and responsibilities. They will also learn about new technologies and methodologies to help them work more efficiently and confidently.

I want you to stop for a second and think about your own experiences. How do you behave in situations when you’re nervous or feel ill-prepared? Usually, people are hesitant and more prone to making mistakes.

But what about when you feel bold, confident, and knowledgeable? Typically, people perform better. 

The same applies to your manufacturing employees. Comprehensive training leads to higher employee confidence. Higher employee confidence then leads to increased output and higher levels of productivity. And you know what research shows? Increased productivity can result in a 24% higher profit margin.

Moreover, offering manufacturing training shows employees that their company cares about their growth and development. It makes them feel valued and motivated, resulting in higher job satisfaction and reduced turnover rates

In turn, happier employees mean a better working environment for your workforce, better quality products for your customers, and a better bottom line for your company!

What are some additional benefits of offering manufacturing training?

While increased productivity and high-profit margins are some major reasons to offer employee manufacturing training, proper training can impact all areas of your organization. Some additional manufacturing training benefits include

A safer work environment 

Manufacturing can be a dangerous job, and your employees need to be aware of the safety hazards that come with it. Manufacturing safety training ensures that your employees know how to identify and avoid safety hazards, which can help prevent accidents in the workplace  – leading to lower workers' compensation costs, insurance costs, reduced downtime, decreased liability, and increased employee morale. 

More upskilling opportunities

The manufacturing industry is constantly evolving. With proper training, employees can keep up with the changes. Manufacturing training not only provides opportunities for reskilling employees – but also allows them to upskill and learn new things, including:

  • New technologies: The manufacturing industry relies heavily on technology, and new technologies are constantly emerging. Providing training on new technologies keeps employees up-to-date with the latest trends and helps them be more efficient in their roles.
  • Continuous improvement training: Continuous improvement is vital to the manufacturing industry. With these methodologies, employees can learn how to identify daily operations gaps and improve their performance and the overall manufacturing process.
  • Technical training: Technical training is also essential in the manufacturing industry as it ensures employees remain knowledgeable about the machinery and equipment used in their roles.

When employees are encouraged to learn and develop new skills, they're more likely to take ownership of their work and strive for higher performance – which, in turn, can lead to a more motivated and engaged workforce. 

Ultimately, by investing in the development of their employees, organizations can create a clear career path for their employees (improving employee retention rates and reducing turnover rates) and foster a culture of learning and growth that benefits everyone.

Why offer manufacturing training to your employees online?

Now, you might be thinking, "Wow! Manufacturing training is exactly what my workplace is missing. But, I don't have the time or resources to provide traditional in-person training for all my employees. What do I do?" 

Well, that’s where eLearning comes in. 

Unlike many one-size-fits-all traditional training options, online manufacturing training allows your employees to learn at their own pace, on their own time, and in their preferred way. Plus, it's often more cost-effective than in-person training. Let’s break down some of the key reasons that 90% of companies offer their employees some form of online training.

Convenient and flexible

Online training offers flexibility that traditional training methods do not. Instead of halting productivity by pulling your employees off the floor to complete an in-person training session, your employees can complete the training on their own time and at their own pace. Many eLearning platforms even offer mobile-friendly learning to reduce the impact on their work schedule further.

Financially cost-effective

We mentioned this above, but since finances play a significant factor in training implementation – the cost of online training is one topic worth expanding upon. Online training is often cheaper than traditional in-person training due to reduced facility costs, travel, equipment, training facilitators, overhead expenses, and other factors.

Engagement and learner experience

When it comes to learner experience, online training covers two crucial elements: location and design. 

From a location perspective, online training is available to your employees regardless of location. Location accessibility can be especially beneficial if employees work remotely or in different parts of the country. 

Now from a design perspective.

In a traditional learning setting, you have little control over your learners’ experience. 

Will the classroom enhance or detract from their learning experience? Will their instructor be both knowledgeable and capture their attention? 

