ICS Magazine

Establishing a Company Training Program

July 15, 2003

One very important, but often ignored, area of every company’s business plan is a formal orientation and training program for staff.

This program might be divided into three primary areas: new employee orientation to company policies; technical or procedural training in job skills; and on-going or continuing education to keep the employee up on the latest available information in the field.

New employee orientation generally includes:

  • Filing paperwork, including payroll and tax information, insurance registration and the like.
  • Becoming familiar with company policies such as dress code/uniform requirements, paid time off allowances, working hours, parking rules, payday schedules and other general rules that may apply.
  • Receiving an overall picture of the business, including services and/or products offered, is presented, along with a review of the company organizational chart outlining individual responsibilities. Ideally, a tour is conducted introducing the new team member to the rest of the staff.

    The orientation generally takes place on the first day the new employee reports for work, and is generally conducted by management level personnel. In large companies it may be under the supervision of the human resources manager, while in smaller companies it will likely be the owner or general manager. This orientation may take anywhere from a couple of hours to an entire day depending on the size of the company and the detail of the orientation.

    The orientation should be a formalized process with written steps to insure that nothing is omitted. To some this type of training may seem a waste of time, but experience tells us new employees need to know this information and, if it is not presented in a formalized, systematic training program, it will be obtained in other, less productive and possibly less accurate means, such as the old employee rumor mill.

    Procedural or technical training of specific job skills is accomplished in three phases:

  • Basic orientation to the job wherein the new employee receives a general overview of what his/her specific job entails. Often, this is a review of the company’s written job descriptions and procedure manuals for his/her specific position. This is generally conducted by the new employee’s immediate supervisor.
  • Formalized classroom training that covers all theoretical and advanced aspects of the technical job requirements. This could range from an in-house technical course to an IICRC training class for certification or both. Generally, this training will begin within a week of the new employee being hired and will be completed within the first 90 to 180 days of employment, depending on the availability of classes.
  • On-the-job practical training under the supervision of the supervisor or department head. There really is no substitute for actual hands-on applications of the procedures and techniques of a specific job. This part of the training generally starts the first day the new employee is in the field and generally lasts around 30 to 90 days, depending on the job and the employee.

    The three segments of the procedural and technical training are not necessarily sequential, and in fact usually overlap and run concurrently. The goal is for a new team member to complete all three phases of this training three to six months after being hired.

    The third part of a comprehensive training program is continuing education. This includes keeping abreast of the latest technical developments in the industry, taking refresher courses on technical aspects of the business, expanding product knowledge to related services and more.

    Continuing education programs can be maintained with weekly company training meetings; association- or supplier-sponsored workshops or clinics; IICRC-certification training; and industry conventions or seminars. Some larger companies bring in a qualified instructor from time to time for in-house seminars, while many smaller firms choose to send one or two people to outside seminars in order to pick up the latest on equipment, chemistry, or procedures. Continuing education should also include reading materials available from the industry trade press.

    A thorough and continuing company training program is an important component of every service company’s operations plan. New team members need to be properly trained in all aspects of their work. Continual, updated training is vital to keeping the service provided at the highest level possible. Never get to the point where you feel there is nothing more to learn. From the CEO on down, plan for training; don’t wait for it to happen by accident.