ROANOKE, Va. — Managing people is often the most challenging part of running a laundry.
Good management starts with a well-documented training program. This starts on the first day before a new employee ever gets near a piece of production equipment. The trainer needs to go over the attendance policy, the dress-code policy, how to clock in and out, and the general safety rules for the department.
These items are essential and must be done on that first day. Failure to do so will result in unhappy, unsafe employees.
Once the employee is allowed to go to a workstation, the trainer needs to show them how to turn on and off the piece of equipment (if it has power), where the safety devices are on the piece of equipment, how to safely operate the piece of equipment, productivity expectations and quality standards.
At this point, I am a firm believer in the Boy Scouts of America approach to training, simply stated: “Show and Do.” The trainer shows and then the employee does. The trainer needs to stay with the new employee until they have demonstrated they can do the job and appear to be comfortable doing it.
The goal of a good training program is to develop a dependable, productive employee who works safely and takes good care of his or her equipment. Poor training will result in poor production, poor-quality product, excessive mechanical problems and accidents, and high employee turnover.
Time invested in training is a smart investment and will improve the bottom line.
I have heard of many accidents caused in the laundry industry because employees did not follow established safety procedures. It is simply not enough for a laundry to have the proper procedures. There must also be documentation that the employee received them and understood them.
A detailed training record of each item covered, signed off by the trainer and the employee, will avoid potential legal problems down the road.
As managers, we never want an employee to get hurt on the job, but in the event of an incident, insurance carriers and OSHA will want to see documentation that the employee knowingly violated established safety procedures. Also, they’ll want to see proof that such procedures were given to the employee, that they were trained in using them, and that it is documented appropriately.
This also is important when dealing with labor issues.
Does the employee understand your attendance policy and management expectations? Do they understand who to call and when to call when they cannot come to work? When is a doctor’s note required? What will happen if they show up improperly dressed? These items need to be covered and documented so the employee cannot complain they were never told and did not know.
Training needs to be completed for each task or machine the employee is assigned to work on. I recommend a training board in the production manager’s office with the employees’ names down one side and the various tasks or machines across the top. Each time the employee has completed training on a task, they are marked off on the board. It becomes a quick and easy reference as to which employees are trained to do which tasks.
This can become extremely valuable in times of short staffing where there is a need to move employees to different-than-normal workstations to get the work done.