Preparing the Workplace for the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Since its troubling December outbreak in Wuhan, China, the Coronavirus has gained more and more public awareness as it continues to spread across the world. 

The virus was declared a “public health emergency of international concern” by the World Health Organization on January 31st, and the CDC, as well as other public health organizations, are expressing increasing concern regarding the disease. 

As a result, the CDC has henceforth issued travel notices encouraging people to take the necessary precautions when traveling to Hong Kong, Iran, and Italy, given the rise in COVID-19 cases within these countries. 

What is COVID-19 and how dangerous is it?

To be clear, the virus itself is called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and it is responsible for the illness now known as the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

Coronaviruses are part of a larger group of viruses that are typically common among animals, and it is rare for them to spread from said animals to humans. Regardless, it has certainly found its way to our species. So, how do you know if you have it?  

Patients to date have typically expressed certain symptoms that range from mild to severe. 

Mild:

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Dry cough

Severe:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Organ Failure

It’s worth noting that some people infected with the virus have only experienced a runny nose or sore throat, while others still haven’t shown any symptoms at all. 

Why? It’s likely because those individuals have stronger immune systems.

It was also reported that, among the 82 deaths that were linked to COVID-19 in Wuhan, 80% of the victims were over the age of 60, and 75% of them had health disorders that made them more vulnerable to the virus (high-blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, etc).

Strategies Employers can use to Prevent COVID-19 Infections in their Workplace

COVID-19’s impact hasn’t yet reached the levels of China or Italy in the U.S. but there’s still a concern that it could reach a pandemic stage here. Rather than trying to hastily react to the problem as it continues to spread, it’s best to take preventative steps to minimize risk as much as reasonably possible. 

Here are some steps that employers of local government organizations can take to keep their workplaces free of the outbreak:

Encourage sick employees to remain home

If any employees show signs of acute respiratory illness, it is recommended that they stay home and return only after their symptoms are gone. 

This may sound like common sense, but a recent Accountemps survey reported that 90% of employees will go into the office despite being unwell. 

Encourage clean hygiene in the workplace

We don’t mean simply bringing up clean hygiene during a Monday team meeting, but rather taking proactive steps to make it easy for members of the workplace to keep things clean.

This looks like providing tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles, providing alcohol-based hand rubs around the office, and doing routine wipe-downs of the most germ-ridden objects like keyboards, doorknobs, etc. 

Advise employees who are traveling to take preventative measures

It’s advised that employers ask their employees to check themselves for symptoms of acute respiratory illness before and after traveling. 

Consider Teleworking Options

If the cause for concern is great enough in your area, it’s worth investigating the viability of teleworking options for your employees. Remote work is already gaining popularity in modern work culture, so for many, telecommuting wouldn’t be too drastic of a change. 

Attending meetings via video calls would allow employees who are showing symptoms of COVID-19, but still feel well enough to work, to interact with their coworkers and attend important discussions. This way, no one gets left behind. 

Reacting Appropriately in Light of the COVID-19 Outbreak

It is always important as employers of local government organizations to remember the rights of your employees and to protect them when necessary. One unfortunate impact of the spread of COVID-19 is the rise of anti-Chinese sentiments. 

People in countries including Malaysia, the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Canada have all reported instances of anti-Chinese racism. A British citizen named Sam Phan wrote in the Guardian

“This week, my ethnicity has made me feel like I was part of a threatening and diseased mass. To see me as someone who carries the virus just because of my race is, well, just racist.”

For this reason, local government organizations should make sure that Chinese employees and American-Chinese employees are not discriminated against during this time of heightened tension. 

Because of these unfortunate incidents, it may be a good time to cover the anti-harassment policies of your organization or re-conduct the relevant training altogether.

If you don’t currently have the proper training materials or simply need some help getting started, our enterprise training solutions may come in handy. 

Our online courses provide a slew of convenient features that allow employees to go through training without slowing down their day-to-day. 

Does this sound like something you could use? If so, don’t hesitate to explore our available compliance and risk management courses here.

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Exploring State Anti-Sexual Harassment Laws in the Wake of #MeToo

It has been a few years since the #MeToo movement went viral across the United States. In response to the outcry for change, many states took action by passing legislation aiming to prevent future cases of sexual harassment in the workplace. 

The impact of these legislative measures varies, ranging from laws that curtail the use of non-disclosure agreements to requiring sexual harassment prevention training within businesses. 

