Companies spent 15 percent more on employee training in 2013

Online training courses allow you to reap the benefits of employee development programs without the typical cost.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to reap the benefits of employee development programs.

American companies across all industries are increasingly recognizing the importance of ongoing employee training and learning opportunities when it comes to safety, worker retention, productivity and morale. In fact, a recent report from Bersin by Deloitte shows that in 2013 alone average training budgets increased a staggering 15 percent.

Why is this trend on the rise? Numerous studies have shown employees who are given the chance to continue their education, improving and expanding their existing skill sets, have higher levels of professional satisfaction and are less likely to leave their jobs. Lower turnover rates alone can save businesses thousands upon thousands of dollars every year. Increased morale and higher levels of worker engagement have also been show to lead to dramatically improved productivity. In other words, executives and managers are realizing that continuing education programs have considerable return on investment and positively impact the bottom line.

It’s important to remember that learning opportunities are important across every department, division and level.

“No matter their role or level, everyone wants to feel like their strengths are appreciated, effectively utilized and built upon,” writes Andre Lavoie, a contributor to Entrepreneur.

From an entry-level employee to a top executive, constant learning is a key ingredient in the recipe for professional success. A new worker’s first introduction to your company should include comprehensive safety and job training, positioning them to meet expectations and do their job well. Once that basic threshold has been reached, managers can meet with employees to discuss short- and long-term education goals.

Ongoing training among supervisors is particularly crucial, as they set the tone for the entire company and in many ways determine its success or lack thereof. (For example, if you have unusually high employee turnover in one specific department, an unskilled manager might be to blame.) The importance of cultivating effective supervisors is apparent in the Bersin by Deloitte study, which found that, on average, 35 percent of last year’s learning and development budgets went to leadership training.

Across the country, the average company spent $1,169 per person on learning initiatives last year. The good news is that you don’t have to invest anywhere near that much money to reap the rewards you want. Rather than committing to expensive tuition reimbursement programs, sending your team offsite to pricey conventions and seminars or bringing guest lecturers to the workplace, explore the many cost-effective online learning courses available through Mastery Technologies.

Our employee training and development resources are efficient, engaging and effective. Whether your workers want to improve their so-called “soft” skills, like leadership and teamwork, or are looking to make strides in a specific area of technical study, such as computers, we have a course to meet their needs.

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Why your employees are your company’s most important asset

Employees are a company's most valuable asset.

Do you have a strategic plan to maintain your company’s most valuable asset?

We have previously discussed on this blog how to improve employee retention, for the good of both morale and the bottom line. In fact, many business experts argue a company’s employees are actually its most valuable asset, outstripping even infrastructure, information and inventory.

Leadership consultant and Forbes contributor Rodger Dean Duncan points out that if you got to work one day and discovered someone had stolen your computers and files, you would probably instigate an extensive investigation to determine what happened, and then draft a plan of action to make sure it didn’t occur again. Yet most employers accept the loss of valued staff members as par for the course, whether they are “stolen” by a competitor or just decide to seek employment elsewhere.

In some ways, your employees are even more important than your company’s proprietary files. Here are four reasons they are so valuable :

  • Action: In our tech-centric world, it’s easy to forget that behind every great computer is a great employee. While infrastructure and resources are important, remember that it’s your team that is ultimately responsible for your business’ success or failure. This is particularly true if you work in a client- or customer-facing industry, where consistency in staffing is key.
  • Expense: Don’t forget salaries and benefits are almost certainly some of your biggest expenses. If you don’t maximize bang-for-your-buck in this area, you are simply throwing good money after bad. On the other hand, talented employees represent an enormous return on this investment, helping their companies meet and exceed goals.
  • Innovation: Innovation is the lifeblood of a business, more so today than ever before. While industry leaders and top executives may spend the most time talking about innovation, the big “light bulb moment” that ultimately sets a company apart from its competitors often stems from an observation made by an on-the-ground worker. If your turnover at this level is high, you could be missing out on innovative ideas that would propel your professional interests onward and upward.
  • Institutional memory: The kinds of companies where people want to keep working have the strength of solid institutional memory. Employees who have been with a business through thick and thin for years, or even decades, understand its mission, vision and identity in a way that new workers simply will not be able to. This is incredibly powerful when it comes to strengthening your company’s brand. Ultimately, all successful organizations have compelling stories, and no one will tell your business’ story better than the people who have helped build it and make it what it is.

Once you begin viewing your workers as one of your company’s most important assets, it becomes clear how important it is to protect your return on investment where they are concerned. If you made a big monetary investment in a computer system, you would likely spend at least some time and money making sure it continues to work smoothly and operate efficiently. Do the same with your people, checking in with them periodically to be sure all is well.

