Onboarding Adapts to Ensure Success

By Joshua Huff

Proper onboard training is important for the overall success of the company and the employee. Regardless of the industry, the training process ensures that employees understand their role and enhances their skills and capabilities in the new job. Onboarding doesn’t stop after the first few weeks or months. Training should be continuous since new technologies and goals are adopted frequently.

Poor training, however, still happens and wastes both the company’s and the employee’s time, money and resources. That is why training someone new on the company’s mission, vision and expectations is crucial.

Arizona Glass Specialists (AGS), located in Chandler, Ariz., is a glazing company specializing in large design-build and value-engineered commercial projects. The company targets three key areas during its new hire training program: expectations, education and philosophy.

“It is important to make sure our newly-hired employees know that we are not just a commercial glazing company, but we are ‘the’ commercial glazing company … and we provide a premium service to our clients,” says Jeffrey Yazwa, pre-construction director at AGS.

Yazwa adds that AGS aims to provide its new hires with an abundance of foundational information. To accomplish this, AGS takes a two-pronged approach: new hires receive hands-on training in the fabrication shop, as well as access to online training courses.

Once their new employees complete their initial training, AGS will introduce them to an average workday slowly.

Safety First

Consolidated Glass Corp. (CGC), a glass fabricator based in New Castle, Pa., strives to instill the importance of safety during new-hire training. This is crucial as technology and machinery become more intricate and larger.

“We ensure that all safety protocols are taught via computer training, followed by hands-on training, proper glass handling technique, equipment operation, understanding best practices, paperwork, product schedule and flow,” says Chris Cekella, CGC’s lean management director. “We also provide the new employee with varying scenarios under the guidance of their mentor to prepare them for multiple circumstances.”

CGC recently implemented a cross-training program for all employees to increase safety. This allows for a more well-rounded pool of operators, and it has improved the company’s safety, quality and product knowledge, Cekella says. “This investment into our employee’s education has allowed a more productive environment,” says Cekella. “We have noticed a greater input into troubleshooting upset conditions, more engagement in the process and an increase in job satisfaction as individuals are trained to stay safe and know we have their best interest in mind.”

Fabricator Tristar Glass Inc. operates in the south-central region of the U.S. and is headquartered in Catoosa, Okla. Safety onboard training is emphasized as industry quality standards become more stringent. Tristar safety manager Brett Sands uses accident reports and weekly safety  inspection checklists to dictate training procedures.

“I take note of any key indicators that I may see on the warehouse floor and use that to guide continuing training,” says Sands. “It is important that each worker look out for his or her safety as well as for co-workers.”

Adaptive Training

As people and technology change, employers must recognize and institute better training methods. This could be as simple as using a dedicated onboarding calendar, taking advantage of project management apps such as Slack or Trello and effectively training both in-office and remote workers.

AGS recently developed new analytics and new hire online programs to help facilitate training. Its analytics program, which was developed and conceived by AGS owner Gary Stevenson along with his childhood friend and independent web designer, Tim Johns, illustrates where each employee has worked on a given day.

The information is fed into the system daily by the crew’s foreman. This allows AGS to track not only the hours each employee works, but what each installer excels at. The technology has allowed AGS to help its estimators lock down a tighter labor number, which has afforded the company more projects because of the precision proposals that it sends, says Yazwa.

AGS’ new hire training program is designed to educate and train people who are new to glazing. The process begins with two days of orientation, which include certification and training. The new hires will then spend up to two weeks in the fabrication shop where they will learn the particulars of glazing. They will then venture out to the field and shadow a crew for the week.

“This is where they learn the ins and outs of commercial glazing and the intricacies of the install process,” says Yazwa. “The most important part? The employee self-reflection meeting that we have at the end of their week. We want to know what works, what they didn’t agree with, and what we can do to make things better. After all, training is essentially an opportunity for everyone in the company to improve.”

Tristar has also adapted its training methods. The company transitioned from primarily on-the-job training for new hires to incorporating both safety and product training videos and slide decks into the onboarding process.

Likewise, CGC says it recently switched to online onboarding to provide more informative training.

“This has allowed us to offer interactive training versus a standard video training with no way to capture knowledge retention,” says Cekella. “This new program has provided us with a better understanding of each individual’s knowledge, and we can tailor our training around that.”

The benefits of effective training help improve the employee’s morale and increase their satisfaction and sense of belonging. A happy employee will contribute more to the success of the company and will lower turnover. Additionally, a better-trained employee will require less supervision, minimize accidents and increase productivity.

“Our main focus when hiring anyone into the company is to create the framework of a potential career,” says Yazwa. “Our desire is to make every employee feel like he or she is part of a family, part of something bigger than him or herself.”

Online Training Comes of Age with LearnGlazing.com

The glass and glazing industry is changing rapidly with many new products and developments. So, when it comes to training and teaching new—and even veteran employees—companies are changing their approach to training, shifting more and more to online settings. Training platforms such as LearnGlazing.com provide a unique way for those working in the industry to learn about glazing products and systems, fabrication and installation and much more.

LearnGlazing.com offers a training curriculum to give glass industry newcomers a jump-start in glazing project management. For example, project managers from another construction field moving into the glass industry or an installer switching over to project management can use LearnGlazing.com to find a comprehensive set of tools. Students from other industries and those with an installation background benefit, but the programs are also ideal for glass contractors and manufacturers. In addition, salespeople and office staff can obtain tremendous insight and understanding of what goes into managing a glass project.

LearnGlazing.com consists of training “paths” that group courses together by topic. The training paths give students the option to plan and prioritize their training. Within the paths, students will find a combination of courses consisting of lessons and a quiz. The course material includes written material, example images, industry resources/links, videos, and PDF guides. All students who successfully pass each course will receive a certificate of completion for that course. Plans are also in the works for additional in-depth modules in other subject areas and live educational events.

Earlier this year, USGlass magazine and LearnGlazing. com announced an agreement that provides USGlass subscribers free access to the entire body of training available on LearnGlazing.com.

“Our readers have told us repeatedly that access to education and ways to train their staffs are high priorities. We are thrilled to be able to underwrite this service for them,” says Debra Levy, publisher of USGlass magazine. Readers only need a current subscription to access the training. “We are delighted to be able to share this premier educational platform with readers of USGlass magazine,” says Chris Martin, principal of LearnGlazing.com. “We are very excited about providing access to even more students and expanding it in the future.”

USGlass is North America’s only monthly magazine dedicated to the architectural glass industry. Its circulation is the largest of any glass publication worldwide, with more than 40,000 subscribers. Subscriptions are free to those in the glass industry and available by visiting https://industry.glass.com/subcenter.php

Joshua Huff is the assistant editor of USGlass magazine. Email him at jhuff@glass.com and connect with him on LinkedIn

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