Two weeks ago I was asked to deliver the keynote speech for the Desert Produce Safety Collaboration Conference. This was a group of people who are responsible for keeping the food that goes onto your dinner table safe and healthy. Making sure they and the people they work with are well-trained and well-equipped to do their jobs is kind of important.
I certainly talked about standard elements to more effective training programs – incorporating principles of adult learning, identifying clear objectives and the like. But in speaking with the conference organizer about some of the challenges this audience faces – only having 15 minutes at the beginning of the day, needing to train people in English and Spanish, having a new group of workers in the fields every day that may or may not have received earlier training – I realized I was going to need to go beyond traditional instructional design basics.
I spent some time talking about job aids.
In an office setting, job aids might consist of handouts like a checklist or a flow chart. Those are great job aids, but for people working on the floor of a factory or out in the fields harvesting crops, traditional handouts just won’t do.
I didn’t just want to talk about the idea of the need to get creative when it came to job aids. I wanted to offer some examples.
As I was waiting for my luggage at the airport in Yuma, AZ, I looked up and noticed this sign, which is a fantastic example of a creative job aid (I added it to my slide deck!).
It’s placed exactly where “infractions” can occur, and it uses a sense of humor to grab people’s attention.
Even in the cab ride over to the conference center, I noticed this sign which offers several types of aid: 1) It let’s passengers know the rates for a ride, and 2) In very subtle language it lets passengers know that it’s a bad idea to puke in the cab (note the “clean-up fee”).
Sometimes training isn’t the right answer. Sometimes it is the right answer, but it’s just not possible, particularly in an environment with high turnover or the inability to bring people together to dig deeply into a topic, regardless of how important that topic may be (like keeping the food supply safe!). Sometimes a well-placed job aid is all you need.
What are examples of some of the most effective job aids you’ve seen? Let’s hear about them in the comment section.