The purpose of this article is to inform you of which states are making changes now and in the near future so that employers can properly prepare local government organizations appropriately, and in so doing, avoid any hefty fines that follow noncompliance.  

Let’s take a look at the states which have made the most significant changes to their legislation.

Illinois 

On January 1st of this year, it became required for businesses in Illinois to provide annual training on how to identify and prevent acts of sexual harassment in the workplace as part of an omnibus bill called The Workplace Transparency Act. 

Companies that don’t comply with these legislative changes will be hit with potentially severe fines, ranging anywhere from $500 to $5000.

While it was initially required that businesses with at least 15 workers adhere to the law, on July 1st of 2020, it will change so that even a business limited to one worker will need to comply. 

Understandably, many employers have been caught in a panic trying to fill this training gap before the July 1st deadline. 

California

On January 1st, 2019, California passed three laws: SB 820, AB 3109, and SB 1300.

The stated purpose of these laws was to limit any employers’ efforts to prevent business disclosure information, especially when relating to unlawful acts and sexual harassment cases in the workplace. 

It’s also required that any employer that has five or more employees must provide preventative sexual harassment training to their staff.

The law was initially going to go into effect on January 1st, 2020, but that deadline has since been delayed to January 1st, 2021 in response to the business community voicing their need for more time.

Unlike its Illinois counterpart, this law will not require the training to occur on an annual basis. Instead, employers must repeat the training once every two years.

New York

Recent anti-sexual harassment laws prevent employers from including non-disclosure provisions in settlement agreements as a way to resolve claims of sexual harassment. 

The recent legislation also prohibits New York employers from including provisions that mandate pre-dispute arbitration claims of sexual harassment within employee contracts.

The law also declares that any clauses in existing contracts that mandate arbitration of sexual harassment claims are null and void.  

As in Illinois, New York employers will be required to provide training annually.

Delaware

On January 1st, 2019, the Deleware law H.B. 360 went into effect, requiring employers with 50 or more employees to provide interactive sexual harassment training and new employees must receive said training within one year of employment. 

The training would thereafter need to be repeated once every two years. Also as of January 1st, 2019, all Deleware employers are required to distribute sexual harassment notices to current employees and new employees at the beginning of employment. 

Maine

Although Maine has required employers to provide sexual harassment training for quite some time now, this state like others made a point to update its training laws in 2018, though the requirements are slightly different from other states that share similar laws. 

Maine’s anti-sexual harassment training laws require that employers with 15 or more employees must provide training to new employees subsequent to one year after hire.

Employers are also required to use a provided checklist during the training as a way to help define sexual harassment and to summarise the topics that each training covers.

Additional States

Although the states listed above have made the most substantial changes to their legislation regarding sexual harassment laws, there’s a total of 15 that have made initiatives in that direction.

  • 13 states have made laws that limit or prohibit employers from making it a requirement that employees sign a non-disclosure form as a condition for employment or as part of a settlement agreement.
  • Five states expanded the reach of workplace harassment protection to include interns, graduate students, and even independent contractors. 
  • Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Oregan extended their statute of limitations for filing a harassment claim. 
  • 11 states enacted anti-sexual harassment measures such as mandatory training and policy requirement for employers. 

Takeaways for Employers & Future Outlook

While the #MeToo movement may not be getting as much coverage as it did when it went viral in 2017, its impact is still present across the country.

A report created by the NWLC in July 2019, stated: 

“In October 2018, on the one-year anniversary of #MeToo going viral, nearly 300 organizations aligned against sexual harassment and sexual violence came together to call for strengthened protections against sexual harassment and violence at work, and schools, homes, and communities–demanding concrete advances in “20 states by 2020.”” 

For employers, this means that even if your state has yet to update its anti-sexual harassment laws, you can likely expect these changes to arrive at your doors in the near future. 

However, instead of waiting to change your policies in reaction to new legislation, why not take preemptive action? 

While each state will have its own requirements regarding anti-sexual harassment policy and training, we’ve created relevant courses that go above and beyond most minimum requirements for both management and employees. 

Like much of our quality online training material, these courses conveniently provide you with an assignment due-date configuration, email reminders, as well as full course completion status reporting whenever you need it. 

If this sounds like something you could use at your local government organization, feel free to view our available compliance and risk management courses.

