Recruitment of competent, dependable employees can be difficult in any year, let alone one in which in-person meetings were discouraged, and events such as recruitment fairs were curtailed. For Rosendin, an electrical construction services company, 2020 was a time to continue pushing forward with its recruitment efforts, despite these challenges.
The company continued its focus on building a workforce of talented individuals primed for future growth. It also ensured through next-level learning and development that the talented individuals it recruited would have what they needed to achieve maximum efficiency.
Alongside the gains in recruitment and efficiency, the last year gave Rosendin’s Learning professionals a chance to support the company in its efforts to expand into new markets. The Training team showed the company’s leaders that the services it provides are more important than ever, ensuring a highly productive year that overcame unprecedented circumstances.
IT STARTS AT THE TOP
“The company’s mission is: ‘Building Quality — Building Value – Building People.’ Building Quality and Value are things we do for others, while Building People is something we do for ourselves that relies on both Human Resources and the Learning and Development (L&D) team to facilitate,” say Training Coordinator Kayla Hart and Vice President of Quality and Training Lisa Vere. “The other two aren’t possible without motivated, engaged people. It starts at the top, and the senior executives at Rosendin all help teach and participate in the company’s learning culture.”
There were three main strategic goals set for 2019-2020, which Hart and Vere, and the rest of the Learning and Development team, were tasked with providing support to accomplish. Those three goals were: “Invest in the Best – Attract, Develop, and Inspire the Best and the Brightest within the Industry,” “Enhance Operational Efficiency and Operational Excellence,” and “Increase Our National Footprint by 20 Percent in 2025.”
RECRUITMENT’S ESSENTIAL ROLE
The goals set from the top at Rosendin are only possible with the right company-wide team in place. For that reason, the talent strategy begins with recruitment. “At the recruitment level, there is a focus on engaging prospective and new employees in immersive programs designed to develop the best and brightest in the industry,” Hart and Vere say. “The Summer Internship Program concentrates on individualized plans designed to familiarize interns with their role and summer assignment and provide them with opportunities to learn about a variety of company positions through job rotation.”
Talent pipeline programs at Rosendin include the apprenticeship program, “Field Supervision Development,” the “Surge Program,” Leadership Academy, and the “P.O.W.E.R. (Preparing Our Workforce’s Executive Resources) Program.” These programs have played an essential role in the company’s success. “Pipeline programs have helped our company achieve a 100 percent internal promotion rate for leadership positions and a turnover rate of 3 percent (18.4 percent below the national average for our industry),” say Hart and Vere.
Talent development also ties signficantly into the company’s strategic goal to enhance operational efficiency and excellence. One initiative associated with this goal aims to expand the company Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QAQC) team to include additional program managers and assign regional resources by developing a QAQC Certfication Program offered to employees. The QAQC Certfication Program consists of two certfications and three sets of modules. Through this program, regional resources have been developed, resulting in an increased focus on QAQC training. “By measuring the number of punch-list items at the completion of the project (punch-list items are those that are captured by the owner or general contractor as ‘items to be corrected’), this initiative produced a 42 percent decrease in dehciencies from 2018 to 2019,” Hart and Vere point out.
GROWING THE NATIONAL FOOTPRINT
To support growth in new markets, the Talent Development team focused on operational metrics, customer relationships, and employee training. The program is part of a staged rollout of continuous improvement efforts. To establish a benchmark, a third-party organization interviews current customers, allowing them to provide candid feedback about their experience with the company, Hart and Vere explain. Work procurement was improved through company-wide training for all personnel involved in the interview process. “This training initiative resulted in customer satisfaction scores improving to 4.375 in 2019 from 3.75 in 2018. This change in customer service allowed the firm to negotiate (rather than competitively bid on) contracts for 2019 in excess of $110 million, a 57.1 percent increase from 2018,” Hart and Vere reveal.