On the other hand, with an eLearning platform, you have significantly more control.  You can include features like:

  • Gamification to increase employee engagement
  • Adaptive learning capabilities to improve learning outcomes
  • An intuitive UX/UI that is simple, clean, and visually appealing ensures ease of use and meets all employees' needs, including those who could be less tech-savvy or require special assistance.

Speaking of customization…

Customize your online training experience

Online training can be customized to meet the company's and its employees' specific needs, allowing for more targeted training to improve job performance. It also offers a more standardized and consistent approach to training, ensuring that all employees receive the same level of training regardless of their location or department.

So now that you know why online manufacturing training is essential for organizational growth – the real question is, what kind of training should you offer your employees?

What manufacturing training should you offer to your employees?

Well, the answer to this question depends entirely on your organization’s needs. To narrow down your training offerings, you must first consider questions like:

  • What skills do my employees need to improve? 
  • What skills do I want my employees to gain? 
  • What are my learning objectives, and which training courses can help me achieve them?
A grid of icons titled, "The manufacturing training you should offer your employees." Top row, left-to-right: Onboarding (compass), safety (hard hat), machine operations (conveyor belt with arm), management (user in a tie). Bottom row: Conflict resolution (handshake), productivity (clipboard with a checklist), developmental skill (side-view of a head with a brain), compliance (shield with a checkmark).

Of course, you won’t have these answers right away. So as you consider the above questions, we will explore some of the more common manufacturing training you should offer your employees to help them develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their roles.

Onboarding training

Employee onboarding training is the first step in employee success,  as it helps new hires become familiar with your organization’s culture, policies, and procedures. The training should include an introduction to the company's mission, vision, values, and products and services. Onboarding training should also cover the basics of safety and compliance and expectations for behavior and performance in their roles.

Safety training

If the story at the beginning of this article is any indication, then you know safety training is essential for all employees working in a manufacturing environment. It is crucial to ensure that your employees understand the potential hazards and risks associated with their work and know how to stay safe on the job. Safety training should cover personal protective equipment (PPE), hazard communication, machine guarding, and emergency procedures.

Machine operations training

Working hand in hand with safety training, machine operations training is critical for employees who work with machinery and equipment. It gives them the skills and knowledge to operate the machines safely and effectively. Machine operations training should cover machine setup, maintenance, and troubleshooting topics.

Management training

I know we’ve talked a lot about training for your manufacturing employees. But did you know nearly 50% of managers with ten or more years of experience say they’ve only received about nine total hours of training?  

Among managers who oversee one to two employees, 59% report having no training at all. And for those with less than one year as a manager, 43% have had no training at all.

The thing is, it's crucial to your organizational success that your managers receive leadership training. Not only do they ensure operations run smoothly, they play an integral role in employee retention (a Gallup study shows that 50% of employees left their job "to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career”).

Thus, ensuring your managers have the leadership skills and knowledge to effectively lead and motivate their teams is essential – particularly in the manufacturing industry where performance may result in life or death. Manufacturing management training should cover communication, delegation, performance management, and conflict resolution topics.

Conflict resolution training

Conflict resolution training is essential for all employees, especially those in supervisory or management roles. Conflict resolution training helps employees develop the skills they need to resolve conflicts constructively and productively while minimizing the impact on productivity and morale. I mean, think about it, who wants their employees operating heavy machinery when they’re angry? Yikes! 

Productivity training

Productivity training helps employees work more efficiently and effectively. The training should cover time management, organization, and process improvement. It should also provide employees with tools and techniques to identify and eliminate waste in the manufacturing process.

Developmental skill training

In addition to performing well in their roles, your employees want to advance in their careers. Developmental skill training provides employees with the skills they need to take on new organizational roles and responsibilities.

Developmental skill training should cover problem-solving, decision-making, and critical thinking.

Compliance training

In addition to safety training, compliance training helps employees understand the laws and regulations that govern the manufacturing industry. The training should cover environmental regulations, labor laws, and workplace safety standards.

At the end of the day, offering your employees the right type of training is critical to your manufacturing business's success. By implementing a comprehensive training program that includes onboarding, safety, management, conflict resolution, productivity, developmental skill, compliance, and machine operations training, you can create a workforce that is well-equipped to handle the challenges of the manufacturing industry.

