Profile - How We Train Employees

Continuing Education Is Critical

Mary CurtinStarting a new job can be intimidating, especially for people who’ve never worked in the ad specialty industry before. That’s why successful promotional products companies invest in strong employee training programs – ones that create and build on a solid foundation. “We have a pretty comprehensive program that includes a focus on our company culture and belief system,” says Mary Curtin, vice president of administration at Top 40 distributor 4imprint (asi/197045).

The training program at 4imprint is both detailed and personal, kicked-off in a special presentation for new employees by the company’s president, Kevin Lyons-Tarr. But structured learning doesn’t begin and end on an employee’s first day at the Wisconsin-based distributor. Below, Curtin explains how 4imprint supports its staff members with training throughout their careers.

Q: How are new employees welcomed on their first day at 4imprint?
A: The first day is really a combination of acclimation and administration. We give a tour, provide lunch with a team member and help new employees do things like set up their voicemail and e-mail. We then go through benefits paperwork and some basic training elements.

Q: But that’s just the start of the company’s orientation program, right?
A: That’s right. The orientation itself is presented by Kevin, our president. We introduce industry terminology, background and history, and use a proprietary customer service training program called 4i Care. We also offer an overview of our software systems.

Q: How do you introduce new employees to the people they’ll be working with?
A: We hold a scavenger hunt which helps new hires get familiar with their surroundings and people, and we have them share a bit more about their backgrounds. Plus, we ask new employees what they are expecting from us and what practices they liked at their previous employers. Obviously, there are also modules around what is required for their specific position.

Q: Does 4imprint provide handbooks or manuals to set standards and best practices?
A: Yes, we have both online and offline versions. We also make changes as needed and review policies on an annual basis to make sure everything remains relevant.

Q: Are there cross-training or continuing education programs for current employees?
A: Yes, we have a robust curriculum that comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. We have a tuition reimbursement program and we also offer an array of onsite training classes and programs presented by local college professors, outside training professionals, attorneys and health professionals. They focus on areas like technology, business, communication, personal development, wellness and much more.

Q: How do you encourage employees to improve their skills?
A: Besides the tuition reimbursement plan – which covers college classes, seminars and conferences – over 90% of our training is offered during work hours so our team members are paid for the time spent further developing their skills.

Q: How does 4imprint measure the success of its training programs?
A: We use retention and turnover statistics as well as post-class surveys.

Q: What’s the best advice you have for making employee training engaging and productive?
A: Live the Golden Rule and put yourself in the shoes of your employees. It can be exhilarating and scary to change jobs. Our goal is to make employees feel at home and reinforce that they made the right choice to join our team.