One of the top statistics identified through the State of the Industry survey is that more than 50% of respondents don’t have a formal training program. Yet one of the keys to safe operations, successful service delivery and employee retention is proper training. Many companies reported offering some training but creating a formal training program ensures that it’s a company priority and not an “if we have time” afterthought.
Most business owners are concerned that training programs take too much time to create, will cost too much money to set up and administer or will not be effective. The reality is that creating and administering a training program can be as simple as curating resources already available to most businesses at little or no cost. In fact, there is more than enough time to create a training program in time for this winter with no financial investment. Here is the step-by-step guide.
Determine the training areas
Training needs will vary by company, but the high level categories should always apply. Training areas like safety, company procedures, equipment operation and maintenance, and customer service are universally applicable. The differences will come in the equipment, specific systems and company culture factors that are unique in each area. Consider the type of and make a list of training that should be delivered. This will serve as an outline for the training program.
Curate the content
When time is of the essence and a budget is nonexistent, creating custom training content is not an option. Fortunately, the majority of training needs can be met with content that is not only already created but is available for free or at very low cost. Tap professional organizations like SIMA, equipment manufacturers, governmental agencies and local suppliers as sources. For example:
- OSHA offers free safety training videos, handouts and guides online.
- Caterpillar has over 2,500 videos on YouTube covering equipment operation, maintenance and safety.
- Equipment manufacturers have representatives on staff to be experts and help with issues.
- SIMA provides a library of hundreds of articles related to the snow industry. SIMA members receive discounts in the Training Center, which has over 40 webinars available on demand, a customizable Safety Training Kit, Best Practices checklists, seven training DVDs and more.
Within a few minutes of searching online, there is already too much content to deliver. The most difficult part of building a training program quickly becomes not where to source content, but deciding which content to put aside for another time.
Invest in advanced training
Once the basics of training are covered, the question becomes how to meet snow-specific needs. The best options are the latest offerings from SIMA. A relatively small investment allows access to the Advanced Snow Manager (ASM) program, which is “immersive training for snow management and removal professionals in organizations of any size.” The program allows participants to complete training at their own pace through an interactive online portal covering plowing operations, sidewalk operations, ice management and core principles. The ASM program is so efficient and effective that many of the largest snow companies in the country utilize it as the basis for their managers’ technical training.
Deliver the training
Once you decide which content to offer, the challenge is delivering it consistently and effectively. Options range from weekend in-person events to self-study programs to online universities. One important aspect is to ensure that training is delivered the same way each time so that every team member is on the same page. The challenge is that this can become a significant time commitment for senior management.
To avoid creating a training program that will take too much effort to deliver, lean on content that can be delivered consistently by multiple people or self-taught by employees. Articles, videos, and interactive exercises that are well documented are good options. It may become necessary at some point in an organization’s growth to consider hiring trainers to share the workload.
Finally, consider the timing of the training. Some training should be offered preseason while other topics should be saved for or repeated throughout the season. Following a schedule will allow employees and supervisors alike to monitor progress. Completion of training activities should be tracked for accountability.
Building a training program may not require a significant investment of time or money, but it will absolutely require an intentional effort. Schedule time apart from the business of fall activities to reflect on what will be required and follow the checklist provided. Launching even a basic training program will allow employees to start adapting behavior and provide an opportunity to monitor, measure and improve for future years. There is no reason for formalized training to be the biggest deficit of any organization.
State of the Industry insights
- Formal training: 46%. Respondents who say they have a formal snow & ice management training program.
- Props to peers: 32%. Respondents who consider peer-to-peer training as the most valuable type of training. Storm ride-alongs finished second at 19% and videos were third at 14%.
Neal Glatt, CSP, ASM is account executive with Case Snow Management. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also is the chairperson for SIMA’s Education Committee.