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Meeting the Rising Demand for Data Science Professionals

 

If anything new has become apparent in the 21st century, it’s that data is eating the world at a faster pace than ever before. It’s estimated that internet users generate approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every single day, and that number is constantly rising. 

Projections suggest that by 2020, there will be 40 trillion gigabytes of data in existence. To provide even greater perspective, a 2017 study showed that 90% of all data present in the world today was generated only in the past 2 years. 

However, this data is unless there’s someone who can make sense of it. 

Companies are beginning to utilize big data to help make more calculated business decisions, and those who fail to do so may inevitably struggle to keep up with the modern age. 

This is why organizations all over the world are scrambling to fill their data science positions, a task that is uniquely difficult given the myriad of skills needed for an individual to fulfill the responsibilities of the role, such as: 

  • Python coding
  • Advanced statistics
  • Proficiency with the Hadoop Platform
  • SQL Database/Coding
  • Apache Spark
  • Machine learning and AI
  • Data visualization

And given the fact that data science as a field is still in its infancy, that list of needed skills will only continue to grow in size. 

Why Local Governments Need Data Scientists 

Big data is used for a multitude of tasks, from predicting hurricanes for pre-emptive evacuation to giving you appropriate recommendations on your Netflix feed. 

For local governments, big data can be used for making a variety of data-backed decisions that can help reduce traffic congestion, lower crime, improve the environment, and of course, make intelligent budgeting choices. 

Dubuque, Iowa, a city with a population of 58,000, took advantage of big data as early as 2009 during an effort that increased the city’s revenue by $18,000

Their local government managed to accomplish this by teaming with IBM to improve sustainability efforts by installing smart water meters in homes. 

It took time to gather the relevant data, but over time, they were able to learn how their homeowners used water.

They were able to find ways to make water usage more efficient in ways that would have been impossible without big data. 

This kind of impact isn’t limited to Dubuque, Iowa. Local and big governments around the world are making the choice to create a foundation for intelligent decision making via their investment in big data and data scientists. 

Can Organizations Fill the Need for Data Scientists?

Although the benefits of big data are plenty, local governments won’t be getting any of them unless they acquire people equipped with the skills and experience needed to analyze and understand the data. 

It’s become more and more apparent that a career in data science is becoming increasingly promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests that there will be nearly 30% growth in the field of data science in the coming years.

The result of this projected growth means the creation of nearly 50,000 jobs in the field of data science, most of these jobs filling the needs of private and government organizations. 

The incentives for individuals to develop the skills for data science are not exactly lacking, either. According to Glassdoor, “data scientist” is the highest-paying entry-level job within the USA, the median base salary starting at $95,000.

Although there’s projected growth in this field, many organizations are still in great need of talent today. And for many local governments and businesses, their need for data scientists is simply too great to wait any longer. 

For this reason, many organizations are turning to in-house training to develop their own talent. Doing this is often difficult and time-consuming unless a third-party is brought in to assist with the training, which in itself may end up hurting their budget. 

Individuals within their organizations can go back to school to acquire the relevant skills, but school is more expensive than ever, and many people–especially professionals–don’t have the time to invest in college classes given that they’re already entrenched in their present careers. 

An ideal solution would be a training program available online and on-demand, allowing individuals to learn at their own pace while providing a solid framework that’s cost-effective for individuals as well as organizations.

The good news is that you’re experiencing that solution at this very moment, 

Enterprise Training has an extensive list of Information Technology courses that cover a variety of topics including Apache, Blockchain, MySQL, and so much more. 

ETS learners gain access to over 60 state and national affiliations, as well as accreditation courses, and we also offer IT certifications to solidify your expertise in the data science field. 

If you’re interested in positioning yourself for a promising career in data science while making a positive impact in your organization and the world, begin your training today from the comfort of your own home. 

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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Improve the Environment and Your Career with a LEED Certification

When planning your career path, it takes foresight to predict what the future might hold in store. For facilities management professionals, the future is green. 

Acquiring LEED certification is one of best ways to evolve with the industry (and environment) at large and put you in a position to keep your career path trending upwards.

The certification is recognized globally across 165 countries and over 2.2 million square feet of buildings are receiving LEED certification every day. 

Even the International Labor Organization has projected that over 6.5 million job opportunities are going to be generated as a result of green construction projects by 2030. 

