Building a Professional, In-House, Training Program

Group Of Students Listening Female Teacher Training Presentation Professional training program

Why?

Perhaps the major reason for creating a professional training program is a legal one, i.e. to protect your company from “running afoul” of its many legal requirements and to avoid litigation.

Since 2013 when OSHA began the TWI or “Temporary Worker Initiative” federal law (and state law soon followed) began holding both staffing companies and their clients jointly responsible for compliance issues as “joint employers”.

Thus, staffing companies are now required to provide training and awareness of hazardous working conditions and how to deal with them (OSHA, etc).The same is true of other compliance issues required by local, state, and federal regulatory agencies.

For further discussion see another article

So, although the major reason for developing a professional training program may be legal, it is a good idea to make a list of all the other important reasons for doing so. Motivation is important, but fear of fines and penalties is only a negative motivation. There are also very positive reasons for building a professional, in-house training program. My list would include the following:

 

Professionalism Employee Retention
Credibility Loss Protection
Sales Profitability
Reputation Staff Development
Client Retention

It is not be my intent here to discuss each of these but simply to list them for your consideration.

  1. Choosing a Space
    If possible, a space for training purposes should be a single purpose, dedicated area with everything set up and available to begin a session. Training is ongoing and frequent.

Without disturbing this dedicated area, it can also be available for prospective employee interviews or private meetings with staff or clients. Clients and prospective employees should be impressed by the professionalism this space reflects and therefore your commitment to competent training.

It need not be elaborate but well organized, clean, reasonably comfortable, and uncluttered with limited distractions.  Table and chair settings should be flexible allowing a classroom setting or a square layout that facilitates group discussion.

Appropriate décor should include basics like soft and inviting wall colors, window treatments, floor coverings, a framed picture or two and a couple of attractive artificial or live indoor plants.

Keep in mind that this area may be used for some of the required wall postings that are required by regulatory agencies, (Labor Departments, OSHA, EEOC, etc.). If these are to go up in this area, make sure they are neatly framed on cork background or other suitable posting material.

A “floating” space, meaning whatever can be arranged or set up as the need arises, is the least acceptable as a training area. Your staff should not be running around trying to pull together a space, the furnishings and equipment, as trainees wait around or try to “help out”. Also, you have nothing to show your clients on how training at your company is accomplished.

An “off-site space” might offer a good alternative if your office area is just too small. Many hotels have various size spaces that are well equipped and suited for training sessions. The cost is not great. Other businesses and restaurants offer suitable spaces for training.

  1. Audio Visual Training Equipment
    Equipping a training area need not be very expensive. Today you can get good 55-inch flat screen TV for about $300. A swivel wall mount for a large TV monitor can be purchased for less than $125 and mounting it, perhaps another hundred.

A good DVD player can be purchased for under $100. Good easels are not expensive but beware of the paper you hang from it (outrageous!). Whiteboards are a better alternative and come in many sizes and mounting options. Some companies like to have a paper trail of their meetings or, at least, certain parts of them.

Neat, folding 6- or 8-foot plastic tables and chairs are also readily available at reasonable prices. They are easy to clean and come in a variety of styles and colors.

Projectors and screens can get costly but there very good ones that can be purchased for under $200 and screens for under $50.

  1. Regulatory Training Materials
    The US Government offers a wide variety of training materials that are industry specific and at very reasonable pricing. For example, look at some excellent basic materials that OSHA offers on safety for the Construction and General Industry areas.

You can also search YouTube for videos on just about anything but be careful of the sources. There is a lot of junk out there.

Don’t forget the materials you create yourself for your own company. For example, when you set up a client account or even a job order you should see the location and take pictures of areas of hazard, what safety equipment is required, who the contact person is that knows the hazard well and how your people can stay safe. Then make your employees aware of the situation, the pictures, and the contact person on the job. Then document! (see below)

If you are training your own staff and need some advice on EEOC hiring regulations like “What you can ask” “What you cannot ask”, etc. there are some good videos available from that agency at:

https://www.eeoc.gov/employers/smallbusiness/videos.cfm

If you need official IRS information on the “critical” difference between an independent contractor and an employee, you can go to their website.

It takes a while to learn how to search these huge websites, but it will get easier. Be sure and bookmark your sources and make written notes on these sources, materials available, prices, etc.

Building a professional, in-house training program is a process and in a very short time you will have a library of materials that were either free or available at a reasonable cost.

  1. Documentation
    All your training needs to be documented. That means signed documents by your employees attesting to the fact that they have received the specific training needed.

Also, the documentation needs to include an acknowledgement that they have been made aware of any known hazards on the job site and, also, who the on-site contact person is that can guide them on any safety issues.

Some staffing software programs have an “Onboarding” feature (our “TempsPlus” has it) that allows electronic signing and storing of key documents and these become part of the employees’ permanent file. Later training acknowledgements can easily be made part of their file.

It does not need any explanation as to why these documents may be important in any future incident. Training that is not documented can suffer the credible claim that it might never have occurred.

A professional in-house training program can also do much more than save your company from possible enforcement actions or lawsuits in the future. Such a program presents not just a future or possible benefit but a daily one.

Every day it will present a company that its management can be proud of and confident in presenting to existing and potential clients and future employees. It can be a significant factor in securing and retaining them both.