5 Tips for Training New Construction Employees

Published May 6, 2015 by Whirlwind Team

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Let's be honest here; training new employees is a pain in the girts. It's time-consuming, requires the patience of a saint and can slooooooow the working process considerably - which isn't ideal for construction projects dependent on a timeline. On the flip side, not taking the time to adequately train your company's new hires is a huge mistake.

In the best case scenarios, you wind up with minimally trained employees who can't perform up to the company's expectations through no fault of their own. In the worse cases, poorly trained construction personnel can be responsible for serious safety issues or poor workmanship that results in expensive repairs, warranty work and the potential erosion of your reputation.

5 Tips For Training Efficient, Reliable and Loyal Construction Employees

Thus, taking time to thoroughly train new construction hires is good investment on your part. At the very least, they'll do things "your way," and odds are you'll benefit from long-term employee loyalty because they will value the time and energy you've spent teaching valuable skill sets that will serve them for the rest of their lives.

  1. Understand who you are training and what they are training for. Each trainee comes to you with a different set of challenges. Some have zero construction experience and look at you with a blank stare when asked to don a nail bag ("Nail bag? What nail bag? Don't you guys supply the tools?"). Others come with a wealth of experience from other companies, all very contrary to the way your company does things. Some speak English but have egos the size of South America. Others speak a foreign language but have a quiet diligence, persistence and eagerness to learn that makes you wish you'd paid closer attention in your high school Spanish class. Point being, each person is different, so knowing what your training challenges are and being prepared - and equipped - for those will lubricate the training process and make your job must less frustrating.
  2. Include safety training from the get-go. Safety training should be implemented into every aspect of skill set and job training. Failure to do so puts your new employee, yourself and the rest of your employees at risk. Also, you never know when your job site will be the target of an unannounced OSHA safety inspection. By incorporating safety into your employee training, you reduce the chances of having a red flag thrown up when your new employee is doing something in direct opposition to OSHA safety laws. Consider sending new hires to a local OSHA safety seminar, or host a similar version of your own, to cover your bases and expose them to a general safety overview. This will also set the tone that your company has a Safety First mentality, creating an impression that lasts. Consult this article on Construction Safety Training for more ideas on how to implement new hire safety training at your company.
  3. Think visuals, variety and variation. Everyone learns differently, but most people benefit from a wealth of visual aids. Show pictures, videos and graphics of the concepts you want to communicate, whether it be as simple as identifying tools and how to use them or complex trade-specific techniques. In addition to visuals, use a variety of other teaching techniques, including written handouts and booklets that can be reviewed at the employee's leisure, lots of hands-on training and verbal instruction. Finally, vary the topics you cover each day. As ecmweb.com points out, "...you'll do better to spread all five topics, a little at a time, across five days, rather than covering a full topic each day." This teaching method enhances retention and prevents the brain from burning out. Also, consider getting your vendors on board. Many vendors offer no-cost, short training seminars that will free you up and give your trainee a fresh perspective.
  4. Consider implementing the buddy method. Pairing a new hire with one of your patient, tried-and-true employees who follows company policies and procedures is the best way to ensure the skills and methods introduced during the initial one- or two-week introductory period are carried out for a longer period of time, thereby creating better habits. Then, turn those trainee-turned-experts into buddies and trainers so they continually enforce what they've learned by sharing the information with others.
  5. Treat everyone equally and patiently. It's difficult to not let personal bias affect the way you speak to and treat those around you. However, as a trainer, it's imperative that you find a way to step back, be objective and give everyone equal benefit of the doubt. Cultivate patience, even if that means having to chew a toothpick to shreds as you provide an answer for the 200th time. Remember that we all had to start somewhere.

Contact Whirlwind to discuss metal building construction training for your crew.


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