As more companies and nations rally to handle the environmental crisis, which is one of the greatest threats we face today, any LEED-certified professional will likely be guaranteed work for many years to come. 

This is true for anyone involved in building construction and management – whether you’re a construction worker, architect, or facilities manager.

To understand precisely why LEED certification can have such an impact on your career, it’s important to have industry context and to understand what LEED certification is. 

What Does LEED Certification Stand For?

The acronym stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The certification program is used as a form of quality control; assessing a building’s design and construction based on a number of factors including:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Building materials
  • Access to public transportation
  • Responsible land usage
  • Air quality
  • Water usage

The program itself is sponsored by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). If a building project participates in the program, they can be awarded four different levels of LEED certification, depending on how many points they score on the exam:

  • 40-49 points = LEED Certified Buildings
  • 50-59 points = LEED Silver Buildings
  • 60-79 points = LEED Gold Buildings
  • 80+ points = LEED Platinum Buildings

Why LEED Certification Can Improve Your Career

LEED is significant because it operates as a third-party verification system, meaning every project involved with a LEED-certified professional is vetted through an extra layer of accountability.

In other words, even if a construction and design agency guarantees that a project will adhere to high standards regarding sustainability, LEED certification makes sure those standards are in fact being met.  

There are many tangible reasons to acquire LEED certification, not least among them being financial benefits. 

Between 2015-2018, the USGBC reported that LEED-certified buildings saved an estimated $1.5 billion in energy costs: $145.9 million in water, $715.2 million in maintenance, and $54.2 million in waste!

The USGBC also reported that buildings that are LEED-certified are worth 4% more than buildings that are not. In the end, having the certification serves to benefit everyone involved in building projects, from the project managers to the tenants themselves. 

The certification itself is the most difficult of its kind to acquire, which is why those who do become LEED-certified are recognized as a cut above those who don’t. 

In fact, having a record of LEED-certified projects on your resume can quickly grow your reputation as a thought leader within the construction and facilities management industries as well as the movement towards a sustainable future. 

So, what steps should you take to get there? 

Getting LEED Certified

To acquire your LEED certification, you must pass the official LEED certification exam provided by the Green Business Certification, Inc. Instead of a one-size-fits-all exam, you have the option to take five different tests:

  1. Building Design & Construction
  2. Operations & Maintenance
  3. Interior Design & Construction
  4. Neighborhood Development 

Technically speaking, there isn’t a prerequisite class required to take these tests, but it’s highly recommended to come prepared since they’re difficult to pass.

While there are a number of colleges and universities that offer LEED certification courses, it can be difficult for you to find the time necessary to go back to school as a working professional. 

A solution does exist, however, and you’re reading it at this very moment. 

Enterprise Training is an official USGBC education provider, and we offer on-demand courses dedicated to LEED certification which you can consume at your pace from the comfort of your own home. 

As an ETS Learner, you’ll also receive access to over 60 state and national affiliations and accreditations courses, the completion certificates, and the ability to print course materials for later reference. 

If you’re interested in becoming LEED certified to improve your career while building a more sustainable world, start your free trial of Enterprise Training today. 

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SWOT Analysis and Your IT System Security

Is your government organization’s IT system secure?

This is something that may be difficult to properly determine due to the constantly evolving nature of IT systems in general. 

Why? 

Because the security standards that were in place during the initial set-up of your IT systems (or even when you last updated them) may no longer meet the standards of today. 

Given the rise in cybersecurity attacks in recent years, properly assessing the security of these systems may mean the difference between enjoying another smooth workday and having to deal with a troubling data breach. 

A simple way to evaluate the security of your IT systems is through the use of a SWOT analysis. For anyone unfamiliar with the acronym, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

The exercise involves the identification of internal and external issues that work in favor of or to the detriment of the health and security of your IT systems. 

This approach to IT security works best when performed systematically which, in short, means defining your security objectives before initiating the SWOT analysis. 

These objectives can be anything from reducing the chances of cybersecurity breaches to determining the vulnerability of your organization’s Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

There are many options to choose from, but a good rule of thumb is to ensure that whatever objectives you set can be measured with relevant metrics. 

Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to take a closer look at some example Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats that may be relevant to your local government organization.

Strengths 

For smaller local governments, one strength can be the size of the organization. 

A larger organization can have more loose ends that are difficult to tie down, while a smaller organization may be nimbler, have tighter internal communication, and be easier to keep secure.