How to create an effective online manufacturing training program for your employees?

By now, we can all agree that online manufacturing training can be a significant and rewarding investment, full of benefits for both your employees and your organization. But how do you create an effective manufacturing eLearning program for your employees? 

Don’t worry – we’ll explore the key steps in creating your manufacturing training program.

Step one: Conduct a training audit

Before developing an eLearning program, it's crucial to conduct a training audit to identify areas where training is needed and evaluate the effectiveness of existing training programs. You can do this by completing a training needs analysis, observing employee performance, and conducting surveys and focus groups with your workforce. Your training audit should cover all aspects of the manufacturing process, including safety, equipment operation, and quality control.

Step two: Complete assessments and knowledge checks

Once the training audit is complete, the next step is to conduct training assessments and knowledge checks. These evaluations help determine employees' current knowledge and skill level and identify areas where additional training is required. Assessments can be quizzes, tests, or practical exercises, while knowledge checks can be quick, interactive activities that reinforce key concepts.

Step three: Select your tools and source training

There are numerous tools available to create an eLearning program. These include Learning Management Systems (LMS), microlearning, adaptive learning, eLearning authoring tools, and pre-packaged training content libraries. Each tool has advantages and disadvantages, depending on the organization's specific needs:

  • LMS: An LMS manages all aspects of an eLearning program, including course delivery, tracking, and reporting – which makes it an excellent tool for organizations that need to track employee progress and performance.
  • Microlearning: Microlearning involves breaking down training into small, easily digestible chunks that employees can access on the go. It is an ideal tool for employees who work on the floor and need quick, accessible training.
  • Adaptive learning: Adaptive learning uses data analytics to personalize training for individual learners, making it ideal for employees with different learning styles and needing personalized training to achieve their goals.
  • Authoring tools: Authoring tools are particularly effective for organizations that need to train employees on proprietary information or processes as they allow organizations to create custom eLearning courses. 
  • eLearning content libraries: eLearning content libraries offer a rich archive of training topics and courses that organizations can use as-is or customize to meet their needs. In short – why reinvent the wheel when managers and employees can access the information they need in one easily accessible place?

Step four: Building your custom courses

After selecting your learning tools, and identifying training gaps, it's time to build your custom eLearning courses. The courses should be interactive, engaging, and tailored to your organization's needs. They should also incorporate assessments and knowledge checks to evaluate employee learning and ensure effective training. Integrating feedback and evaluations into your program is essential to ensure employees retain the knowledge they've learned. 

Don’t want to build courses yourself (I don’t blame you)? Don’t worry – you can always enlist an instructional design agency to help! 

We know manufacturing training is crucial for ensuring a safe and efficient workplace. The potential hazards involved in manufacturing require employees to receive proper training and adhere to safety protocols. By following these steps, organizations can create a successful eLearning program that meets your workforce’s needs and helps achieve your organization’s learning goals.

Online training for manufacturing employees: practical use cases for your consideration

Alright – we’ve established how to build an effective online manufacturing training program for your employees. So it’s time to take a step back.

Remember the scenario at the beginning of this article?

We’ll look at our fictional workplace granularly to explore how manufacturing eLearning could have prevented such catastrophic consequences. 

Illustration of a worker working on a piece of machinery that shows some different colored bars. The worker is looking at their digital tablet, with the words, "how to" on the screen, with the same set of bars in different colors. A lightbulb in a bubble is projecting from this worker. To the right is an almost identical image, but the bars on the machinery now match the tablet screen, and an secondary character is now present, holding a clipboard and also has a checkmark in a speechbubble.

Let’s start with the workers installing the new machine. 

In the story, the installation team didn’t have time to complete the necessary machine operation training before setting up a new machine. 

So how could manufacturing eLearning help ensure these employees complete the required training without interrupting or impeding their workflow?

Well, microlearning is an excellent option for employees who don’t have time to complete extensive training. It involves breaking down training into small, easily digestible chunks that employees can access when they have time.

