EMPLOYEE TRAINING – EXPENSE OR INVESTMENT?

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EMPLOYEE TRAINING –EXPENSE OR INVESTMENT?

The value of an ongoing training program for a casino’s employees has become even more important in this time of rapidly changing technology, frequent product improvements and enhancements from suppliers. In addition to leveraging new functionally that vendors may provide, it is also important that employees stay educated on regulatory requirements for the jurisdiction or jurisdictions where a casino operates. Ultimately, proper employee training can make the difference in running a high performance organization resulting in the property’s ability to provide a best in class patron experience, while keeping important accountancy and regulatory requirements top of mind.

The need for ongoing training varies case by case, as it could be the result of turnover, new hires or continuing education. A very common example of this situation could be an auditor moving to a new position or choosing to leave the company, quickly training their replacement on the process that they have been following the past several years. Another example could be when a new hire comes to the team and a colleague provides the training for that person. In these two situations, the new person coming on

board is now being trained in how the processes have worked in the past years and perhaps ones that were passed on to the person training, who was trained by another previous colleague. As you can see, with this pattern, processes can get lost or misconstrued in this type of training. It can also result in potential changes in processes that may not have been approved or could be against policies and regulatory requirements.

One approach that can mitigate the “this is how we have done it for years” training is to identify a super user in each department who is provided ongoing continuing education of new features and functionality provided by vendors. This can be the designated person within the department to provide ongoing

follow up to on-the-job training. A super user who is consistently up to date on the products also has the chance to review the procedures and identify any possible changes to them that could allow the company to adopt a continuous improvement philosophy.

One of the most common excuses as to why departments often skip out on training is the lack of time available during the workweek to do their regular job. Many supervisors, managers, directors and above may worry that taking days out of an employees’ work week would reflect in a loss in profitability. However, if we look at training as an investment, instead of an expense, to the organization this can provide a competitive advantage over those other companies that do not invest in training their employees.

If we look at the supporting argument for employee training and continuing education, we can break it down by a work week. Let’s say a week of training classes is being held for a certain department, which can run multiple times over a course of weeks in order to afford the opportunity to those to which the training is applicable, and the whole department is not all out at once. Those five days equates to approximately forty hours. If forty hours of training can result in a refined efficiency of current processes of one hour per day this can result in about 250 hours of saved time per year, which can be allocated to different areas of focus on the bottom line.

In the case of new hires, there should be a consistent initial training and onboarding plan combining

both classroom training and on-the-job training. Training for new hires is critically important for the company as it will assist in the employee feeling comfortable in the new role and minimizes frustration, which could lead to poor performance or overall leaving the job. Employees need to understand the importance of their role and how they will be held accountable and contribute to the bottom line success of the company. Implementing a program upon entry into an organization can help an employee’s confidence in the results they can deliver to the organization. Training early on is critical for those new hires that may have only received a crash course on their job functions and are barely able to complete their assigned job duties, much less excel at them.

Essentially, proper training and ongoing education helps to mitigate some of the most important

risks that hinder an operator’s bottom line. It is well known that people who enjoy going to work every day have true job satisfaction and will contribute at the highest possible level. The opportunity for being trained properly and as often as possible can empower them to contribute new ideas that make the department practices more efficient. By investing the appropriate training in employees, the company will gain specific benefits from training and developing its workers, including increased productivity,

increased employee confidence, reduced employee turnover, and a decreased need for constant

supervision. These are the employees that you want to keep.

Turnover can be a significant administrative cost to the company. If you add up the costs of a person leaving with the loss of job knowledge for their position and the hiring expense to replace that employee, it results in considerable expense, not to mention the loss of productivity. Losing employees can cost the company time and energy to get a new employee trained for the role, as well as being a distraction from supporting the business as efficiently as possible. Therefore, companies should continue to provide the necessary training and ensure proper job satisfaction programs to mitigate this issue.

Examples of some additional continuing education scenarios to further create a strong training and learning environments could include:

Lunch and Learns, where someone with newly gained knowledge of the product, or recommendations of efficiency to a process, can do a sharing session over lunch with fellow colleagues. This approach not only allows employees to demonstrate their skills, but also further provides knowledge transfer to

other employees in the organization. Lunch and Learns also promote an environment of teamwork and collaboration, which is a critical competency for employees in a successful organization.

Inviting a vendor or third party in to train all of the department employees can also provide positive results and strengthen internal training programs. The employees should be completely focused for those days allotted and not consumed with their daily work activities. Again, this provides the opportunity for employees to take advantage of the product’s current and newly enhanced items. These

type of training classes can be either refreshers for employees who have been in that department for years who may not remember the original training and have since created bad habits, or for new hires. This new training can give existing employees an opportunity to juxtapose new and current knowledge, which results in a change that makes theirs and their colleagues’ jobs more efficient and potentially

cut down on time in one or two daily work activities.

Another example could be a newsletter shared within the organization to provide continuing updates to new product functionality or enhancements, which can be incorporated in current daily job functions. In the newsletter, there can also be specific sections highlighting the regulatory and compliance challenges that were further addressed and resolved due to the improved functionality.

In summary, it is important to provide training for your employees in order to be one step ahead of your competitors, in particular those that do not provide it. Although, the initial costs may seem to be an expense to the organization, it can really turn out to be a true investment to mitigate potential operational risks and grow the organization. By having satisfied and loyal employees, it will further

minimize turnover costs and result in better employee retention. Establishing an early training plan and implementing some of the key training examples outlined above will improve organization efficiencies, resulting in a productive organizational operation, continuing success and a competitive advantage.

Josh Cantrell is Founder of and Senior Slot Systems Consultant for Sierra Gaming Consultants (www.sierragamingconsultants.com). He specializes in slot operations, slot accounting / analysis, and slot system support. He has over 25 years of experience working in casino markets around the world

including those in Canada, Mexico, Macau, South Africa, and throughout South America.

Denyse S. Moore is an independent consultant who specializes in gaming technology and customer

service. She has over 15 years of experience in gaming and related industries. She can be contacted at denyse_moore@charter.net.

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