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Can you afford not to train?

  • SIMA
- Posted: October 22, 2018
By Phil Harwood, CSP

“There’s too much turnover to make training worth it.”
“The snow and ice business is too seasonal to justify the cost of training.” 
“There’s not enough time during the hectic fall season for training.” 
“As soon as we train someone, they leave.”

How many times have you heard (or made) one of these complaints about training? All of these comments are true. The snow and ice management industry has high turnover. It is a seasonal business. Time pressures are real. Trained people will leave. These are some of the challenges that we face in our industry. 

Training requires an investment. It takes time, and there are real costs involved. So, why bother? What’s the return on investment (ROI)? 

When we look at the most successful companies in our industry, we see that they are fully committed to training at every level. Did they decide that training was important after they became successful and after they had the resources to make big investments in training? Or did they become successful because they invested in training and developing people along the way with whatever resources they had at the time? You know the answer.

The ROI of training
To determine the ROI of training, consider the benefits and compare them to the costs. How did the most successful companies that have paved the way in finding solutions to training challenges justify the investment? The benefits outweighed the costs. It’s that simple. There are many benefits to training. 

Reduce injury risk. At the most fundamental level, training a new person reduces risk. An untrained team member is a danger to himself or herself and everyone else around them - especially if they apply materials or operate equipment. Employee injuries from unsafe practices are common in our industry, resulting in higher workers’ compensation costs, lost days of work and employee turnover. Training focused on safe practices provides a tangible benefit to employers. 

Reduce damage. Equipment and/or property damage can also occur. Untrained employees cause the most damage of any employee group, regardless of how conscientious they may be. Damages require management time, reporting, downtime, repairs and insurance claims. If property damage occurs on a client’s property, it’s even worse. The benefits of training focused on how to properly handle materials and operate equipment are enormous. 

Reduce liability. Training reduces exposure to liability for slip and fall claims on two fronts. First, training focused on how to recognize and prevent dangerous conditions from persisting reduces the likelihood of a slip and fall. Second, a solid training program will allow you to be in a better position to defend against claims that arise. 

Improve efficiency. Another benefit is to improve operational efficiency. The difference between production output of a properly trained person versus that of an untrained person are dramatic. I’ve seen situations where the output has been 400% higher. Snow and ice management is a highly profitable business - if your people are efficient. 

Improve quality. Still another benefit of training is to improve quality, which directly impacts customer satisfaction and retention. During snow and ice events, clients are not very forgiving. Mistakes are amplified and may be catastrophic. I’ve seen more than a few major contracts lost over a single service failure. Unlike the summer season, when there are many opportunities to fix a problem, snow contractors have no such luxury. Each event could be their last. 

Improve employee engagement. A final benefit of training is the impact it has on the overall engagement level of your people. Companies committed to training and developing their people are the same companies that are concerned about employee satisfaction, creating long-term career paths, etc. 

No doubt, there are costs involved with training; however, the benefits far outweighs the costs. The ROI is there, and that is exactly why the most successful companies commit to comprehensive training and employee development programs. Winners train to win. 
2018 State of the Industry survey results
  • 40% = Respondents who said the biggest barrier to training is time.
Training Topics Graphic

Top 5 injury_graphic

Phil Harwood, CSP, is managing partner of GrowTheBench and a member of the Snow Business Editorial Advisory Committee. Contact him at 
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