Another strength may be the number of IoT devices in use, such as cameras, routers, etc. Does your data center exist in a climate-controlled environment? If so, this would also be a strength since it increases system reliability, which reduces potential downtime. 

Weaknesses

Determining the weaknesses of your organization’s IT system can be a bit trickier than pinpointing its strengths. 

Most weaknesses tend to be technical in nature, and as a result, they can be as small as having poor cable management or as large as lacking an overall patch management system. 

The important thing when identifying weaknesses is to ensure that they are well-defined so that it is easy to act on them. 

Some other weaknesses might include a lack of antivirus programs, not employing a reasonable number of staff on tech support, or not having a defined security culture within the organization.  

Opportunities  

Unlike weaknesses, identifying opportunities for your IT systems can be a fairly straightforward process. Are there new software tools that can improve your security? What about tools that could automate previously manual processes? 

Does your organization have a surplus of funds, and if so, would it make sense to allocate them to your IT department? Such opportunities are typically low in cost and can save your organization a vast amount of time, money, and energy if acted upon.

Threats

Threats, like opportunities, are generally easy to define. For instance, open Wi-Fi connections are an obvious threat as they grant network access to individuals with malicious intent. 

Another threat that is easy to overlook is the age of your computer systems, since older systems may slow productivity and result in unnecessary downtime. 

Depending on the location of your organization, it may be prudent to consider environmental threats to your IT systems. Would your data centers be susceptible to damage via earthquakes? What about hurricanes? 

Identifying these threats may also help you recognize opportunities. For instance, if most of your data centers are on-site, it may make sense to experiment with cloud storage. 

How to Begin Your SWOT Analysis 

The first place to begin a SWOT analysis is with a good template, which can be found in the document linked here. There are other templates online that may better suit your organization, so feel free to look elsewhere. The next step is to begin the security assessment.

Attempting to assess the security of your organization’s IT system can be a difficult internal task for many reasons. One reason may be that your team is too close to the problem to clearly see it. Another might be that your entire team is too busy to deal with it appropriately.

These barriers, among others, are why hiring an experienced outside assessor could help. Someone with expertise in this area would be able to smoothly analyze all four parts of your IT system’s SWOT without much difficulty. 

If your organization has neither the time to handle a full SWOT analysis on your own, nor the budget to hire an external assessor, don’t worry. 

Another viable exercise is to set up a two-day workshop where everyone within the IT department of your organization brainstorms a list of strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats. 

This would by no means be as thorough as a formal SWOT analysis, but the effort could still go a long way. 

The most important thing is to take action sooner than later, especially since the number of cybersecurity threats aimed towards government organizations is only going to increase as technology inevitably continues to advance.

Expert Cybersecurity Tips on Demand

Understanding how to conduct a formal SWOT analysis is important, but it’s only one facet of protecting your IT system from cybersecurity attacks. 

To continue your learning, ETS offers a wide selection of quality videos, ebooks, and courses covering a variety of IT and management-related topics.

Become proficient in relevant subjects such as phishing, malware, ransomware, and more. You’ll gain access to the knowledge needed to improve your system’s security so that, when the next threat comes your way, you’ll be more than ready. 

Schedule your free consultation to learn more.

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Top Government Facilities Management Trends in 2019

The Government facilities management trends in 2018 will encourage new technologies and responsibilities for FMs

Editors note: We’ve updated our trends list for 2019.

From the public sector to the private, facilities managers roles and responsibilities are changing.

It used to be about simple building maintenance.

Now it’s about construction planning, energy management, and workforce efficiency.

We’ll help you navigate the changing face of facilities management by going over the top Government facilities management trends in 2019.

But before we do, let’s clearly define facilities management.

What is Facilities Management?

According to the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), facilities management is:

A profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure the functionality of the built environment by integrating people, place, process, and technology.

A facilities manager (FM) is responsible for making sure the building and everything in it (people and objects) function properly and harmoniously.

