Companies and municipal agencies often question the value of offering training to employees. Developing (or purchasing) and delivering educational programs and materials can be time consuming and costly. Plus, taking employees away from their everyday tasks for learning opportunities can seem like a drain on an organization’s resources.
However, employee training shouldn’t be thought of as a “drain.” Instead, consider it an investment that will pay off many times over for the people who work for you and your organization.
Benefits of employee training
An investment in an education program pays off in three key ways:
#1 – Knowledge and efficiency. Workers who know what they’re doing and leverage best practices when doing their jobs are more productive. This lets your business or agency accomplish more with fewer employees, making it a more efficient and competitive enterprise. Training programs often allow companies to cut head count or take on more projects with the same number of workers.
Added benefit: Employee education sessions often provide opportunities to brainstorm and come up with new ways to work better. It’s one of the few chances people have to step away from their everyday tasks and think about how they do what they do.
Tip: Some firms believe new hire orientation programs have little or no value and prefer to get people working right away. Studies show that new employee training pays for itself because it makes workers far more productive once they’re on the job site. They know what’s expected of them, where to find tools and equipment, how to work safely, and whom to turn to in order to get answers to common questions. This avoids having them waste time trying to figure these things out on their own.
#2 – Safety. It’s important for people doing bridge inspection, maintenance, and construction work to know how to do it safely. Accidents often lead to injuries and even death. They can also have a significant economic impact on a company or government agency, taking experienced employees out of commission and increasing insurance rates. At the extreme, legal fees and settlement payouts related to lawsuits can greatly cost a company or government agency.
Remember: Safety training isn’t once and done. People need to be reminded of best practices on a regular basis. A good benchmark is to cover some aspect of on-the-job safety in staff meetings at least once or twice a month. This level of frequency is needed to make it clear that you’re committed to this critical issue. (Some of this content can include the required OSHA training covered in the next section.)
#3 – Positive feelings. In today’s highly competitive job market, most companies are looking for an edge to attract and retain the best employees. A formal training program can do just that. It’s a signal to prospective employees that your company is a solid one that believes in doing things right by providing its workers with top-notch training. Current employees will be less likely to check out the competition if they feel they’re staying up to date on best practices related to doing their jobs.
Types of employee training
Worker education can take on many forms. Here are a few of the most common:
New hire orientation
At its most basic, new employee training should provide your workers with all the information needed to do their jobs safely and effectively. This generally includes components that explain safety standards, where to access tools, supplies, and equipment, how to handle timekeeping, appropriate ways to communicate and share information on the job, reporting channels, an employee benefits overview, and more.
A good program will also provide support to help new workers fill out paperwork associated with insurance and retirement plans. This is a task people don’t do every day, and guidance will help them feel more confident about signing up for the valuable benefits you offer.
Top orientation programs also cover “softer” topics about the company or agency, such as its values, products and services offered, competitive position, and policies and culture. This information will help new people feel more confident about their decision to work for you.
Best practice: Leverage orientation to set expectations and provide clear information about issues that could create risk for your organization, including things like sexual harassment and ethical business practices. Provide guidance around things that can cause serious on-the-job conflict and lead to lawsuits. Some states, including California, Connecticut, and Maine, mandate workplace harassment training. Your legal counsel can advise you on what types of training are required in your local area.
Your workers are only as good as the people who oversee them. It’s important to offer ongoing education to your management team on topics related to getting the best performance out of the people who report to them. This should include things like how to communicate effectively, manage conflict, motivate workers, and recognize and reward performance aligned with organizational goals.
Remember: Train managers on how to deliver corporate messages to rank-and-file employees as intended. Ineffective or inaccurate messaging often leads to mistakes on job sites and employee dissatisfaction.
Tip: Educating managers doesn’t have to be time consuming. Many firms include this content as part of regular employee meetings. Another option is to offer online training that managers can do when it’s convenient for them.
Did you know? OSHA doesn’t just provide training for workers on construction sites? They also offer courses designed for administrators as well. Check out the Posting of Notice and Injury and Illness Recordkeeping options they have available.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has clear rules about the health and safety training that employers are required to provide to their employees. In some cases, workers are only allowed to perform certain functions if they’re OSHA certified to do them.
While many employers think these training regulations are costly and cumbersome, they are designed to keep workers safe and healthy over the long term. Employees who feel safe and healthy will be more productive on the job site, which adds dollars to a firm’s bottom line.
OSHA provides a complete listing of general and construction industry training requirements on their website. Many firms work with a specialized legal counsel and an OSHA training expert to develop and implement a compliant required trading program. OSHA also offers online training programs and videos that are a good option for smaller firms or those with multiple locations or employees on different job sites.
Don’t stop there: Even the most experienced employees pick up sloppy, ineffective, and unsafe work habits over time. Use regular employee training to make people aware of the things they’re doing incorrectly and provide information on how to improve their work habits. Interactive quizzes delivered online can be a good way to do this. They’re an engaging way for people to come to their own conclusions that they’re making mistakes on the job. Self-discovery is generally the best way to learn.
Did you know? OSHA offers a video training program that covers topics related to safely using and working around aerial lifts, similar to those supplied by Bridgemasters? The package includes leader guides, quizzes, and certification materials.
Still not convinced?
Experts have proven that a commitment to employee education pays off for companies and agencies in countless ways:
- Enhanced job satisfaction.
- Improved employee morale.
- Higher employee motivation.
- Increased efficiency.
- Dollars added to the bottom line.
- Improved ability to adopt new technologies and work methods.
- Greater innovation.
- Lower employee turnover.
- Enhanced company image.
- Reduced risk.
Based on this, isn’t it time for your organization to invest in an employee training program?