December 15, 2020
Lee GouldEmployee training is synonymous with professional development. Many professions require clear and verifiable annual on-going professional development. Improving knowledge is one of the best ways to advance a career. Why should the winter maintenance industry be any different?

When things get financially tight in business, training is often the first thing to get cut from the budget. However, this is often not a sound business strategy, especially within competitive business and demanding environments.

Training and developing your employees could be critical to the future success of your business for a variety of reasons.

Years ago, it was enough to know the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic. These skills are no longer enough for any one of us to succeed in today’s ever-changing marketplace. Today, we have to continue to demonstrate our ability as individuals and businesses to provide professional solutions in a rapidly changing technological, social and economic landscape.  

For employees to be efficient, productive and adaptable, new and enhanced skills are required, such as:
  • Critical thinking and problem solving.
  • Communication.
  • Collaboration.
  • Creativity and innovation.
As a professional, you understand that people are an organization’s biggest asset, and key to achieving its  goals. This is especially true for the winter maintenance contractors. All the new equipment, be it “live-edge” plow blades, GPS systems, trucks, etc., are meaningless without knowledgeable and dedicated people. The research is clear: Effective training designed specifically for your organization can provide employees with essential next-generation skills, while bringing with it a host of business benefits.
Some critical reasons why any business should invest in developing a professional and knowledgeable workforce through regular investments in employee training include:

Increased employee value

While effective training/professional development can be used to “up-skill” or “multi-skill” your employees, it can also attract employees. In a competitive sector like winter maintenance, employees often have choices and will seek out employers who are willing to make investments in the growth of their people. Up-skilling involves extending an employee’s knowledge of an existing skill, providing more experts within a subject area. Multi-skilling is the process of training employees in new or related work areas to increase their usability within the organization. Employees with diverse skill sets can perform a variety of tasks and transition more easily into other roles within an organization.

Reduced attrition rates

Attrition in the winter maintenance profession can be a real challenge. Investing in the development of employees can reduce attrition rates. Well-planned training can provide career pathways for employees, thereby reducing attrition. A tangential benefit is a reduction in the expense (both time and cost) of recruitment and employee onboarding.

Enhanced operational efficiency

Training employees can increase their efficiency and productivity. Training can also help your organization achieve greater consistency in process adherence, making it easier to project outcomes and meet organizational goals and targets. This is especially important in the context of the litigious environment winter maintenance contractors face. Ensuring that employees fully understand best management practices (BMPs) can offer a due-diligence defence to slip and fall claims.

Exceeding industry standards

They are called Best Management Practices (BMPs) for a reason. Training employees in industry-standard BMPs builds your professional reputation, and can offer differentiation to competitors that can be demonstrated. Increasingly, the commitment an organization has to its people and best management practices is a request included in tender responses.

Supports succession planning

Providing ongoing employee training and development supports succession planning by increasing the availability of experienced and capable employees to assume senior roles as they become available. Increasing your talent pool reduces the inherent risk of employees perceived as “irreplaceable” and leaving the organization. Areas of training that support succession planning include: leadership, strategic decision making, effective people management, and role-specific skills.

The Smart About Salt Council (SASC) is a unique not-for-profit dedicated to helping the winter maintenance industry. SASC offers affordable award-winning training grounded in best management practices online, by webinar and in-person. The training programs are the foundation for recognized certification and verification efforts.

Those wishing to learn more about the unique programs and services offered by the Smart About Salt Council (SASC) are encouraged to visit On the website people can quickly sign up for training which is priced at $375 (less than the price of a cup of coffee a day) and “Register Intent to Certify” $226.

Lee Gould
Executive Director, Smart About Salt Council