In 1999, ELCO conducted a companywide survey. The survey covered a variety of questions including, but not limited to, personal job satisfaction and job training availability. One question in particular, “Is there any other training you would like to receive?”, sparked a complete culture shift in ELCO’s approach to workplace education. Thirteen employees expressed an interest in obtaining their General Educational Development (GED) certificates, more commonly known as the Grade 12 equivalency. This began ELCO’s partnership with Nova Scotia’s Department of Workplace Education.
ELCO has gone on to support employees in achieving the GEDs. We have developed training seminars for written and oral communications skills, literacy skills, supervisory skills training, computer skills training, writing skills training, email etiquette, grammar usage and more.
The benefits of skills learned in these training sessions have been realized in ELCO’s day-to-day operations. When we used to pile our lumber manually, our deal pilers used their communication skills to work out a plan that would eliminate the need for over-time for a task that typically generated over-time requirements.
Our supervisory skills training resulted in the adoption of a companywide supervisory style, “firm, fair and friendly”.
This style of supervision is applied to all company rules and regulations. Each employee is entitled to the same respect and working conditions. This training has also been responsible for the formalization of structured supervisory meetings held every Monday morning. The format for these meetings includes discussions for the daily and weekly production goals, the future investment strategies and safety concerns.
Our GED training resulted in one of the successful employees undertaking a study of the electrical consumption at our planer mill and providing recommendations for change. This employee was not directed to undertake this study, he simply did it for his own satisfaction.
One of ELCO’s senior employees was supplied with an after-hours tutor to improve his very limited reading abilities. He was anxious to learn to read so he would be able to read bedtime stories to his grandson. After much hard work, and with the assistance of his tutor, he wrote a book called, “Mel’s Story”.
“Mel’s Story” was published by Communications Nova Scotia and is now used in the toolkit that the Department of Education makes available to organizations that provide career services to older workers.