smart brief

Helping local governments improve training and operations

With budgets tight, finding ways to efficiently and cost effectively deliver training for diverse and fragmented workforces can be a huge challenge for local government officials. Finding partners that offer courses tailored to departmental-specific needs and requirements is critical to meeting these goals. Here we talk with Marc Scheipe, executive vice president of TargetSolutions, about the importance of training and what local governments should consider in order to find the right partner.

What are the biggest challenges local governments face from a liability standpoint?

Local governments constantly risk having employees hurt while on the job. These types of incidents can vary drastically and put a huge dent in a local government’s bottom line. Three of the costliest liabilities from a claims standpoint are slips in the workplace, vehicle collisions and ergonomic issues that result in an employee being injured.

The National Safety Council estimates that workers’ comp claims and medical costs associated with slips, trips and fall accidents cost organizations as much as $70 billion per year. And for vehicle collisions, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows roughly 42% of workplace fatalities happened on the roadways in 2015. Ergonomic issues are also a huge liability, with more than 650,000 work-related musculoskeletal disorders costing more than $20 billion.

These huge liabilities can in many cases be prevented with the right education. Not only do these cost money, but they also impact productivity. When employees are out of commission with workers’ compensation claims, organizations see a drop in overall performance and morale

How are these challenges unique to public entities and how can these be addressed?

One thing unique to local governments is how certain types of incidents can be highly publicized. For instance, workplace harassment and discrimination claims are costly to any organization — but extremely damaging for public entities because of the loss in confidence from their communities.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has reported more than 11,000 charges of harassment filed each year, and the U.S. Department of Labor estimates more than $1 billion is lost each year due to harassment. These incidents are not only painful for the victims but also reduce an organization’s overall productivity, performance and perception in the community.

We’ve seen a great increase in scrutiny being paid to police agencies around excessive use of force. This is a highly political issue that can crush a local government if it hasn’t provided its personnel with the right training. How that training is documented is also critical. Organizations of all types, but especially public entities, need to educate personnel through training and make sure policies that prove preparedness are being put into place to reduce risk.

What are some of the best practices local agencies can use when implementing a training program?

It’s important for cities and counties to assemble a training program that addresses the specific roles their employees serve. A maintenance worker needs different training than an office employee or a forklift driver. Being able to customize training based on job duties is critical.

To cost-effectively make sure employees have the right training to positively impact their performance and comply with mandated training requirements, many training HR managers or risk managers are incorporating a web-based solution that streamlines the delivery of training. Over the last decade utilization of online training has skyrocketed with around 77% of U.S. organizations now offering some sort of web-based training for employees.

The primary driver of this shift is that this type of training is cost-efficient and effective. Training with elearning typically takes between 40% and 60% less time than learning in a classroom setting, according to a Brandon Hall Group study. Importantly, elearning also increases retention rates.

The Research Institute of America reported that elearning retention rates range from 25% to 60%, while those taking in-person training can retain less than 10%. That’s why TargetSolutionshas been so successful working with more than 4,000 different public entities. We offer a powerful training and operations management platform, featuring more than 1,500 training courses. It’s truly a one-stop shop for fire, emergency management, police and local governments.

How can a municipality benefit from online training?

One thing we consistently hear from our clients is how difficult it can be to organize and afford in-person training. It’s a challenge to deliver training to the masses for local governments because many employees are in the field rather than in an office environment or in front of a computer.

Online training allows agencies to schedule training to be completed at any time of the day, so it’s convenient for employees. It’s not always the actual online training course that makes the biggest difference. Being able to efficiently deliver and track content or a mandatory policy across an organization is extremely valuable. The ability to efficiently document mandated training and produce structured reporting reduces liability and administrative costs — and improves performance.

What are some examples of how a local government can improve its operational environment with online technology?

Increasingly, public entities need to be efficient and find ways to operate as productively and cost-effectively as possible. That’s why TargetSolutions is focused on providing innovative solutions, some of which go beyond training. We recently launched TargetSolutions Check It operations management system, which was created to document routine maintenance inspections of trucks, tools, medical supplies, controlled narcotics and other items logged in inventory records.

Another area where governments can benefit and save time by using online technology is tracking and reporting Insurance Services Office (ISO) training hours. Most fire departments are looking for ways to improve their ISO rating, which will decrease insurance rates. TargetSolutions provides a state-of-the-art platform for scheduling, delivering, tracking and reporting ISO training hours. We’re also looking into new content modernization techniques, such as virtual reality training courses and microlearning. It’s all to help local governments improve their day-to-day operations, reduce their risk, save money and create happier workforces.

Marc Scheipe serves as executive vice president of TargetSolutions, which is the public sector business unit of elearning and performance support software leader Vector Solutions. Prior to working at Vector Solutions, Scheipe oversaw Sage Software as president, North America. Scheipe has more than 20 years of experience in financial management, strategy development, process improvement and sales and operations leadership.

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