2d - Staff policy

 Staff handbook
A new apprentice will no doubt have many questions regarding the company. A staff handbook can help in finding answers to these questions.

A staff handbook is intended to provide all employees with an introduction to how company policies and procedures apply to employees and which benefits, resources, and services are available.

A staff handbook cannot anticipate every situation or answer every question about employment, so emphasize to the apprentice that he shouldn’t feel hesitant about approaching you (his trainer), his mentor or the human resources department with any queries he may have.

Here is an example from Hotel Koldingfjord (Denmark). This staff handbook covers a large number of topics. Each department is described separately.

Among other things, there are chapters on: 
  • The hotel's history, surroundings and a map of buildings, etc. 
  • The establishment's current situation, business concept and the "golden rule" : the guest comes first! 
  • Organisation, ownership and practical information.
Employees can also read about criteria for success in teamwork between departments and in service to guests!
 Practical information

The new apprentice is actually moving in to your company. What should he/she bring? Have you gotten things ready for him/her?

  • a work area and desk?
  • a key or pass?
  • a password to turn off the alarm?
  • personal protection equipment?
  • work clothes and shoes?
  • tools?
  • mobile phone?
  • Etc.
 Rules and regulations in the workplace

The apprentice needs to know the most important rules of the workplace right from the beginning, also the unwritten ones! It's a good idea to hand out written rules to the apprentice, even when they seem obvious to everyone. This will remove the insecurity that comes from not knowing how to behave. 

This can also be important, if for some reason a disagreement about rules arises. There are many ways to write down house rules.

NOTE: A long list of rules can seem overwhelming and strict, especially if the rules consist of a long series of prohibitions and orders.

A positive attitude and a good tone when delivering rules can help a lot! Explain to the apprentice that the rules are there, so that everyone has guidelines to follow in their daily work.

Example: Arçelik Institute (Turkey)
The Arçelik Institute in Turkey, whose core business is consumption goods, has its company house rules on the Internet. Topics covered are amongst others: conflicts of interest, collecting information for competitors, intellectual ownership, safety, environment, health, internal control, relations with other organisations, respect for others, alcohol and drugs on the workplace, workplace safety, working environment and equal rights for men and women.

Example: Click here to download an example of a list of subjects for which rules are set in a medium-sized firm.

 Employee competence - Training policy
No matter how competent we are, at some point the need arises for further training. The company may expand its activities, new technologies may arrive, or we may wish to move to a new field of work.

Usually it is the responsibility of the Human Resources manager to analyse the company's needs regarding competence development for employees. A company training policy is a view on training for the near future.

Depending on the company, a trainer can be involved in setting up and executing (parts of) the company training policy. A training policy can be divided into the following 3 areas:

1. Orientation – to determine training vision, policy and strategy, it is important to have internal and external (policy) information.

2. Creation - defining (creating) the content of the training is important for achieving the desired company and training objectives.

3. Implementation - how the training company translates the training policy into practical implementation.

To be able to determine a clear strategy, the following information should be collected: 
  • How can we reach training goals?
  • Do we have a good picture of the employees in the company?
  • Which competencies does every employee need? See the diagram on the right for an example of the result of a competence analysis tool. "Strategisk kompetenceudvikling", Arbejdsmarkedsrådet for Århus Amt (Denmark)
  • How can we ensure that they indeed obtain these competencies?
  • Are we willing and able to meet expectations?
  • Which competencies do we already have in the company?
  • What is available on the market in the field of training?
  • What are the main trends?
  • Which technological developments can we benefit from?
  • Who can advise and help us?

By asking yourself these and similar questions and finding answers, you can set up a sound and clear policy for the training in your company.

In order to make a good training policy, you need clear objectives. Training and education has to be made explicit when drawing up specific plans.  Training should be a priority within the overall corporate policy. This should be worked out into specific plans and activities.

Employees (and, in particular, training staff) and apprentices need to know which results the company wishes to achieve with training and what is expected of them in this context. They must know how the company wishes to go forward with training.

To successfully implement the policy, continual commitment is necessary.

It is wise to have training staff implement and realise training policy and training plans. This provides for a regular check on progress and provides information for the interim update of plans and budgets. Evaluation of final results is the input for work plans for the next coming period. 

Click here to download a checklist for setting up a company training plan. 

Click here to download a model of a company training plan.
 Career development

To have the most effect, a training policy should be linked to career development. Career development is an organised approach used to match employee goals with the company's needs in support of workforce development initiatives. In this process, the purpose of career development is to: 

  • Enhance each employee's current job performance.
  • Enable individuals to take advantage of future job opportunities.
  • Fulfil companies' goals for a dynamic and effective workforce.

For more information on career development click here.

When we talk about investment, we distinguish between the three following areas:

  1. Budget - how the training company determines and manages training budgets.
  2. Knowledge and technology - how the training company acquires, distributes, applies and secures knowledge and technology for training.
  3. Materials and services - the way, in which materials and services for training are purchased and used.

Investing in staff and training is investing in the future. From this perspective, the continuity of the training company can be guaranteed. Training takes time and money, but pays in the long run. For a novice apprentice, it can be assumed that the production level of the trainer as well as the apprentice will not be 100%. However, the investment in training will later be largely recovered.

A senior staff member in the training company is responsible for scheduling time, space and budget to implement the training policy in a structured and practical way.

To gain insight into the costs of training, it is best to make an inventory of all possible costs in advance. Costs can be broken down into costs for the training company and other training activities, such as further training of employees. On the basis of this inventory, a budget can be made. Costs that can be included in the budget are: 
  • Time investment costs for the workplace trainer; the employee, who takes care of the guidance on a day-to-day basis (average of 5% of working time could be used)
  • Time investment costs of trainers
  • Training costs of trainers and other training staff
  • Training costs of apprentices, taking into account any grants and costs of materials
Depending on the country, training costs may be tax deductible. Trade organisations and chambers of commerce may be able to inform you of these possibilities. But there are other benefits to having an apprentice. For instance, revenues generated because:
  • the apprentice performs tasks that can be billed to customers
  • the apprentice replaces an employee on general terms, thereby saving the company the higher labour costs of an "adult" employee
  • the apprentice performs 'domestic' services in the company (which can be compared to the cost of having a skilled worker doing the same tasks)

Not included:
Not included in the foregoing examples are savings on training costs in cases, where the company hires the apprentice after the contract period has expired (after completion of training). 

Click here to download tips and a model for setting up a training budget.

Knowledge and technology
A person, who trains apprentices, needs to know the training goals for the respective qualification. The training company should know how practice and theory are linked to each other and which activities belong to the programme.

If you know what is being trained for and how this is done, you can determine whether the training company has the necessary knowledge and technology for this. Depending on the national situation, the following could be available: 

  • Guidance tools for practical company training.
  • Textbooks (books, Internet, video, etc.)
These resources should be carefully selected, organised and maintained.

The knowledge of the workplace supervisor (the employee who does the day-to-day supervision) is also an important factor. If his knowledge is outdated or inadequate, it needs to be supplemented.

Material and services
A good training company has things well arranged and is aware of the facilities for trainers and apprentices that are necessary for the training process. You should think of (training) materials and tools, but also of the services provided by other parties involved in the training (e.g. school and trade organisations).

A training company should ask itself the following: 
  • What can we do ourselves?
  • What is better to have others do?
  • What should we do together with others?
  • Who can be our partners in the training process?

2 - The workplace