It’s also crucial to show your team how valuable you believe they are by investing in their professional development. Mastery Technologies provides a wide variety of employee development training courses to appeal to workers in almost every industry imaginable. Whether you want to give your team the chance to learn specific technical skills or general business knowledge, browse our course offerings today!

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Anthrax incident underscores importance of employee safety training

Dozens of CDC workers were at risk of live anthrax exposure thanks to a serious safety violation.

A serious safety lapse could have exposed dozens of CDC workers to live anthrax.

In a stark reminder of the importance of employee safety training, a recent incident at a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lab may have exposed dozens of workers to live samples of anthrax. In a press release, the CDC says it does not believe anyone was actually exposed, as none of the workers have since exhibited symptoms of anthrax poisoning.

Regardless, the incident’s implications are serious. According to the news release, it occurred when one lab attempted to deactivate live anthrax for use in a lower-security lab. However, the proper sterilization procedures were not followed, which means the anthrax could still have remained viable. The material then went to the other lab, where employees were not wearing the personal protective equipment that would be necessary to protect them from live anthrax.

This was doubtless a disturbing lapse in safety procedures that could have had serious, even fatal, consequences. However, Forbes contributor and leadership expert points out that when such dangerous mistakes are uncovered, it is important that leaders leverage them to create a safer workplace.

Here are some key points:

Don’t play the blame game: Cancialosi says that the CDC was right to move quickly and decisively in the wake of a serious safety incident. However, he argues that the tone of the response was too negative, focusing on who was at fault for the lapse rather than how it was even possible in the first place. He recommends organizations avoid playing “the blame game,” pointing fingers and punishing those deemed responsible. If a dangerous error seems to be the result of a systemic flaw, then it is often counterproductive to lay the fault at the doorstep of specific individuals.

Encourage workers to report concerns: A culture of blame will ensure that employees will not come forward if they notice a safety concern. Instead, try to create an environment in which people are encouraged to report issues. “Consider adopting an approach that puts the focus on accountability and honesty rather than blame, such as the Aviation Safety Action Program, which many U.S. airlines use to encourage individuals to foster an environment where employees are incentivized to report safety issues,” says the leadership expert.

Invest in training: Cancialosi strongly recommends investing in the necessary training to keep your team safe on-the-job. The good news is that you don’t have to upend your budget by sending employees off-site or bringing in an expert. For example, explore Mastery Technologies‘ cost-effective, time-efficient online training courses. Whether you work in a lab, hospital, office or oil field, we have resources to meet your needs, helping you to prevent accidents and save time and money in the long run.

Focus on resolution: Instead of looking for a “fall person,” focus on how your company can improve procedures so that the workplace is safer. Problems can be some of your greatest assets if you use them to improve. While the CDC was investigating the anthrax incident, they also discovered that an inactive sample of avian flu came in contact with a live sample of H5N1 influenza virus and was shipped to another laboratory. Fortunately, no one was exposed. While the worst-case outcome in such a scenario is unsettling, it is more important to implement procedures so that such an event does not happen again, than to determine who was at fault.

Check out all of Mastery’s courses on Laboratory Safety to learn ways you can help keep your lab a safe work environment.

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Inside Mastery: Meet Mastery’s Kirk Berry

Behind every great organization, there is a successful sales team. Behind every great sales team, there is a great leader. As a part of our Inside Mastery series, we would like to introduce you to our Vice President of Sales, Kirk Berry.

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Cut stress to increase productivity and profit

Is workplace stress hurting your company's bottom line?

Encourage employees to take regular short breaks away from their desks to decrease stress and increase productivity.

We all know  stress is bad for workplace morale, but did you know it can actually hurt the bottom line? Research has indicated that elevated stress levels may make people more susceptible to illness, leading to higher rates of absenteeism. It also takes a toll on productivity, with unhappy workers getting 10 percent less done on average, according to some workplace wellness experts. Of course, stressful professional environments often also have high turnover rates, which can cost companies thousands of dollars every year.

If your business or department is struggling to improve employee retention and/or productivity, consider investing in stress management training courses from Mastery Technologies. Our online learning resources can help you and your fellow executives and managers identify ways to lower overall stress levels, reducing turnover and creating a more positive environment.

Of course, a certain amount of stress is inevitable in virtually any workplace, which means it is equally important to train team members on how to manage anxiety, so that they can rise to meet high-pressure occasions. Empower your employees to better respond to stressful situations using our array of courses on the topic, which can even help them use stress to their advantage. In the meantime, here are some tips to get you started:

Diet

Eating healthy, regular meals is believed to cut stress.

