Like employers in many industries, facilities managers are caught in a tough bind with the threat of losing employees during the Great Resignation, the ongoing challenge of continually upskilling current maintenance technicians, and the need to quickly and effectively onboard those new hires they are able to attract.
Throw in an increasingly complex building environment, including hybrid offices, COVID-19, and the increasingly technological nature of building systems, and it becomes increasingly hard for facilities employers to train their workers.
To optimize training, attract new workers, retain existing ones, and get everyone’s skill level where it needs to be for efficient building operation, one tool will have to be the use of a facilities maintenance training platform. One that can help the employer implement and manage in-person, face-to-face training and online training and that includes online training courses specifically for facilities maintenance skill development and a learning management system, or LMS, to deliver, manage, and track that training. In this article, we’ll provide a list of 9 things to look for in a facilities maintenance training platform to help prepare your facility and maintenance techs for today’s tough-yet-critical facilities challenges.
Below we’ll list and explain 9 essential things to look for in a facilities maintenance training platform. Once you’re done considering this list, you might also want to download the Guide to Selecting & Using Online Facilities Maintenance Training at the bottom of this article or simply contact us to ask additional questions or set up a preview.
All training platforms have great training materials at their heart. Courses you can use during new employee onboarding, for compliance training, and for upskilling & reskilling as well as moment-of-need performance support.
These courses should be designed to help employees learning key facilities maintenance skills and competencies, including building automation, carpentry and hardware, cooling, electrical, emergency power, energy management, fire systems and sprinklers, HVAC, heating, hydronic systems, motors, plumbing, preventive maintenance, water treatment, work order management, and more.
Take a look at the online training courses for facilities maintenance that Vector Solutions provides. Our courses are SCORM-compliant and are designed to fit your organization’s key employee training challenges, including onboarding, upskilling, reskilling, compliance training, performance support, and continuing education for licenses and certifications.
Of course, you’ll want to train your maintenance techs on more than just maintenance skills, plus you’ll want to provide training to other workers in addition to maintenance techs (for example, training and continuing education for facilities managers, right?).
The skill development and compliance training requirements your organization faces will leave you wanting training courses and continuing education on topics such as:
Online training courses are great, but you need to add a learning management system, or LMS, to get a full-blown FM training platform.
If you’re not familiar with learning management systems, they’re cloud-based software applications that organizations use to manage, administer, deliver, track, and report on training.
That includes managing and administering online training, yes, but it also includes managing and administering “real-world” training that occurs offline, such as OJT programs, classroom-style instructor-led training, and more.
Let’s break down the types of training you can manage and administer with an LMS in a little more detail for those who are new to this idea:
a. Online eLearning Courses: These are the industry-standard in terms of online training. They are designed to work with a learning management system and they’re the types of online courses you can buy from a facilities maintenance training provider such as Vector Solutions.
When working with a training provider, you can usually buy or license off-the-shelf courses or custom-built, site-specific courses. There are of course pros and cons to both options.
It’s important to know that you can also make your own elearning courses using products known as elearning authoring tools (industry leaders include products from Adobe, Articulate, Lectora, Camtasia, and iSpring). These tools can be relatively simply to learn and use, and for those who are buying off-the-shelf from a training provider, they’re great ways to “blend” your online learn so you get the benefits of the online courses you’re licensing and the site-specific courses you create yourself.
Take a moment to watch this brief highlight video of our facilities maintenance online training course library.
b. Virtual Instructor-led Training (VILT): You might think of this as live training with an instructor conducted through a webinar-like software application such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Some learning management systems have the capability to create a VILT session right inside the LMS. Others allow you to create the VILT inside something like Zoom or Teams and then use the link for that session to create an activity in your LMS, assign it, grant completion credit to workers, run reports, etc.
c. Additional Online Training Activity Types: A learning management system will come with built-in tools that will allow you to create things like online standard operating procedures (SOPs) for instruction or for assessment; online quizzes; online surveys; and more.
