Celia is the HR manager for her company and she handles the internal training when the staff needs to be updated about new employment laws or regulations. She’s been very busy lately preparing to explain the proposed regulations by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on new overtime rules and the DOL’s new “economic reality” test for independent contractors.
Celia’s fascinated by the process of how these new rules are formulated. She wants to understand why the DOL perceives employment problems that need to be fixed. She thinks understanding this background will help her explain the new rules to her fellow employees. Celia creates a PowerPoint presentation that summarizes what she’s learned.
The big day arrives and her co-workers reluctantly gather in the training room. Celia begins her presentation with PowerPoint slides about the Fair Labor Standards Act which is the basis for the new guidance and rules. Then she talks about DOL’s reasons for changing the rules.
After ten minutes, an employee asks how the new rules will affect his job. Celia tells him “we’ll get to that in a minute” and clicks through to the next slide. The third time she repeats that phrase, employees begin shifting in their chairs. Some employees surreptitiously check their devices for emails or the latest Candy Crush game.
At the half hour mark, Celia notices that the crowd has thinned. The smart employees grabbed seats near the back of the room so that they could escape. The sycophantic employees and those angling for promotions are hopelessly trapped near the front of the room and forced to continue listening to her presentation.
Celia limps through the rest of her presentation and asks if there are questions. People glare at each other to ensure no one is stupid enough to prolong the suffering by asking questions. Celia ends the training session and one person is trampled in the dash for the exits.
What could Celia do at her next training session to keep people engaged?
- She could use flashier PowerPoint slides to keep everyone’s attention.
- She could create handouts with key points for discussion and stop using PP slides.
- She could revise her presentation to explain how the new rules will specifically affect her co-workers’ jobs.
The above scenario is an only-slightly fictionalized account of dozens of in-house training sessions that I’ve experienced over the years. No co-workers were ever trampled so there was nothing to break the monotony. To avoid Celia’s fate at your company’s next training session, consider using the third option by making the information specific and relevant to the employees.
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