This is the third and final installment of a blog series discussing what employers can provide to make sure technicians have everything they need to succeed. This post will explore continuing education and training for employees.
I will reiterate that my #1 priority on what the employer must always provide for the employee is a safe working environment and a critical component of that is making sure that technicians are well versed in how to keep themselves, their coworkers, and your customers safe when a job is being done.
Part one of the blog, What Should The Company Provide for Technicians?, focused on how to make sure your team has the tools they need to succeed. Quick recap: when considering what safety equipment, tools, transportation, and apparel your company should provide or require employees to provide, employers need to find a balance that works for their business and their technicians.
The second topic in the series addressed the technology that employees rely on in the field. This post dug into how companies manage electronic devices and the pros and cons of providing technicians with a company device or allowing company data to be stored on personal devices.
Benefits Of More Education
Ongoing education is about more than just developing a more educated workforce; it can improve the overall quality of work and enhance the employee experience. As new technologies or new processes come out, your company and employees should be able to adapt with the times. Providing employees with training opportunities not only helps them stay relevant, but shows them that you see them as a valuable investment in the future of your business.
Lastly, offering education gives your employees opportunities for development, which is something younger techs want from their jobs. This can help your business attract new technicians who value learning and improving their skill set.
Teaching your technicians better customer service, sales, or organizational skills could improve your job tickets an ultimately raise your bottom line. Whereas cross-training technicians could expand the services your company is able to offer to customers. Your approach to education may depend on the skills you wish to impart and the needs of your business, but offering training opportunities in some capacity is a sure way to enhance the health of your enterprise.
How to Give Education
Provide in-house education
Offering training on-site helps employers track employee attendance and monitor the quality of the training being provided. It can also be more convenient for employees to attend because they’re likely used to reporting to the home office on a regular basis.
In-house training is best suited to businesses with a large employee base, where technicians are onboarded or re-trained in groups or at regular intervals. One strategy is to bring in outside educators to provide industry-based safety or skills training to new technicians or all of your technicians at one time.
Another cost-effective training initiative that could strengthen your team would be to host quarterly training sessions at your facility led by your more senior employees, members from local trade unions, or other industry veterans. Inviting technicians to share their experiences in a group setting will benefit your team by creating a mutual understanding of the joys and struggles of the profession, while helping employees to learn from the experiences of others.
Pay for outside education
Another option is to send employees to outside trainings or requiring certifications could be a viable option. Employers should develop a list of approved or required certifications they want their employees to receive, and have a clause for “case-by-case” situations for certifications that are not on the approved or required list. With this option, you will want to have clearly defined expectations for how many times you will pay for an employee to try for a certification exam before the company is no longer expected to pay.
Another option is to pay for classes, then have your technician pay for any certification exams at the end of the course. Again, you will want a list of classes approved by the company to take, and clear expectations of what will happen if an employee does not pass.
Employers may be obligated to cover the costs of transportation or lodging, depending on the distance employees have to travel to access training, so that should be considered when weighing the costs and benefits of outsourcing your training needs.
Another way you can support ongoing education is to offer different incentives to those employees who decide to take their skill development a step further. You don’t pay for any classes or certifications directly, but once a certain level of education is achieved, the skill achievement is reflected in a compensation increase. Producing a document clearly showing X certification has a Y amount of increase in base pay. This allows the employees to learn at their own pace, and places the burden to pass the exams on them and their desire to increase their salary.
Continuing education is a great asset to your team, whether you are planning in-house trainings, or supporting your employees to take classes with incentive programs. Before finding a continuing education program that works for you and your employees, make sure to consult with your HR department and/or your accountant. Some training programs can be subsidized or tax deductible, so you should take advantage of any opportunities to make sure you are forming the best program for your team. At the end of the day, it’s the responsibility of all employers to make sure that their technicians have the training they need to be safe and effective in the field, but developing skills above and beyond the industry standard will go a long way towards keeping your employees and your customers happy.