Instead of spending time on a lengthy training module, the installation team could complete shorter courses dedicated to proper equipment set-up. Faster training modules mean employees get the training they need and spend less time off the floor – resulting in more knowledgeable staff and higher productivity levels.

These courses could be interactive, requiring hands-on or role-play exercises to ensure they complete all the steps involved in machine set-up (including checking for safety guards).

Okay, let’s switch gears and look at the rest of the manufacturing employees. One team may be responsible for installing the equipment, but what about those using it? They not only need safety training to help prevent injury, they also need to retain that information for daily use.

That’s where adaptive learning techniques come in. As employees complete safety training, vital information would pop up repeatedly until mastered to encourage long-term retention. This organization’s learning and development team could also curate the eLearning program to ensure the employee completes interactive assessments requiring them to practice proper machine safety protocols.

Finally, we shall turn our attention to you, the manager in question. I understand you have deadlines to meet, so it may be tempting to forgo specialized training in favor of productivity. But imagine your company has a protocol for situations like this.

Let’s say company policy states that all employees must complete mandatory training before installing any new equipment – a detail you missed while trying to review countless slides full of corporate compliance jargon. (It’s okay – it happens).  Manufacturing eLearning allows organizations to customize learning to boost engagement and participation. Not only does online manufacturing training make it easy to organize material in an engaging and easily digestible way, but it can also include interactive elements like gamification, scenario-based learning , and learning simulations to help managers apply compliance policies to real-life situations!

Managers can make more informed decisions by understanding how their choices affect the company and their employees, leading to better organizational results.

Offering manufacturing training benefits everyone involved: from employees to managers to the organization as a whole.

Once your manufacturing training program is running, what do you do next?

Congratulations – we’ve officially made it to the end of the article!  By now, you should have your manufacturing eLearning program up and running.

Just kidding! 

But before you embark on your implementation journey, I want to equip you with everything you need to ensure your online manufacturing training program remains a success. So here are a few post-launch tips:

  • Measure, measure, measure: The only way to know if your training program is successful is to gather and review your learning analytics and metrics. Set clear objectives for your training program, then track progress toward those objectives. Some of the data you want to measure include employee retention, productivity, and quality control.
  • Observe behavioral changes: Once your employees have completed your training program, watch for changes in their behavior. Are they using the skills they learned during training daily? Are they applying new problem-solving techniques on the job? If you see positive changes in employee behavior, you can be confident that your training program is making a difference.
  • Solicit learner feedback: Don't just assume that your training program is effective – ask your employees for their feedback! Send out surveys or hold focus groups to get input on what's working well and what needs improvement. Take their feedback seriously and use it to refine your training program over time.
  • Maintain your course/program: Your training program should never be a "set it and forget it" endeavor. Keep your program up-to-date by regularly updating course materials, incorporating new technologies, and addressing emerging trends in the manufacturing industry. Maintaining your program will ensure your employees constantly learn the latest skills and techniques.

In short, launching your manufacturing training program is just the beginning! With careful monitoring, ongoing feedback, and continuous improvement, you can ensure that your program is a success for years to come.

Creating custom manufacturing eLearning programs to improve safety and efficiency in the workplace

Well,  there you have it – our top manufacturing training tips for a safe and efficient workplace! 

By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can improve workplace efficiency, mitigate catastrophic risks, and ensure that your manufacturing team is well-equipped to handle any challenge that comes their way!

If you’re ready to get started building your manufacturing eLearning program, your first step is to check out our introduction to online training – especially if you're just getting started with online training. This collection of articles will guide you through online training building blocks, the basic types of online training, advanced online training types and concepts, and practical steps for putting your training plan into action.

Of course, suppose you’d like to do a bit more exploration into the wonderful world of eLearning. In that case, you can head back to the Learning Hub to access various free resources to help you improve your corporate work environment and meet your organizational goals.

Smiling woman with long dark hair in a black shirt.
Cydnie Smith

Cydnie is an experienced writer, editor, and blogger who believes that accessibility plus a dash of creative storytelling is essential to cultivating a memorable learning experience.

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