One task confronting every municipality in the State of New Jersey is how to provide appropriate and cost-effective training for its staff and volunteers. The two groups present different challenges for consistent training because of their backgrounds and varying availabilities. The significant financial burdens placed on municipalities increases the challenge to find the dollars needed for training.
At the same time risk management vendors, legal counsel and insurers are becoming more insistent that regularly scheduled, consistent training of staff and volunteers
be provided to minimize potential
litigation and hold down costs.
As a participating municipality in the Mid-Jersey Municipal Joint Insurance Fund, Princeton Township is required to biennially provide employees and volunteers with anti-harassment training. Princeton needed to consider a variety of factors in deciding how to satisfy this requirement. The training needed to:
- be approved by the Joint Insurance Fund;
- be conducted in a finite period of time;
- achieve participation goals of 100 percent;
- to be flexible and consistent across training sessions
- accommodate people who could not make scheduled training sessions due to illness, vacation, work or other reasons;
- be structured in a manner that would also accommodate new staff and volunteers when they started their employment outside the training schedule;
- provide our staff and volunteers the benefit from the training without
disrupting their schedules or adding additional time to already full agendas and
- be as inexpensive as possible.
There had to be a better way than trying to round up everyone for classroom-style training and then scheduling multiple makeup sessions for instructors, volunteers and staff. This approach is costly, achieves less than 100 percent participation and often results in inconsistent training.
Following a discussion with various departments and the Insurance Fund, it was decided that an online training system would enable Princeton to meet all of the goals noted above.
THE TRAINING SYSTEM REMAINS ONLINE
AND CAN BE USED BY NEW HIRES
AND VOLUNTEERS AT ANY TIME
Our web services vendor, City Connections, agreed to provide password protected, secure web directories to post two training videos (one for staff and one for volunteers) on-line and create the online certification forms at no additional cost. The videos were embedded in a web page and an online form was created to certify the video had been watched. Employees and volunteers were provided with a log-on and password to watch the video from either their work station or home. Once on-line they simply entered their name, department, board or commission and email address to begin watching the video.
After watching the video, participants were asked if they had any questions or comments concerning the video and then simply hit the submit button once completed. An email confirmation was then sent to the Princeton Township Human Resources Manager, Carol Colquhoun and to the employee and/or volunteer. According to Carol, employee participation was at 100 percent, including summer-time staff. Of 115 volunteers, currently 109 have seen the training video. Carol added that the feed-back from all involved has been very positive.
The training system remains online and can be used by new hires and volunteers at any time. New videos can be added without additional cost and it is even possible to include other types of online training aids such as e-publications and quizzes at little or no cost to expand and enhance the training experience.
First published in New Jersey
Municipalities, Volume 88, Number 1, January 2011