IFMA has laid out 11 core competencies that every facilities manager should acquire:

  1. Communications – Management and oversight of the development and use of the facility communications plan
  2. Quality – Development and management of the creation and application of standards for the facility organization
  3. Technology – Ability to plan, direct and manage/oversee facility management business and operational technologies
  4. Operations and Maintenance –  Ability to assess and manage the conditions and operations of the facility
  5. Human Factors – Development and implementation of practices that support the performance and goals of the entire organization
  6. Finance and Business – Management and oversight of the financial management of the facility organization
  7. Emergency Planning and Business Continuity – Plan, manage and support the entire organization’s emergency preparedness program
  8. Leadership and Strategy – Ability to lead the facility organization, plan strategically, and assess the services needed to meet organizational requirements
  9. Real Estate and Property Management –  Ability to develop and implement the real estate master plan
  10. Project Management – Ability to plan and oversee projects
  11. Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability – Ability to plan, manage and support the entire organization’s commitment to protecting the environment

With these skills, a facilities manager can ensure the successful operation of the building and everything in it.

Beyond these skills, there are new tools and methods for facilities management that are being developed every year.

Below, you’ll find the newest emerging facilities management trends in 2018 for the public sector (although they apply to the private sector as well).

Government Facilities Management Trends in 2019

1. Outsourcing Continues to Rise

According to CBRE, by 2025 the outsourced market in FM services will be worth $1 trillion globally – making this a major trend that must be noted.

As more private companies move advisory and transaction services, facilities management and project services to one supplier and point of control, services vendors are increasingly adding outsourcing services to their portfolios.

According to Ian Entwisle, CEO of  EMEA Global Workplace Solutions, beyond cost savings their clients “increasingly choose their supplier with the intention of building a partnership and platform for collaboration and innovation; the focus is long-term.”

Should this trend carry over into the public sector, smart Facilities Managers would do well to look to organizations like EMEA to build these partnerships.

How?

Entwisle suggests starting at the beginning of the supplier relationship.

“Rather than the outdated RFP and presentation process, we are increasingly co-solutioning alongside our prospects and clients.”

2. IoT Continues to Take Over

Especially as mobile carriers begin their 5G rollouts this year, providing the infrastructure to support a growing Internet of Things market, IoT will gain a strong foothold in facilities management over the next four years.

According to analyst firm Gartner, a total of 20.4 billion connected “things” will be in use by 2020.

For facilities managers, this ultimately means “smart buildings” with lights, sensors, HVAC units, windows, doors, and CCTV all integrated into a building’s network will soon become the norm.

Beyond the convenience for employees that can be found in devices like Amazon’s Echo, IoT devices will also be generating data that can be used to increase productivity and efficiency – meaning data analytics and network security and infrastructure expertise will become necessary compontents of a complete facilities management team.

3. Cloud-Based Integrated Facilities Management Systems are Becoming the Norm

As part of the management and analysis of all that data, facilities managers are increasingly choosing cloud computing and storage over in-house infrastructure, as the benefits in security, stability, and cost efficiency continue to rise.

According to a senior analyst at market research company Technavio, 

“The cloud-based facility management solutions allow securing hosting of critical data along with advantages such as improved security and scalability and quicker disaster recovery. Cloud computing provides a cost-effective solution, which allows the companies to recover critical server data from backups stored on a shared or private cloud host platform.”

For facilities managers, the cloud computing trend comes in the form of Integrated Workplace Management Systems.

While facilities data has traditionally been siloed, allowing managers to focus on a single aspect of the workplace at a time, today workplaces have too many interrelated data sources for this to be effective.

The new cloud-based integrated approach allows facilities management teams to make better decisions by understanding how one aspect of a work environment affects another.

For example, open floor plans affect space utilization on the one hand and employee productivity on the other.

By viewing workplace factors like this from both lenses, facilities managers can make better decisions for both employees and cost management.

4. Employee Experience is Being Emphasized

As modern companies raise the bar for what employees expect from a workplace, smart facilities managers know they need to consider the employee’s perspective when making decisions in order to cultivate a talented workforce.

A chief trend this year is a wider adoption of the concept of the “experiential workplace.”

From individual workstations to collaborative group spaces, personal areas and recreational spaces, every part of the modern workplace is being designed to address the question “how does this benefit employees to maximize engagement and productivity?”

The key idea behind this: employees who feel valued and accommodated will produce better work.

At the same time, rising real estate costs are driving organizations to make better use of their existing workspace. Tools like hot desks, agile spaces, and activity-based workstations enable facilities managers to better utilize their square footage – while improving the employee experience.

5. Increased Regulatory Focus on the Implementation of “Green Technology”

47 states and a few territories and cities use the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) as a model for operating their facilities. It’s adopted in accordance with the regions Governmental codes, but sets a standard by which regions can regulate effective facilities managers.

