Spring Training: Team Sanitation

Spring Training: Team Sanitation
Companies that are best positioned for the future and for success are those that invest in training that is aligned with strategic priorities and effectively blended with on-the-job instruction. (Photo courtesy of Beverly Lewis)

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Spring has sprung! For most in the portable sanitation business, warmer weather creates an increased demand for services such as sporting events, BBQs, festivals and construction get underway. More business equals more deliveries, which requires more trained and ready labor on the team. Yet, spring training this year may require a new game plan. 

When was the last time your organization updated your training process? Today’s workplace changes rapidly and is highly competitive. Organizations that are able to recognize potential challenges and develop a safe, efficient and capable workforce will be successful in this environment. The two major challenges that lie ahead are the aging workforce and a labor pool that is both shrinking and diversifying.

Shifting workforce

The demographics of the workforce are shifting. Older workers work longer than they did 20 years ago, but declining population growth rates mean that the labor pool doesn’t replenish as quickly as it used to. It is estimated that 10,000 people retire every day, and for every 10 that retire, only five to seven people are available to replace them. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a decline in labor force growth rates through 2030. 

With fewer candidates to choose from, competition for labor will increase. What is more, the labor force is younger and more ethnically diverse than ever before. According to Socialnomics.net, 52 percent of the world’s population is 30 years old or younger. The Census Bureau reported that, “Generation-Y outnumbered Baby Boomers as of July 2010.” In addition, Hispanics and Asians are expected to become a larger share of the working-age population in the U.S. by 2020. 

The mindset of the workforce is also in flux. Fewer employees spend their entire career with one company. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average employee will have 14 jobs by the age of 38. What does the transient nature of the modern labor pool mean for your business? When you look to the labor market to hire employees, you have fewer options. In addition, fewer seasoned veterans remain in your company to train new hires. By the time you do train someone to do the job, he or she is ready to move on. The investment you made in training has been lost, and the continuity of your business is at stake with every replacement. 

Proactive training increases employee retention

The good news is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 30 percent greater demand for truck operators in the portable sanitation industry. 

Employment Matrix(Bureau of Labor Statistics - National Employment Matrix 2010-2020)

But companies must be proactive in preparing to meet this increased demand for trainable, skilled workers given the current labor situation. Specifically, they need to get workers hired and up to speed quickly. Younger generations do not learn the same way as Baby Boomers did. Some may still prefer hands-on training, while others like mobile or digital options.

Employee training videos are an efficient alternative to traditional training methods. Training consistency is improved, and labor hours spent training new employees are reduced. In addition, video training can compliment ongoing educational and safety requirements on a more flexible schedule. Younger generations have become accustomed to using technology so this is a training method that they understand. An additional benefit is that training videos can be translated into other languages, thereby helping to bridge potential language barriers in the learning process. 

Smartphones are the future of communication, and the tool to help you with retention, recruiting, productivity and training. If you want to retain young employees, you have to put something in their hands that helps them communicate and operate in the manner to which they have become accustomed. In addition, this device can serve as a tracking tool for operations to monitor the location of a driver in route, to document services with pinpoint tracking, track reliability and improve productivity. 

Difficult placement details can be eased with GPS pinpointing, maps and placement instructions, and reference photos or video for job-specific requirements. Translation apps, such as Google Translate, available on most smartphones can help bridge language barriers within the new workforce. With the addition of credit card processing through smartphones, you can eliminate the collection of cash or checks on a delivery site and create more accurate tracking and accountability. While a smartphone is a beneficial tool during the workday, for safety reasons your company should have a strict policy prohibiting smartphone use while a vehicle is in motion.* 

Technology boosts training

Combine these two powerful technologies for an ongoing training strategy that relies upon short videos, trivia-style questions or questions that require interactive responses. For example, in preparation for winter weather, drivers would be required to review cold-specific procedures and brush up on their skills via a brief video and quiz before jumping into the truck and battling freezing temperatures. 

Ongoing e-learning could be incentivized with recognition awards or employee bonuses. It is easily tracked and monitored. Corporate e-learning company, Axonify, claims that its cloud-based learning software has the ability to spot an employee’s weak areas and personalizes future training accordingly. 

In today’s rapidly changing environment, the need for skilled talent is greater than ever. Innovative digital training reduces costs, improves consistency of details and procedures, and is in a format younger workers relate to. Companies that are best positioned for the future and for success are those that invest in training that is aligned with strategic priorities and effectively blended with on-the-job instruction. 

About the Author
Beverly Lewis runs a marketing agency, the Beverly Lewis Group, dedicated to helping small businesses with marketing solutions. Having served as the director of sales & marketing for two portable sanitation companies, her unique background combined with an expertise in marketing is well suited for the portable sanitation industry. She believes that a company’s image is represented in every aspect of the company. She is an active member of the PSAI and was awarded the distinguished Sani-Award in 2008 for outstanding service. Contact Beverly at beverly@beverlylewisgroup.com or visit www.beverlylewisgroup.com.

* The U.S. Department of Transportation final ruling (FMCSA 35-11) prohibits commercial drivers from using a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a commercial truck.


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