Whether it is continuing education or an introduction to a new workplace, training sessions are a wonderful opportunity for learners to engage and absorb new and important information. In the same way that the newly learned concepts will carry over to employees’ workdays, a positive experience in the training session will have a benefit on the information retained.
Ensuring that employees get the most out of their training goes beyond finding the right instructors and course materials. It involves ensuring that training spaces are set up to provide a calming and stress-free environment. That’s even more important today as a new Kelton Global Research Study of U.S. employees finds that nearly half (48%) are feeling more stressed and anxious over the past year due to COVID-19.
Whether employees have remained in the physical workplace or are in the process of returning to work, there are some key steps that employers can take to help create healthier training environments that foster workplace wellness.
Expectations, Schedules and Communication
At the core of a training session, the time structure is crucial and can either provide a sense of confidence to participants or make a session even more stressful. While there are numerous schools of thought and teaching styles, there are a few core tenets that can be beneficial to all.
Send an Itinerary
Even if it is just a quick breakdown of start times, breaks and wrap ups, sending out an itinerary or agenda is a courtesy that benefits attendees and instructors alike. The more information, the better, though be careful as not to overwhelm.
Particularly if you have already communicated an itinerary, it is important to stick to scheduled times. This can help everyone mentally prepare for the information that is to come and shows that your organization respects trainees’ personal schedules.
At the beginning of your training session, clearly communicate expectations for both attendees as well as what the instructor will adhere to. In particular, if you are saving questions for later or if you would like people to ask as you go, let this be known ahead of time. Once you get going, what you allow is what will continue, so if you relax your standards, you should be prepared for others to follow suit. As always, the more information, the better.
Thoughtful, Flexible Layouts
While they may have a lot in common, training rooms are often larger than conference rooms and require a different set of fixtures and amenities. Different sessions often benefit from different configurations, whether a straight-forward setup or a horseshoe design. Easy-to-move tables, chairs on casters and mobile instructors’ stations are staples of a well-outfitted training space.
Sometimes there is a drastic difference in the number of attendees as well. When the room is fully packed or sparsely occupied, adjust the amount of seating to accommodate. If there is a lot of unoccupied furniture, make sure you are able to store it in an out-of-the-way, designated space. Nesting tables with flip tops and coordinating nesting chairs reduce the space this overflow supply will take up, providing a much more orderly and less distracting storage solution.
Nice, Relaxing Interior Design
The visual appearance of your space is just as important as your furniture selections. Neutral color palettes, which are more calming, do not have to be boring. Switch a simple off-white for a subtle pastel that is easy to accent with art and upholstery (though distracting pieces or photographs are discouraged), adding a daring accent wall if the space allows. The paint colors you choose can have a direct impact on mood. For example, greens can inadvertently make occupants feel ill while reds are known to inspire anger.
Lighting is an equally impactful design consideration. The more natural light the better. While this is a consideration for an architect, ensuring that your layout capitalizes on ambient sunlight is key, all while preventing any direct sunlight from taking over the space. Overhead and task lighting should lean toward vibrant hues, incorporating daylight-mimicking bulbs in favor of drab fluorescents.
Easy-to-Access Tools and Materials
Training time often requires tools-of-the-trade or just simple supplies like pens and paper. An ample stash of your typical requirements can be a welcome accommodation and de-stressor for anybody who forgets. This is also a great opportunity to flaunt your company branding or embrace your corporate color scheme.
Ensure that you have ample storage to keep spare supplies organized. Concealed cabinets keep these items out of sight when not in use, though it may be harder for attendees to realize that they are available. This also leaves a lot of room to break from organizational standards, especially in rooms that have rotating instructors. When going with a bookshelf or other open-air storage, consider adding bins and baskets that provide a bit of visibility while also encouraging neatness.
If you are creating a tech-ready space, you may be providing laptops or tablets, which require specialized charging storage. There is no shortage of carts and charging stations that are designed for higher education or even K-12 environments, many of which are also suitable for workplace use. If there is a bring-your-own-device option, ensure that there are ample power sources throughout the room and consider investing in a few different common chargers for those who might lose power in the middle of a session.
Nourishing the body is a much-needed way to keep the mind sharp. Especially during long training sessions, nutrient-rich food and drinks are an amenity that can make a long day much more manageable. While it is uncommon to have a full kitchen available, there’s always a little extra love that comes with personally prepared foods, but store-bought alternatives are just as good.
? Simple Snacks
A well-stocked reserve of finger-friendly snacks can make a morning or afternoon easier for everyone. Still, it is human nature to avoid picking up a granola bar, package of crackers, or yogurt from a minifridge unless attendees are encouraged to grab something at any time.
? Lunch Time
If your session runs over the lunch hour, people will feel more favorable about educational events if they are provided something to eat. When you are ordering in, avoid fast food or fast casual restaurants and find someplace local that can supply sandwiches, salads or other lighter fare. Affordable catering options often feature a variety of choices that have something for everyone, all without dealing with the tedious process of personal orders.
? Beverages Matter
Staples of a beverage cart usually include a variety of sodas and a pot of coffee. While these mainstays are here to stay, adding soft seltzers, tea and access to plenty of water can provide a change of pace and encourage healthy decisions.
The intersection between the way we build out training spaces and the way they are used is easily attainable when taking a trainee-focused approach. These workspace wellness techniques are just the first step toward striking that delicate balance. After all, the more comfortable and supportive the training session, the more successful the outcome for individuals and teams.