Exercise

Exercise is a mood booster, and even small increases can make a difference. Encourage your employees to take breaks throughout the day, perhaps walking around the block before getting back to work. They’ll return rejuvenated and better able to focus.

Laughter

Laughter really is the best medicine when it comes to stress! Try to create a culture that values a sense of humor.

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Hydrogen sulfide can prove deadly for oil and gas workers

Hydrogen sulfide is one of the leading causes of workplace gas poisoning in the United States.

Hydrogen sulfide presents a serious safety risk for workers in the oil and gas industry.

At least five American oil and gas workers have died from hydrogen sulfide poisoning since the beginning of 2013, according to a recent report from Energy Wire. Hydrogen sulfide, also known as “sour gas,” can quickly prove fatal, sometimes even in just a couple of breaths. It is a colorless gas that smells of rotten eggs, but in high concentrations or with prolonged exposure, the scent quickly disappears.

According to Energy Wire, it appears that hydrogen sulfide emissions may be on the rise in Texas, New Mexico and Kansas, although record keeping varies from state-to-state, making it difficult to decisively track patterns.

In Montana, oil and gas expert Tom Wilson tells the Bismarck Tribune that sour gas is prevalent. Hydrogen sulfide can cause loss of consciousness at just 500 parts per million and nearly instant death at 1,000 parts per million. Wilson says he has measured sour gas with concentrations at 70,000 parts per million.

One of the most deadly accidents in the history of the oil and gas industry happened in Denver City, Texas, in 1975, when a local well-developed a leak. Thanks to cold and windless conditions, the hydrogen sulfide collected near the ground, poisoning nine people nearby. Jack Watkins was one of the volunteer firefighters who helped recover the bodies of the victims.

“That stuff can get you so fast, you don’t realize you’re in it till it’s too late,” he tells Energy Wire. “You could tell they’d been fighting this gas — they had wash cloths over their mouths.”

Because hydrogen sulfide poisoning can occur at such low concentrations, leaving victims little to no time to react, proper safety training is imperative to prevent costly accidents and loss of life. Check out Mastery’s courses covering hydrogen sulfide safety.

Invest in Mastery Technologies‘ variety of cost-effective, efficient online training courses, to ensure your team is working safely in the field.

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OSHA cracking down on residential construction industry after spike in fatal falls

Safety training can prevent falls and save lives.

Eighty percent of residential roofers killed on-the-job die from injuries sustained in falls.

The number of fatal falls in the American construction industry is on the rise, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The statistics are troubling. Last year, 190 residential construction workers died on-the-job, a 23 percent increase over 2011. One in two such fatalities are due to falls, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, and a staggering eight in 10 residential roofers who are killed at work fall to their deaths.

In light of the recent increase in residential construction falls, OSHA is trying to crack down on businesses that violate fall protection safety standards, hitting them with heavy financial penalties.

“Falls continue to be the leading cause of death in construction,” OSHA area director Brian Sturtecky said in a release after fining a Florida contractor $188,000 earlier this year. “It is imperative that any employee working from heights more than six feet be provided the proper fall protection equipment and trained how to properly use it.”

Sturtecky’s emphasis on training is key. While all construction companies should provide their workers with fall protection equipment, they must also invest in safety training or the tools themselves are useless. Mastery Technologies offers cost-effective, efficient online courses to meet this need, getting your team up-to-speed and on-site as quickly and safely as possible. Check out all of Mastery’s courses on fall protection, and those featuring the construction industry.

Here are several important safety tips to get you started:

  • Assess fall hazards: Fall hazards can be many and varied, and as an employer or site manager, it is your responsibility to assess all potential risks. These may include: ladders, skylights, wall openings, roof lines, holes, excavations, etc.
  • Choose the appropriate fall protection: Learn how to choose and use fall protection (guard rails, fences, hole covers, personal fall arrest systems, safety nets, harnesses, etc.) based on the setting and job.
  • Consider those below: Remember that fall protection isn’t just about protecting workers up high. Ask yourself whether team members on the ground are at risk of being hit by falling debris.
  • Even low falls can be fatal: The Wall Street Journal shares the story of a seasoned construction professional who was killed after falling from a first-floor roof. Often, even a fall from a relatively low height can be fatal.
  • Provide bilingual training: If any member of your crew is not completely proficient in English, it is crucial you offer safety training in their first language. That’s why Mastery Technologies has training available in Spanish.

