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SiTUATE Use Case: Improved Coaching in Physical Workplace to Reduce Back Injuries

Coaching has become a trendy topic for many learning management systems. After all, doesn’t every organization want their managers to be coaches with subordinate employees? But what is the value of coaching? The answer is not about the coaching, but about the performance problem that coaching is being used to help address.

Here’s a unique use of S-OJT from several years ago, and represents an important model for today’s use of SiTUATE, the digital version of S-OJT. Consider the following situation that’s common in many industrial firms. A large regional utility company sought to reduce the number of back strains and injuries experienced by production personnel which, as many readers know, is painful for employees potentially leading to missed work days and is expensive to the company because of its chronic nature. Most back strains and injuries that occur on the job are caused by improper lifting techniques.

Given that information, our solution was to help the company develop an S-OJT program for supervisors on how to coach others to use proper lifting techniques. That is, with the training, supervisors could now intervene with confidence when observing a potentially hazardous situation. The logic was that supervisors could often tell employees they should use proper lifting techniques in a general sense, but they really didn’t know how to use a specific coaching process to change the employee’s behavior, without unnecessarily escalating the situation. As readers might expect, proper lifting techniques is a topic repeatedly discussed in the company’s scheduled classroom-based safety meetings, so employees know better at least in principle. Regardless, back strains and injuries continue to occur anyhow.

We learned much from this project experience. We found that training supervisors as coaches – through S-OJT – contributed to a dramatic reduction in the occurrence of back strains and injuries among production employees. It’s interesting that using S-OJT to train one employee level impacts the performance of another employee level. That was an interesting series of causal events, all for the good.

Today, coaching employees to use safe work behaviors has become more difficult than ever before. For one thing, supervisors and employees may not be located in the same work location, so supervisors can’t always watch out for and intervene to prevent potentially hazardous situations. And, many jobs simply require individuals, such as service technicians, to do their work off site at the customer’s location. So it’s critical that when supervisors engage their employees about safety, the training must use the most effective approach possible.

The evolving changes in the workplace have focused more attention on SiTUATE, especially for delivering safety programs, because the platform retains the features of S-OJT, along with adding the integration and flexibility possible when using a digital technology.

For more information about S-OJT and SiTUATE, contact us today.

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