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It is back to school time.  I remember when I was younger, I was thinking about what to wear for the first day of school, making sure I had the perfect outfit for the school yearbook.  But, as I got older, my focus turned to the subjects that I was going to be studying.  Some my questions were: How hard is the professor? How much homework will she give us? How many exams will we have to take?  As I reflect back, I don’t remember thinking much beyond passing each course. In fact, in Linear Analysis, a 400-level math course, the professor actually said and I quote, “I know I have a lot of engineering students in this class and you are wondering what the practical application is for this subject and I will tell you – I have no idea.”  And he was right – I have never used anything I learned in that class in the real world.

But, as we look at training our operators, it is important that the information that is being presented has a practical application that the operators can apply to their work and/or personal lives. This doesn’t just apply to the training around their daily tasks, but, it also applies to safety training, HR training and environmental training.

When presenting training to operators, try to tie in real world experiences to the material. In the past, when conducting ladder safety training – I talked about how I almost fell off a ladder while cleaning my gutters at my house.  Or when discussing PPE, I talk about the importance of wearing safety glasses, even when working on projects at your home.  When discussing environmental training, I include tips on how to dispose of hazardous household chemicals.

If the training material is something that the operator can personalize and understand why it is important, at work or in his personal life, the training will have a much greater impact.

And if you do that, I am sure your operators will be more engaged and receptive than I was in Linear Analysis.

For more practical tips for manufacturing professionals to attract, train and retain your hourly workforce, go to