A little while back I opened my inbox to find an email with an attachment, the subject line read: “An open letter of apology”. Of course, this got my attention.
The letter began,
“December 17, 2013 began like any other day for DDR Propane and Equipment Rentals Ltd (DDR) and two of its workers, tasked with setting and lighting temporary gas-fired, infra-red heaters at a construction site. To our deepest regret, it did not end that way…”
The letter continued,
“Before the accident, we had operated DDR Propane and its predecessor companies for many years without a serious injury. Afterwards we asked ourselves: how could this have happened? We now know how. It happened because we followed longstanding standards and practices in the propane industry, believing we employed safe practices and had a long history of workplace safety.”
“Basically, we did what most other companies like us were doing. As DDR and the young worker have learned, doing what most other companies did at the time was not good enough. It was not safe and it did not prevent one of our workers from being seriously injured.”
What prompted this letter, you ask? I discovered that in addition to a monetary fine, the letter was part of a penalty DDR was ordered to pay as compensation from the lawsuit. Click here to read the full letter at twsolutions.ca/ddrletter.
So, we need to ask ourselves: are we safe or are we just lucky?
I often hear concerns related to the cost associated with training, particularly the downtime and loss of productivity while workers are in a classroom. I completely agree that, if approached carelessly or for the wrong reasons, training can easily become a money pit, providing little value. Some common missteps include training for the wrong reasons, subpar curriculum, poorly-skilled instructors, lack of support from senior management, or failure to achieve ‘buy-in’ from employees. Developing a skilled, competent workforce is one of the most important investments you can make in your business. It’s not easy nor is it cheap, but done right, the payback is significant. Additionally, these results can be easily measured in your team’s performance, productivity, and safety record.
How does your company’s commitment and financial contribution towards training compare to other components of your business, such as marketing, advertising, equipment, and capital investment? A highly skilled and motivated workforce should be one of your company’s most valuable assets.
This can be achieved by combining 3 important elements:
- Start at the top. Senior management and supervisors play a key role in creating a successful environment.
- Develop skilled/effective trainers. Start by selecting the right individuals. Next, invest in developing their training skills. Look at creating ‘training teams’ which can be very effective for any number of applications.
- Create dynamic training programs. Specifically tailored to your company, these can be delivered effectively and with purpose by skilled instructors.
Great training along with a strong corporate culture is key to:
- Effective knowledge transfer
- Employee retention
- Employee satisfaction and reduced turnover
- Increased productivity and performance
- A healthy and effective attitude towards safety in and outside the workplace
No other investment yields as great a return as an investment in the knowledge and skill development within your employees.