The water systems industry is full of stories about successful drillers who started out 30, 40, 50 or even 80 years ago as one-man operations and expanded in services and in numbers as succeeding generations joined the family business.
Business owners quickly realized the value of investing in new technology and equipment as a way to expand their offerings in the residential and commercial water well drilling fields. Working with highly specialized pumps and drilling products necessitates additional education and training — an investment owners know will benefit their customers and their businesses.
Today, even more companies have begun to recognize that their employees, whether hourly or salaried, benefit immensely from participating in supplemental education opportunities. As you consider increasing your team’s industry knowledge, it’s important to know what educational options exist and how ongoing training positively impacts employees, employers and customers. Below are four reasons why it’s worth the investment.
Employees Value New Opportunities
A common industry assumption is that once employees are fully trained, they are more likely to leave a company in pursuit of other opportunities. However, in my experience, this is frequently not the case. Drillers, contractors and installers, especially emerging professionals, want to learn while they work.
When employers give their employees opportunities to enhance their education, they will find their team is happier and often more loyal. By offering training opportunities, with the understanding that your employees want to participate, you will attract and keep top-notch employees who are seeking to further enhance their skills and expertise.
Continuing education is also a certification requirement for many industry professionals. Most states require drillers, installers and contractors to participate in auxiliary education courses to maintain their licenses.
I have worked at Xylem for nearly 28 years, and one of the main reasons I’ve stayed with the company is because my superiors have encouraged, and continue to encourage, me to participate in training and development opportunities. In fact, ongoing education has consistently been a significant part of my job. Not only does this make me feel valued, it has also urged me to continue to seek growth opportunities within the company.
Training Helps Shape Promotable Employees
Many employers make it a priority to promote from within. This is a particularly good idea because current employees have a keen understanding of your day-to-day business and have established strong relationships with customers.
However, when there is an opening to fill, there’s not always a guarantee that an employee is ready to take on the role. For this reason, it’s important to consistently train all employees so they are prepared to accept and be successful in positions of increasing responsibility.
I recommend that managers/supervisors identify employees’ strengths and weaknesses, and then select appropriate training opportunities to enhance their expertise and deepen their skillsets.
It Prevents Employee Burnout
We work in an industry where around-the-clock customer service is the norm and, as technology continues to advance, new, smarter products are constantly being introduced to the marketplace. With so much happening simultaneously, it can be hard to imagine a time when your team isn’t engaged in solving a water challenge or learning how to properly install and service a newly launched product.
As such, managers/supervisors must find time to regularly check in with their team to make sure they are engaged. Employee development is an effective way to keep your employees interested at work to prevent boredom or burnout. I recommend hosting a lunch and learn or sending team members to an industry conference. Not only will employees benefit from the educational aspects, they will widen their professional network.
Companies Can Stay Abreast of New Opportunities
Since employee development is ongoing, companies will have to consistently look ahead and keep a pulse on industry and educational advancements. It’s important to remember the training that worked last year may not be the most effective way to educate employees this year.
Dedicate time each quarter to research training trends and identify new and exciting ways for employees to learn. Some key considerations include:
- In-person training seminars: Often only a few days long, hands-on training seminars are a great way for employees to learn about the latest advancements in residential applications. During in-person training, students participate in interactive, working demonstrations of pumps and controls to learn about product installations and gain valuable troubleshooting skills.
- Virtual education: A newer training option, virtual seminars enable employees to increase their industry knowledge at their own pace. Online training seminars contain videos and other interactive online resources that demonstrate how to properly install and troubleshoot pump systems.
- Trade shows: By walking around the trade show floor, professionals can learn a lot about the water well industry. From seeing industry-leading product innovations firsthand and attending breakout sessions, to learning from system experts, employees have a variety of opportunities to sharpen their skills.
- Professional involvement: When professionals join industry organizations, there is a plethora of information available about continuing education opportunities and new certifications. Professional associations often distribute eNewsletters that keep members informed about new innovations and best practices in the field. Additionally, organizations often bring in industry thought leaders to share insight into the latest trends, technologies and best practices.
By offering ongoing training, continuing education, conference attendance and other opportunities to learn, your company will attract and retain employees who are seeking to better themselves and stay informed on industry products and trends. It will also boost your company’s reputation as a workplace that is committed to the community and to the people who live and work there.