d. Your Own Self-Created Training Materials (PowerPoints, PDFs, Videos, etc): You can also import many of the training materials you’re using now that are NOT elearning courses—such as a PowerPoint Presentation, a .PDF, or a video, into a learning management system. These can then be bundled together with other training activities types, assigned, delivered online, etc.
e. Face-to-face Instruction: A learning management system isn’t all about online training—it can help you manage face-to-face training, too. This includes instructor-led training in a classroom but also OJT programs and any other training you do in the “real world.” The LMS will allow you to assign training to maintenance techs or allow them to register for upcoming courses; notify the worker of the date and time of the training; and more. As an administrator, the LMS will also allow you to grant employees credit for attending and completing this type of training as well as notify the instructor of the upcoming session.
Your key takeaway about training and an LMS is they can be used to create a “blended learning solution.” A blended learning solution is one that delivers training in a variety of training delivery methods, such as face-to-face instruction and online training. Studies have consistently shown that blended learning solutions lead to more positive learning outcomes than do non-blends. As someone involved in designing, developing, or delivering training, the thing to keep in mind is to (a) blend but also (b) select the appropriate training delivery method for each training need based on which delivery method will best enable the worker to satisfy the learning objective(s), develop the required skill, and perform as necessary on the job. Please read our Guide to Blended Learning Strategies for more information on this.
There’s a good chance that the members of your current workforce are most comfortable communicating in a variety of different languages, instead of everyone being most comfortable using English. And if that’s not true today, it’s increasingly likely that it will be true in the future.
We know that people learn best when training is delivered to them in the language they understand best. After all, who wants to struggle to learn something for work while also struggling to translate the language the training is delivered in? And along these lines, it’s also important to note that regulators such as OSHA require training be delivered in a language the employee understands (in the case of the OSHA example, obviously, we’re discussing occupational health and safety training).
Look for a facilities maintenance training platform that allows the LMS system administrator and/or the employees to choose the language that both the LMS and the actual elearning courses are presented in (including words on screen, audio narration, and so on).
At almost any workplace, the days in which employees had only two options for where they could complete training—an instructor-led training session in a classroom setting or sitting at a desk in front of a desktop computer—are over.
That’s definitely true in facilities maintenance and frankly many maintenance techs may not have had access to a desk, chair and desktop computer to complete training in the way that other works might have.
Thankfully, we now can use mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones, to allow workers to view training when and wherever they want (instead of being chained to the schedule of a classroom instructor or to a desk). Many workers enjoy this flexibility, and let’s not forget, self-direction in learning is a key adult learning principle. But this is even more important for maintenance techs, who are often on the move and need
And it’s not just about training, either. Having a training platform with mobile delivery capabilities means workers can access training materials in the field when and where they need it on the job. Nice, huh?
Of course, choosing a training platform for your facilities management and facilities maintenance training needs is about more than just technology and training activities.
You’re going to want to partner with an experienced FM training partner who has in-house subject matter experts (SMEs), instructional designers (IDs), and other training and performance-improvement professionals whose expertise and insight you can tap and benefit from.
You’re also going to want to partner with an online training provider who stands by their product and supports their customers. This includes helpful account managers, customer service representatives, trainers to help you learn how to use their system and will provide tips on how to best implement their online training solutions, instructional designers to offer tips and assistance on how to create your learning blends, and even professionals who create helpful blog articles, downloads, and webinars to share tips on training, risk management, safety management, and more.
This may be less obvious, but you’re going to want your training platform to easily integrate with other workplace software, including things like your HR software system and/or your CMMS. Ask your training provider if their training platform includes APIs or something similar so your software systems can share data and “talk” back-and-forth with one another.
You don’t want your training platform to be an isolated island at work; you want it to be an integrated part of your overall workplace software solutions.
Along the same lines as the section above, it’s ideal if your training provider not only provides a training platform but also can offer your organization other related workplace software systems, such as EHS/safety management software, SDS management software, and mobile risk communication platforms.
We think the resources below may help you find the right training platform for your facility’s learning and performance needs.
Case Study: Developing a Facilities Maintenance Tech Training Program (recorded, on-demand webinar)
We hope you found this article helpful. Be sure to download the guide below before you go!