Training magazine has been following MasTec’s Utility Services Group (USG) and its journey to create a culture of learning throughout the year. We’ve been along for the ride as the utility infrastructure construction company:
- Developed a lineman apprenticeship program that tied training and development opportunities to career progression and pay rate increases.
- Created a new hire orientation curriculum that ensured a consistent and effective onboarding experience for all new employees.
- Launched a learning management system (LMS) that enabled it to track and report employees’ training achievements.
In this issue, we take a step back to review what impact these initiatives have had on the organization thus far and just how close the team is to realizing its broader mission of creating a world class training organization.
LINEMAN APPRENTICE PROGRAM
To begin building a culture of learning and development, it was helpful to start with a training program directly tied to professional and financial opportunities. Senior leadership knew that effective training would help ensure the safety and well-being of all MasTec Utility Services Group employees and customers. Furthermore, the programs were tied to career and financial incentives, which addresses the needs of those who wonder, “What’s in it for me?” This year, the Employee Development team partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as the states of North Carolina and Texas, to launch a lineman apprentice program and do just that.
At press time, there were 68 registered Utility Services Group apprentices, and many more who have applied to join. These employees have received additional hours of training and coaching in exchange for the commitment they’re making to MasTec.
Apprentices gain skills necessary to advance in their career and receive financial incentives along the way. The most encouraging sign for the program thus far is the fact that only four of the new apprentices have left the company since the program launched eight months ago. A nearly 95 percent retention rate in an industry typically plagued by high turnover rates is a big win. These employees feel the investment MasTec is making in them and see how what once was thought of as a “job” now can be a “career.”
NEW HIRE ORIENTATION CURRICULUM
The primary focus of the Utility Services Group’s new employee training curriculum was to ensure new employees learn what they need to know to be safe and successful before joining a crew. There is nothing more important to MasTec than the safety of the team and those affected by their work. Although this training was designed for employees new to USG, the team made the training available to existing employees, too. In fact, at press time, 86 percent of all current MasTec USG employees had completed the new employee training curriculum.
The new employee training rolled out as a reinforcement to the team’s “Safety Is You” initiative. This campaign communicated and emphasized the importance of each employee’s commitment, involvement, and accountability around working safely. This initiative and subsequent training rollout has had a positive impact on the organization’s safety record, and ultimately, the bottom line. MasTec’s Utility Services Group saw a year-over-year 60 percent decrease in OSHA recordable incidents and a significant decrease in the severity of incidents. Additionally, it saw an 81 percent decrease in incurred workers’ compensation claims—great news for both the business and employees.
What made these safety transformations even more impressive was the fact that they occurred with near identical levels of exposure and work hours. And the positive culture around safety continues to grow. When you visit a work site, you see employees sporting “Safety Is You” stickers on their hard hats. Crew members are referencing and reciting messages from the training. In fact, the Employee Development team receives frequent positive feedback and recommendations for additional topics to integrate into the program in the future. All of this speaks to the enormous impact the team’s efforts are having on the overall culture of the organization.
LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
The team needed an effective way to house, access, and report on the new and existing training initiatives underway. It kicked off 2014 by launching the Utility Services Group Learning Center. This learning management system (LMS) would serve as the go-to portal for all of the organization’s training needs going forward.
At press time, just over 90 percent of employees had completed training available on the USG Learning Center. Considering the technology accessibility and geographic restraints put on many MasTec crews in the field, this is impressive. There is no shortage of options available to employees looking to enhance their skills either. At press time, there were 192 courses available (134 e-learning modules and 58 instructor-led courses). Feedback from the field has been encouraging, and the strong levels of participation indicate the site is meeting their needs.
The largest lesson learned from the rollout of the LMS has been around modality. The team provided numerous options for completing most of the training modules launched over the last year. It assumed learners would prefer to complete courses via e-learning because of the flexibility and convenience associated with being able to access the training when and where they choose. What the team learned, however, is that the interactivity and convenience of completing training as a group leads to a strong preference for instructor-led courses. The team will continue to utilize a blended learning approach, but will emphasize the option for leveraging online content in a group setting.
MasTec’s Utility Services Group is well on its way to creating a world-class culture of learning. It answered the popular question, “What happens if we invest in our people and then they leave us?” with a resounding, “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?” The team is all in for this journey. It is 100 percent committed to the development of MasTec employees, and all early indications are that it’s going to be a productive and rewarding ride.
John Congemi is director of Employee Development, Utility Services Group, MasTec North America, Inc.