If your pest control company lacks a formal and replicable training program, you could be asking for trouble. For example, the standard practice of sending new employees out to shadow an experienced member of the team might not be the best strategy all the time.
While field-based training has value and is important, relying solely on this can lead to inconsistency and place unneeded stress on the managers — who already have a full list of tasks — completing the training. Creating and implementing an employee training program can help with gaining consistency, increasing productivity, increasing employee retention and increasing the profitability of a company.
CREATING A PLAN. The first step in creating an effective training program is establishing the vision and goals that the plan is going to serve. Discuss and decide what the intent of the training program is and what a properly trained employee looks like, and then build the program to serve whatever the final vision may be. A schedule should be built that outlines the topics covered, types of content offered and timelines. Have points within the schedule where progress will be measured so both instructor and student can be evaluated. Several different factors should be taken into account.
- Experience Level: Classes offered to new hires should be different than those offered to experienced employees.
- Season: Plans should take seasonality into account and initially train on the most relevant pests.
- Generations: While a blended training option should be offered to all employees, if a position is being filled by someone of a particular generation, offerings should be sensitive to the style of content that resonates best with that particular person.
When considering new hire training, create reasonable expectations and timelines as most new hires are absorbing content from all directions and could be overwhelmed.
With technicians and beyond, consider providing initial training on seasonally relevant pests and growing their knowledge base over time. This will provide the technician with an instantly applicable knowledge base and make them field-ready in a short amount of time. Then look to build upon their knowledge base after a few months of on-the-job experience.
It can also help you begin evaluating the new employee and ensure that they are the right fit. This prevents wasting time and money in training employees that aren’t a fit.
Provide more experienced employees with opportunities to grow with educational offerings on new topics or advanced level training to enrich their job experience and increase retention.
When elevating an employee to a managerial position, provide training on how to manage effectively, including delegating tasks and elevating team members. Managing people is a very different skill set.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. Younger generations consume content differently than their older counterparts. The first step in deciding what forms of content to deliver to your employees may be to conduct a generational evaluation of your employee base.
The pest control industry is no stranger to hourslong lectures, but a millennial or Generation Z employee may be best served by more bite-size educational information on platforms such as YouTube.
Employees over 50 may still prefer written content that they can consume during spare time on the job or after hours.
Offering blended content will help ensure that all generations are being presented with comfortable training options, thus leading to a higher rate of retained information.
Consider a digital platform to effectively deliver the content so that you can also track what training has been provided to individual employees. Platforms such as Gnowbe provide the opportunity to deliver micro-content of all forms (videos that are three to five minutes long, questionnaires, etc.) to all employees in an efficient fashion.
There are many different learning management systems (LMS) that can do everything from delivering basic content, creating training contests within companies and tracking what training has been consumed. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Many systems require significant back end time to upload content and manage registrations. Be sure to research any LMS you are considering and carefully select the right platform for the size and capabilities of your company.
REINFORCEMENT. The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve states that when we are taught something new, we forget 66 percent of what we are taught within only one day, and only 15 percent of what is originally learned is permanently stored.
While the study was published more than 100 years ago and the validity of the data has been debated in many forums, the overarching message has been widely accepted. If we do not reinforce what we are originally taught, we will inevitably forget most of the information.
The first step in building a plan to reinforce training content is developing the content itself. Material can be as simple as one short video, paragraphs of written content that can be read within five minutes or even interactive games that highlight specific content.
The goal is to remind the learner of the important points of training and begin to create meaningful connections with the content. Reinforcement should also include live training where topics can be built upon through demonstration. Creating context for the content forms the backbone of successful training programs.
But all of that can be lost without a consistent schedule. While many organizations allow their employees to consume the content on their own schedules, employees often fail to create a routine and thus struggle to consistently complete tasks in that scenario.
A better option is to force employees to create a daily routine of consuming the content at the same time every day. While they may struggle at first, the routine will be adopted over time and become a replicable process within the course of their workday.
In the end, the goal of any training program should be to create a strong knowledge base for all employees while gaining consistency within an organization. Whether it’s customer service, sales or a technical team, consistency leads to more marketable services, increased employee retention, improved service delivery and an increase in the bottom line.