Despite advances in employee training over the past several years many landscapers still have a status quo approach to training. Rather than leveraging a comprehensive training system to achieve organizational goals, too many landscapers mistakenly believe that safety videos, tailgate sessions and occasional field training represent the full extent of what defines “training.”
As part of its strategic plan, a landscaping company should develop and maintain an annual training calendar containing the exact dates and times of all training events. For example, new employee orientation should be placed on the calendar for every Monday from 7 a.m. - noon, safety tailgate sessions should be placed on the calendar for every Tuesday from 6:30-6:45 a.m. and so on.
While this calendar is flexible, capable of accommodating new training sessions throughout the year, it provides a strategy necessary to track progress to the company’s plan.
All training events must be adequately documented. A make-shift employee sign-off sheet is insufficient documentation. The training topic, agenda, content, materials, date, time, length, attendees’ signatures, facilitator’s name and notes are valuable evidence supporting the company’s training efforts when challenged in a lawsuit.
Landscapers should track the amount of time and burden rate for all field employees who attend any training class in that those costs have significant impact on the company’s gross margin calculations.
Safety training must be packaged within the larger “safety culture.” All safety training should be tailored with the explicit goal of decreasing the company’s Experience Modification Rate.
In like fashion, it is strongly recommended that a company’s safety training require that all account managers be OSHA 10-hour certified.
Operations training must be focused on improving gross margin. While this training historically applied to equipment, hardscape, irrigation, or tree skills, it has now been extended to include customer relations management and landscape design software.
Accordingly, landscapers must adopt a three-tiered approach to operations training by ensuring: (1) all field employees receive fundamental equipment and functional skills training, (2) identifying key field employees to earn appropriate PLANET certifications and (3) increasing targeted employees’ technological skill sets to ensure gross margin is optimized.
Compliance training (e.g., sexual harassment, fire prevention) must satisfy local, state, and federal requirements. Training classes of this type must be delivered to all required employees as mandated by law, thereby preventing penalties from being incurred.
Managerial training (e.g., team building, conflict resolution, performance management) seeks to catalyze organizational success by enhancing leadership skills, insight and potential.
It is strongly recommended that all company executives and managers attend at least two professional development training sessions per year, and that all company executives serve as a professional mentor to no more than two high-potential employees.