Investment in training continued to be fully supported by Rosendin’s executives during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Training team was able to quickly adapt to learner needs, including those of both office and held staff. Because Rosendin had projects considered essential when shelter-in-place orders first took effect, not all projects stopped work immediately, and for those at job sites, training remained as important as ever. The Training team has continued to develop new programs with the utilization of virtual platforms.
Since March 2020, the Training team has made the switch to 100 percent virtual instructor-led training. Both “Project Management Bootcamp” and “Field Supervision Bootcamp,” two of the costliest programs, have been moved to a virtual platform that is able to accommodate twice the number of learners as in-person sessions, resulting in cost efficiencies greater than 37 percent. “Across all aspects of the department, and including budget returned to the company, we have saved $1.5 million, helping our team avoid layoffs and furloughs due to the pandemic,” Hart and Vere say. “The Talent Development team has increased the number of instructor-led trainings by 53 percent during the pandemic. With no need to travel to deliver training to our geographically dispersed workforce, we have realized a savings of more than $400,000 utilizing virtual training platforms. The team will continue to utilize virtual instructor-led trainings for the foreseeable future across all divisions in the company.”
Prior to the pandemic, approximately 70 percent of Rosendin’s trainings were offered as in-person sessions. The Training team quickly developed a solution for remote employee training, utilizing Linkedln Learning in the early months to provide trainers with time to adjust their classes to better suit an online delivery platform. The pandemic pushed Rosendin to launch additional competency maps, which list all the skills necessary for an employee’s current position. Each competency map equips learners with the ability to take control of their learning paths by providing links to recommended Linkedln Learning content and instructor-led trainings, increasing employee consumption of training content.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is used through Linkedln Learning’s platform to make recommendations to employees. The system uses information such as the learner’s job title, learning completions, search history, and skills to make learning recommendations. To leverage this functionality, learners must have a Linkedln profile, which most employees already have, Hart and Vere explain. Those who are uncomfortable with these recommendations and tracking may opt out by not creating a Linkedln profile. “As a result of these recommendations, learners have consumed more content than by simply pushing out a required list of courses. In fact, for the first three quarters of last year, our Linkedln Learning account holders viewed more than 150,000 videos,” say Hart and Vere.
AI has given the company’s remote training capabilities a big boost. “By utilizing AI and a deep learning library, we have been able to exponentially increase the consumption of Web-based learning by our employees. In most learning management systems (LMSs), there is no recommendation feature, or the functionality is limited,” say Hart and Vere. “By using Linkedln Learning’s incorporated AI, the structure and categorization is mostly existing, requiring fewer resources to set up. The result is that we are seeing learners complete one course and then continue to another based on an AI recommendation and a positive user experience.”
A MORE INCLUSIVE FUTURE
Leadership training has been of particular interest to Rosendin employees of late. In an effort to overcome unconscious bias and help promote diversity and inclusion, Rosendin changed its Leadership Academy from a manager selection process to an application process. “We were stunned by the number of applicants we received, indicating a real hunger for leadership training. While Leadership Academy was limited to a certain number, we offered the rest of the applicants a new program called ‘Emerging Leaders,’” say Hart and Vere. “Emerging Leaders will take the competencies we develop for Leadership Academy and start laying the foundation in this new program. It will be a combination of curated online content and workshops, where they will put the skills into practice in front of coaches who will give them feedback. We also are creating Study Action Groups led by senior executives where they recommend a favorite leadership book and go through it chapter by chapter with the students.”
The ultimate goal of recruitment and more inclusive leadership development is a workforce that lives out the company’s core values every day. “They would be clear on their career path and how training can help them progress,” Hart and Vere say of their ideal workforce of the future. “They would receive coaching and feedback from their leaders regularly, and as the company continues to grow, promotional opportunities would be filled from within. Others outside the construction industry would see construction as a viable career opportunity and be attracted to work at our company. We would have a happy, engaged workforce, and this would be reflected in the company’s bottom line.”