Training Tools Spotlight: Employee Onboarding for Success

December 31, 2018

By Brandon Magee, Safety Supervisor

During your first day on the job, did you ask yourself, “what am I getting myself into?” I asked myself that question several times. A new job is full of the unexpected, no matter what industry you’re in. In this industry, especially when you’re new to the vegetation management field, the first few months are filled with training and getting acclimated to the new role and your crew. Unfortunately, most jobs don’t come with a how-to guide!

All too often in life we are given responsibility and are tossed the keys with no directions or set destinations. It is a sink or swim experience. Sure, you might learn a lot by getting thrown into a situation, but is that setting your employees up to fail?

At WTS, we take a different approach. I was fortunate enough to be invited to assist during a new employee orientation in Division 65. I learned a lot during the experience that I was able to put to good use when Central Division was awarded a new contract and more new employees needed an orientation to the company.

One of the toughest challenges we faced was the hiring and orientating of new and seasoned employees and informing them of the policies, procedures and expectations for their job roles.

We made sure that the interactive orientation would give new employees the tools they need to be successful at WTS. I explained the expectations we have to be safe, efficient, and professional and covered information about approved work methods (AWMs), accident and injury procedures, and safe equipment use. I also provided an Electrical Hazard Awareness Training (EHAT) and quiz, demonstrated job briefings, included some background information on tree identification, and showed several WTS safety videos.

A key element for engagement during orientation is providing hands-on training. I have found that the information is better retained when you keep the group involved and interested. We trained on several topics, including:

• Chipper safety and use
• Approved knots and hitches
• 5 step felling plan/roping and rigging
• Chainsaw safety and inspecting safety features

I believe the orientation process is crucial for our new employees. If we invest in them, explain our expectations and let them know they have the backing of the entire company, they will work hard to be the safest and most efficient employees they can be.