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Shop Talk with Steve
Nothing hurts production like missing employees. People quit or move on, call in sick, come in late, and sometimes they do not show up at all. Having a crew that is versatile, where staff can be moved from one task to another without much notice is worth everything when you are working hard to meet or beat deadlines.

What will limit the ability to assign people to different jobs is their level of training. One way to keep options open for emergencies is to always be training employees for different tasks. Enabling the shop staff to expand on their knowledge base will not only keep the job interesting, it helps the group as a whole. Sometimes you just do not know what certain employees are capable of until you move them out of their comfort zone.

The shop supervisor should look for every opportunity to put a junior employee with a senior one. This will build team work and will give the senior employee the time to show what is expected in labor time for fabrication, as well as the quality level. Through this working relationship, the junior employee will better understand what is required for work ethic, and what it will take for them to move into that senior position in the future.

If you are not prepared to lose a valuable employee at any moment without warning your production is going to suffer greatly for months and possibly even years.

Employees who have to be trained 'under fire' because a key person is gone due to everything from a death in the family to winning the lottery, is not going to learn tasks in the proper manner required to be of good use to the workforce. Take steps to make sure that your shop may run smoothly, whatever the crisis.
Many managers fear training as it adds hours to the project cost accounting that are not productive labor hours. Ask if a certain percentage of the hours expended may be utilized under a training cost code to offset the impact to the projects at hand. In this way, the goal of training may be achieved right along with maintaining fabrication efficiency.
Create a Training Plan
Always be Training............
Create a reward system for completion of certain training values to help create incentive. There are many ways to provide goals for the shop employees to reach.

Helpers can become welders or painters. Some workers may certify for operating specific equipment or learning to read shop drawings. Welders can become layout welders or progress on to become a team leader.

In the end they can have your job so you can take a vacation!
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