Recently we partnered with Prominence Consulting to develop and deliver a Work Health and Safety (WHS) training program for state school cleaners. It was a four-hour mandatory workshop for cleaners across Queensland. As often the case with WHS training there is a heavy emphasis on content … and a lot of it!

User being observed climbing ladder

During the training needs analysis phase, we were struck by two psychosocial risks relating to cleaners:

  • Poor worker/team leader relationships
  • Lack of control or autonomy over work tasks.

Although the training program didn’t address these directly, it was evident during delivery they were real and present dangers. When you’re required to punch through content, and suddenly the people you’re working with feel disempowered, what do you do? Is content truly king? How do you balance expectations of clients with the psychosocial needs of participants?

These questions raced through our minds like a very fast train through the countryside. Then BAM – a fork in the track appeared that would lead to the same destination. The client had a plethora of standard operating procedures and information sheets that many of the cleaners had never seen. Incidental resources were elevated in status and we used them to model worker-team leader conversations. We were expected to re-use incidental resources in other sessions to save on printing. When tidying up after the session—none remained!

Marrying content with empathy can be tricky. It is however, vital. When people know more (in context), they can do more … for themselves!