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 and may even put your employees’ safety at risk.
Across the industries with whom Mintra Group works closely, such as Oil & Gas or Maritime, it is particularly important not to let best practices for HSE, competence and training sink to the 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 companies fail to provide adequate training for their employees, the consequences could be severe. Such companies risk equipment downtime resulting from knowledge and skills gaps; operations being stopped due to safety issues; and in the worst case death or serious injury.
What we see more often is training that is considered ‘nice to have,’ such as leadership training or communication skills, being cut. However, these skills can also have an enormous effect on both safety and operations.
Focus solely on mandatory requirements
Unfortunately, I believe that some companies in the industries we serve are not maintaining best practice in regards to HSE, competence and training. 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 the business and its employees.
One major incident whose root cause is identified as a training or competence issue 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
I maintain 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 efficient as possible.
Today, as HR and training departments remain small 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 that 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 suits the employer, 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 software solutions for highly automated HR, competence and training processes that can help your current employees stay sharp, and give new employees the competence and training they need to succeed.