I remember the time …

Cultural shifts in the roofing industry are possible

There was a time in my roofing career when worker safety was not a primary focus. If you owned a roofing company in the 1970s or 1980s, you may have looked at those early days of safety emphasis as just another distraction. Of course, you wanted your team to be safe. Yet you left it mostly up to them (and common sense) to ensure they safely arrived home every day after work. Job-site safety was assumed and, in many cases, ignored.

None of my peers had a safety director in those days.

But now every roofing company I know has a designated and trained safety director. Every company conducts weekly safety training not as an afterthought but with intention. Every company has changed the culture of the 1980s to one where safety is part of the planning and execution of every project. As a result, falls are less frequent, fatalities are rare and serious accidents are minimized. A workplace where safety is part of the culture demonstrates a company's commitment to the men and women who work there and their families.

Imagine what we could accomplish if, just like the shift that took place in safety, we shift our attitude toward worker training. Imagine a future where the professionalism of our workforce is high enough that new workers see roofing work as a career-worthy profession. Imagine the productivity, quality and satisfaction that will result.

I enjoy dreaming about what our industry can achieve when we set our sights on a goal. One thing I dream about is a future where the culture in our companies becomes one of training and investing in the people who work for us.

NRCA is leading the charge in this cultural shift. We have launched a new program to train trainers just as we did for safety directors. Having an NRCA Qualified Trainer in your company to manage the training process and create a culture of training in your company can bring immediate rewards.

One thing that can happen right away is an improved retention rate for new employees. You know what happens to the new guy on a crew: He typically is given the worst work and the most menial tasks. The work is hard, often boring and provides little satisfaction beyond the paycheck. By having an NRCA Qualified Trainer to help the new employee quickly become a productive crew member, job satisfaction goes up as the employee learns new skills and retention improves.

But this is not about training only new hires. You should strive to have your entire team functioning at a higher level of quality and production. This is about making your company the company to work for and, more important, the company people want to hire.

Now that's a cultural change worth accomplishing.

You can be among the first to be a part of this cultural shift. Our first NRCA Qualified Trainer courses will be held Nov. 6-8 and Jan. 22-24, 2019. Both will be held in Rockdale, Ill. More information can be found at www.nrca.net.

Your tomorrow can begin today.

Reid Ribble is NRCA's CEO.

This column is part of News + Views. Click here to read additional stories from this section.


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