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Emerging Options in Training for New Employees

The following is an abridged version of an article published in Roadrunner Magazine. To read the full version please click here or download the PDF attached.

Truly effective workplace training is tough to manage in even the best conditions. What are employers to do when hundreds of new employees need to learn about aspects of various jobs as they join the organization?

Successful training influences how an employee feels about their organization, how long they will stay, and how safe they will be on the job. It is critical to improving productivity, increasing morale, and creating a consistent standard of work.

Another major issue that comes up with training is budget. When the pandemic first hit, many employers stopped training altogether or cut back to the bare minimum. Smaller relatively remote municipalities for example have a challenge supplying training. Often a trainer will have to be flown in, or the trainees will have to be flown out in order to provide a learning experience. The expenses can quickly add up, especially with travel involved.

In B.C. online training opportunities are becoming more recognized as suitable for workplace environments. In the spring of 2021, the City of Surrey contacted Veronica Madore, Senior Associate at The W Group. Matt Brown, Streets Manager, Central and Traffic Operations, had envisioned an orientation program that was to be online for obvious reasons - COVID-19 had hit.

In partnership, The W Group and The City of Surrey, designed a customized online program consisting of a series of 15 self-directed courses. This series allows new staff to learn about the city’s workplace policies and practices related to engineering, small equipment operations, vehicle orientation, and personal and workplace health and safety.

In addition to courses originally developed for the City of Surrey, this orientation program included a seven-module course that was originally designed for the City of Coquitlam. Through a ‘Shared Municipal Resources Program’ offered by The W Group, where municipalities are able to share course content and mutually benefit, these modules became foundational for this new, comprehensive orientation training program.

The finished product is a customized, modular, self-guided program that new employees can complete from home or even on the go from their smartphone. It fulfils the need to train hundreds of workers regardless of job, throughout the city. Customized management reporting also allows supervisors to determine each worker’s status in the completion of the orientation program prior to their start date.

When various departments and municipalities work together, increased consistency and synergy can occur. E-Learning is not just an excellent alternative to in-person classes but it is a step forward in the evolution of training. Employers have an opportunity to show employees that they are willing to invest in their growth, regardless of position.

We cannot know with certainty how municipal training will look post-pandemic, but our guess is that E-Learning is here to stay!

Emerging Options in Training for New Public Works Employees
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