In times of recession, companies may change the standard for what is acceptable when it comes to HSE, competence and training. Simply complying with the regulatory requirements may cut costs in the short run. However, cutting to the bone could do irreversible damage to your company – even putting your employees’ safety at risk.
Across the industries we work closely with at Mintra Group, such as the Oil & Gas industry or the Maritime industry, it is particularly important not to let best practices for HSE, competence and training sink to a level of just “good enough”. Regulators in some countries have already started to raise concerns, urging companies to think before they cut. For instance, The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate warns that the infamous Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 has already cost more than USD 50 billion, and asks whether this accident could have been avoided with better training or routines.
Employees need adequate training
Maintaining a highly skilled workforce is crucial for most of the companies we work with at Mintra Group. If they should fail to provide adequate training for their employees, the consequences could be severe. For example, downtime of equipment due to lack of knowledge and skills whilst operating, operations being stopped due to safety issues, or in the worst case injuries – or even death.
What we see more often is that training that is considered “nice to have” are being cut, such as leadership training or communication skills. However, these skills can also have an enormous effect on both safety and operations.
Focus solely on mandatory requirements
Unfortunately, I believe that best practice in regards to HSE, competence and training has not been maintained by some of the companies in the industries we serve. Rather, the new agenda seems to be to focus solely on the mandatory requirements. Apparently, fulfilling best practice standards is now considered more of a cost burden than a valuable investment in their business and employees.
One major incident with training or competence seen as the root cause would perhaps change this focus. Meanwhile, regulators in many countries have increased the number of audits in the wake of massive job cuts across the Oil & Gas industry and they continue to issue enforcement notices.
Efficiency is key
Still, I would argue that the need to cut costs does not have to happen at the expense of quality. It does, however, require your company to take certain steps by making systems and learning processes as effecient as possible.
Today, as HR and training departments are becoming smaller as a result of the recession, the workload can be dramatically increased for the remaining employees. Therefore, it is critical to have streamlined processes and systems in place which prevent your employees from having to do unnecessary work or perform the same tasks repeatedly. Your systems need to be both automated and efficient to avoid the risk of diminishing standards, monitoring and record keeping. If your company is downsizing, it is also crucial to store all information in the systems and not with the people.
When it comes to training, we notice that more and more companies are starting to appreciate the flexibility and simplicity of eLearning courses. This means that the courses can be completed wherever and whenever, and that the content can be customized to fit the employee’s current level of competence. We can arrange for training matrices to be directly linked to roles and competences, and then cross-referenced to regulatory requirements and industry best practices.
Achieving best practice for HR, competence and training is still possible, even if you are forced to reduce costs. Settling for “good enough” may prove to be a gamble. At Mintra Group, we provide standardized and easy solutions to complex software solutions for highly automated HR, competence and training processes which can help your current employees stay sharp, and give new employees the competence and training they need to succeed.