In its effort to prevent further fatal falls, OSHA has even made the unprecedented move of trying to wrest control of construction workplace safety from Arizona, arguing that existing safety measures there are insufficient to keep employees safe. In the state, workers are required to use fall protection only once they are 15 feet above the ground or higher — more than twice the six-foot standard set by the federal government. (Until recently, the Wall Street Journal reports, residential contractors were exempt from that rule.)

If you are a contractor or other construction industry professional, be sure to invest in fall prevention training from Mastery Technologies. Falls can cause serious injury or even death to your workers, a devastating experience for any employer. Additionally, such accidents can prove extremely costly in terms of lost productivity, OSHA fines, workers’ compensation claims and civil lawsuits. Don’t wait to protect yourself and your employees. Invest in training your team today.

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Interactive Training: 5 Tips To Keep In Mind

Everyone enjoys an interactive training experience. No employee wants to go into a training experience dreading it – becoming bored, not engaged, etc. The evolution of training and technology has provided companies with the opportunity to present a rewarding training experience for all trainees. 1390298035game-training

For example, by using games within a company’s training experience, employees become motivated, it promotes and helps stimulate learning within the workplace. Game-based learning provides employees with social interaction, increase in energy levels, the opportunity to apply new skills and even the freedom to fail.

Social interaction is important to any employee training process. In the Association for Talent Development (ATD) article entitled, “Five Tips for Success When Using Games in Training” it highlighted 5 tips to implement in order to improve your employee training process. The five steps are summarized as:

  1. Make it relevant - Align your games with your training goals. Keep all activities relevant and engaging.
  2. Consider your audience – When selecting games, don’t forget about your audience. Remember to keep your company policies and trainees in mind.
  3. Use your environment – Take how your trainees learn into consideration. Do they learn visually or kinetically? Maximize the learning experience, utilize groups – small or large.
  4. team-buliding-exercisesConsider your timing – Even though time is of the essence, don’t allow time to control the training. Watch the clock but don’t deprive your employees of their training experience. Lessening the time can change the overall effect on the training and employees can lose focus.
  5. Create a movement – Get your team moving! Use games that require movement to keep their focus and energy high.

Studies show that 91% of listeners at business presentations have admitted to daydreaming during a presentation. Thus, it’s important that managers and trainers engage their artist during their training or orientation sessions.

Like gaming, using interactive training for new or current employees will help stimulate their overall learning process. Mastery’s Video On Demand training helps stimulate learning on the go. With courses geared toward adapting to change within the workplace such as Mastery’s The New Workplace: Make the Change or learning to lead with change through Mastery’s The New Workplace: Leading the Change, employees will have the opportunity to learn first hand the benefits of interactive learning within the workplace.

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Inside Mastery: Meet Mastery’s Jeff Holth

At Mastery Technologies, we believe in building amazing organizations. The foundation of any company is its employees. Our newest segment “Inside Mastery”, will give you an inside look at some of the employees that help make Mastery one of the best and brightest companies to work for in Michigan.

We now introduce you to our newest member of the Mastery Team, Jeff Holth.

Meet Mastery Tech (1)

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3 ways to get more out of meetings

How productive are your team meetings?

How productive are your team meetings?

Are mandatory meetings taking a toll on your team’s morale? Unproductive meetings are the bane of many an employee’s existence. Not only are they a waste of company resources, they can also make workers feel that managers don’t value and respect their time. This, in turn, can even lead to high turnover rates and even more lost productivity.

The good news is that you and your fellow supervisors can learn how to lead better meetings, accomplishing more in less time. Here are some tips:

  • Craft a clear timeline: Create a “travel itinerary” for each meeting, with minutes-long increments allotted for specific action items. Try assigning one person to monitor the clock, perhaps ringing a bell when it’s time to transition to the next topic.
  • Give everyone a job: Make sure no one at a given meeting is a passive attendee. Each participant should have one or more specific tasks that they are responsible for. This will ensure that everyone is mentally engaged.
  • Less is more: Connie Williams, an executive at a company that studies meeting best practices, recommends scheduling meetings for 37.5 minutes, rather than the typical hour. This encourages efficiency and emphasizes the importance of every wasted minute. “I think it’s funny. You set an hour for a meeting, and you’re always at an hour and 5 minutes,” Williams tells Fast Company. She says that the leader typically realizes with just minutes to spare: “‘We’ve just wasted 55 minutes and now we’ve really got to make some decisions.'”

These are just a few tips to get you started. Mastery Technologies offers several courses that provide more tips on having effective meetings, such as “Virtual Meetings: The Invisible Meeting” and “How to Have Effective Meetings.”

If you are serious about improving the quality of your meetings, invest in cost-effective, online management training courses available through Mastery Technologies. We offer an array of learning resources to help you improve performance and productivity.

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