Every new project has a learning curve – and every existing job evolves over time. Consistent learning and training helps the front-line workers build their skills, and ensures that your team is growing with their roles rather than remaining stagnant.
While there have been improvements with the commitment to training among corporate and project leads, engaging front-line workers in training continues to be a challenge.
So, how do you get that essential training done in the Fall and Winter – and take advantage of what is traditionally a slow period for many construction companies?
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that the front-line workers don’t want to participate in training,” said Ben Ross, Customer Success Manager for MindForge, LLC. “People want to have the opportunity to grow and build their strengths.”
People want to have the opportunity to grow and build their strengths
The Work Institute found that a lack of career development is among the top three reasons that people leave their jobs.
“It’s clear that employers must create effective training opportunities for their front-line workforce to learn and develop their skills,” said Ross. “The challenge is finding the time – and allowing your team to carve that space out for them to invest that time.”
The strategies used to train your front-line workforce affects how effective that training is. These strategies can help employees become more educated while staying engaged and motivated throughout the process and empower them to complete those training deadlines.
Keep an eye on the calendar – and the weather report. As weather changes and work slows, it is a good time to focus on training.
“If you see that the weather forecast is looking iffy, that’s a good time to prepare to deliver training,” said Ross.
Make a company commitment to training – and share that messaging widely
“Ensuring that you have a well educated workforce leads to improved quality of work, better productivity and a safer environment where people aren’t getting hurt,” said Ross. “Sometimes the front line team worries that by participating in training that their supervisor will see them as being away from the project. But in reality, this is essential work.”
Ross also emphasized that in many cases, training is required – and can potentially result in corporate liability and risk if not accomplished.
“Compliance issues continue to be a huge reason to do training,” he said. “There are regulations – OSHA or insurance regulations – that require training and have specific regulations as to how often that training needs to occur and how. Corporations need to highlight the opportunities to do these trainings and share the potential impacts of not getting it done.”
Set employee expectations
Poor communication limits an employee’s ability to perform at full capacity. One of the best strategies for training is to set employee expectations and clearly communicate them to the employee. Setting expectations means you and your employees will be on the same page. It also gives the employee a chance to ask any clarifying questions. Immediate open dialogue not only informs the employee about expectations and the process, but it also sets the tone for future learning and workplace interactions.
“This also includes any consequences for not getting any required training done,” said Ross. “Make those expectations clear and have them posted – including deadlines and information on how to access that training – somewhere they can easily be accessed.”
Offer microlearning initiatives
Increasingly busy schedules and decreasing attention spans make it harder to find the time for learning and enrichment in the workplace. That’s why microlearning – short and focused initiatives broken down into shorter segments – has become so popular in the modern workforce.
“These types of learning opportunities are best applied to informal, simpler training needs rather than complex skill sets,” said Ross.
Offer video training
Training that includes videos are increasingly popular among younger generations. The LinkedIn Learning Workplace Learning Report of 2021 found that professionals aged 40 and younger watched 50 percent more hours per learner of learning content in 2020 versus 2019.
“What’s especially great about this type of training is that employees can also refer back to their sessions,” said Ross. “That’s where MindForge comes in – workers can refer to a training library anytime they need a refresher.”
Offer e-learning opportunities
With tight schedules and multiple projects running, construction firms no longer have the luxury of pulling their front line work force into the office for training. E-learning opportunities are a great way to make learning more accessible to your employees. These allow them to learn from any location, which is especially useful if you have a remote or hybrid workforce as so many construction companies experience.
The MindForge platform is ideal for this strategy, allowing for front-line employees to access training opportunities right from their mobile devices.
“Being able to deliver the content your team needs at the moment they need it is transformative and empowering,” said Ross.
Being able to deliver the content your team needs at the moment they need it is transformative and empowering.
And, for professionals responsible for training oversight, MindForge’s platform features allowing for simple tracking of compliance by project, individual team members or deadline makes the process more efficient and effective.
“It can be a nightmare to manage multiple jobsite training needs,” said Ross. “If you are a leader responsible for the professional development of several hundred employees, you want to make sure you have a strong strategy. You will have to coordinate with superintendents, get a sense of when team members are working on what site, it’s tough. And tracking on a spreadsheet is time intensive. But with MindForge, we make it significantly easier. You can assign training courses to specific team members based on function or job site, see where a team member is in terms of completion rates and follow up if needed – it really is a game changer.”