Training Top 125 Best Practice: Haskell’s Online Technical Training for Global Field Supervisory and Craft Employees
Haskell was faced with a big challenge—the growth of a small construction company from 900 to more than 1,400 team members overnight. Approximately 25 percent of these employees touch every project at Haskell, including the Field Supervisory workforce, roughly 300 employees in 150 different locations in 10 countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Ireland, U.S., Canada, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, and China), and many different roles, from journeymen (construction craft workers) to field superintendents and from safety coordinators to project managers. Ensuring effective training for this group is a company-wide endeavor, with oversight from the chief operating officer, and directly supported and implemented by the five directors of Construction under the guidance of the vice president of Construction, advancing Haskell’s corporate strategic goals of Operational Excellence and Financial Strength.
The challenge was providing blended, on-demand technical training online to Haskell’s global workforce, reducing travel time to training sites, and leveraging existing company technological tools and the current learning management system (LMS) to successfully enhance the culture of learning. Specifically:
- Equip employees with different and emerging skill sets to accomplish many more technically diverse projects.
- Teach them to use more advanced construction-related software, including cutting-edge virtual scanning and drone mapping equipment.
- Help them adapt quickly to a continually changing construction industry.
Previously, nearly all online, on-demand training was soft skills or compliance training. The technical and craft-related content was delivered only at in-person training, the “Superintendents Meeting” (SM) held twice a year in Jacksonville. This is expensive, challenging to the coverage of job sites, and does not provide for appropriate skills enhancement to keep field supervisory teams current on the latest construction technologies and processes.
Finding a solution to this was so crucial that Haskell hired its first manager of Technical Training and Training assistant. They spent four intensive months analyzing, planning, and developing, in partnership with the vice president of Construction, the five directors of Construction (who manage and have day-to-day contact with the field teams), and the chief operating officer (for program oversight and updates).
Utilizing Haskell’s LMS platform and annual Superintendents Meeting, the team implemented a blended, robust curriculum of on-demand technical training, focusing on technical KSAs (standard Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities needed in the construction industry, defined by the Department of Labor), safety, and quality processes. The team designed a microlearning process to deliver content and then use the Superintendents Meeting, held just once annually, for in-person practice and reinforcement. The training includes:
- 3- to 15-minute lessons in targeted learning that is realistic to maximize job site time management.
- Training modules sent out every three to four weeks in waves, giving the trainee a flexible window of opportunity to participate.
- Reinforcement, skills practice, and deeper learning at the Superintendents Meeting within 2 to 4 months later. For example, a leadership development e-learning in May was supplemented by a six-hour hands-on workshop in June; complementing the structural testing technical module was a session on what’s required from an inspection perspective with a tolerances training and a hands-on practice on wall construction protection. Many of these sessions were delivered by specialized skill training vendors.
- Videotaped SM sessions, converted to e-learning courses, are available to everyone company-wide.
Additionally, the team set up an extensive video training library for PROCORE, the company’s new construction management software. This was supplemented with 12 five-minute training videos customized to Haskell field supervisory personnel, created using Skype (utilizing screencast training with screen captures and functionality).
To support the cultural shift to blended learning with on-demand online technical content, the team executed a robust communication plan to share the short- and long-term program vision through Haskell’s Website, e-mail announcements, and executive leadership participation in the Superintendents Meeting: The VP of Construction was directly involved with the development of the schedule of events and attendance; the directors of Construction fully participated and provided valuable insight; and the COO kicked off the meeting and fully participated.
Haskell successfully and flexibly delivered Online Technical Training to 350 team members with primary outcomes including:
- July 2018: Completed initial delivery of five online custom-built video courses, seven compliance training modules, and reinforcement/skills application training at the Superintendents Meeting, with 95 percent completion, beating the company’s target of 80 percent.
- To date: More than 850 individual course completions, an average increase of 17-plus hours per individual of technical, administrative, and compliance training delivered.
- Program feedback through end-of-course surveys indicates an overall 4.3 out of 5 rating, with participants feedback that they enjoy having a “flexibility window” to complete training as the job site workload permits. The team also utilized feedback to correct and improve preparation and delivery; for example, it modified/customized several of the PROCORE training modules (field iPad usage with the software) to target the feedback needs of the field supervisory group utilizing this new software.
- Lengthy wait times for essential technical training were eliminated.
- By holding the Superintendent’s Meeting only once a year and using a continuous learning approach, the company will save an estimated $85,000 annually in travel costs for participants from remote locations attending the two-day event. Additionally, Haskell will be able to target better skill sets that are evolving with the advances in technology.
Finally, Haskell already is beginning to see improved productivity levels, employee engagement, and skill development utilizing this blended approach to training.