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WORK FORCE 2002 -- Building Strength

April 2002
BY CAROLINE MILLER


Building an ongoing training program, even in the best of times, tends to be at the bottom of a printer's to-do list. But, when businesses are faced with economic downturns, it often slides right off that list. However, ignoring employee development can be detrimental in the long run, stresses Greg Morrison, regional training manager for Cadmus Communications.

"Several years ago, we came to the realization that we wouldn't be successful in the long term without investing in our people. Our employees are our most critical resource," he reports.

So Cadmus designed a dynamic training program to address its workers' needs, according to Morrison. "We're not about 'token' training, where you schedule people in an hour-long seminar here and there. Last year, Cadmus employees logged 15,000 hours of training, all of which is designed to help them meet the skill requirements for their jobs."

The Cadmus training system is based on a simple concept. "Our training program is comprehensive, systematic and structured. It's not an arbitrary, skills-based program," he remarks.

Four Key Areas

The Cadmus initiative focuses on four areas: preparation, delivery, evaluation and maintenance. It addresses employee needs at every level—including on-the-job efforts, classroom and hands-on classes, to programs that help develop management and leadership skills, as well as improved customer service.

"So often programs focus on technical skills, but customer service and sales employees are often left behind. We're expanding our customer service training. We are working with them on their 'soft' skills, in addition to the technical training they need to be successful," states Morrison.

This targeted, comprehensive training program has reaped a wealth of benefits for Cadmus. "As people's skills increase, so does the quality of the work they produce. Training also helps address employee turnover because it gives workers a sense of opportunity within the company," Morrison adds. "It instills a sense of a career, not just a job, and promotes job security. They see us investing in the company and in them. It builds morale and, as a consequence, our business and revenues continue to grow."

Unfortunately, programs like Cadmus' are few and far between, contends Susan Reif, the National Association for Printing Leadership's (NAPL's) professional development coordinator.

"It's sad that not many printers are doing much training," she adds. "Unfortunately, when we see a downturn in the economy, training is often the first expense cut. It's the last thing you should eliminate when the economy slows."
 

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