The 2019 IECC focuses much more on energy-efficient technologies and systems – emphasizing ease of use and conservation.

This facilities management trend towards greener technology means that FMs will be required to track their buildings energy inefficiencies, and consider newer, better upgrades and installations for less costly energy emissions.

6. The Need for Government Leadership Development and Government Succession Planning is Rising

According to Jones Lange LaSalle, the average age of facilities managers is 49, while the general working population average mean age is 43.

Here’s the worst part:

Less than 1% of millennials are planning a career in facilities management.

This means facilities managers are creeping toward retirement and no one will fill their positions.

To counteract this trend, you should increase your Government leadership development and implement a strong Government succession plan.

Government Facilities Management Requires Cutting-Edge Training

If you’re a budding Government facilities manager or in charge of developing facilities managers, then you know that training is essential.

All Government FMs must be Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act (FBPTA) compliant.

We can help you do that.

From the basics of facilities management to sustainable energy efficiency, we provide authorized training to help you or your employees become FBPTA trained.

We’ll even provide LEED certification and completion certificates.

If you want to keep up with Government facilities management trends, then check out Enterprise Training below.

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Top OSHA violations: the 10 Most Frequently Cited in 2019

Keep your workplace safe by knowing and avoiding the top OSHA violations for 2017

 

Editor’s Note: Top violations listed updated for 2019.

Late last year the list of top OSHA violations for 2018 was released at the National Safety Council’s annual Congress & Expo.

The list comprises the most frequently cited violations observed by OSHA’s inspectors during Fiscal Year 2018.

The list remained largely unchanged from 2016 and 2017 reports, so while we’re still a few months away from the latest report to be issued during this year’s NSC Congress, managers can expect these issues to largely remain a priority this year.

Here’s the full list including the number of violations for each:

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501):  7,216 violations
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 4,537
  3. Scaffolding (1926.451): 3,319
  4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 3,112
  5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 2,923
  6. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,780
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 2,281
  8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503): 1,978
  9. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,969
  10. Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection (1926.102): 1,528

As Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, said during his 2017 presentation:

“One thing I’ve said before in the past on this is, this list doesn’t change too much from year to year. These things are readily fixable. I encourage folks to use this list and look at your own workplace.”

In that same spirit, here are the top 10 OSHA violations you should know about to make your workplace safer for all employees.

Top OSHA Violations #1: Fall Protection – General Requirements

The Fall Protection section sets forth requirements for employers to provide fall protection systems.

According to OSHA:

“The employer shall determine if the walking/working surfaces on which its employees are to work have the strength and structural integrity to support employees safely. Employees shall be allowed to work on those surfaces only when the surfaces have the requisite strength and structural integrity.”

Make sure you provide your employees with proper fall protection gear every time they’re working at unsafe heights.

Top OSHA Violations #2: Hazard Communication

The Hazard Communication section attempts to “ensure that the hazards of all chemicals produced or imported are classified, and that information concerning the classified hazards is transmitted to employers and employees,” according to OSHA.

OSHA designed their requirements to match those of the United Nations Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).

OSHA suggests that you create “comprehensive hazard communication programs, which are to include container labeling and other forms of warning, safety data sheets and employee training.”

Top OSHA Violations #3: Scaffolding

The Scaffolding section outlines how a scaffold ought to be constructed for optimal safety.

For example, part 1926.451(a)(1) says “each scaffold and scaffold component shall be capable of supporting, without failure, its own weight and at least 4 times the maximum intended load applied or transmitted to it.”

Top OSHA Violations #4: Respiratory Protection

The Respiratory Protection section involves the “control of those occupational diseases caused by breathing air contaminated with harmful dusts, fogs, fumes, mists, gases, smokes, sprays, or vapors, the primary objective shall be to prevent atmospheric contamination,” according to OSHA.

It applies to general industry, shipyards, marine terminals, longshoring, and construction.

You’re required to provide appropriate environmental controls (like ventilation systems) and/or effective respiratory protection devices (like respirators) when your employees are working around hazardous airborne pathogens.

Top OSHA Violations #5: Lockout/Tagout

The Lockout/Tagout section covers the servicing and maintenance of machines and equipment in which the unexpected energization or start up of the machines or equipment, or release of stored energy, could harm employees,” according to OSHA.

Your role in protecting employees here is to train them to shut down machines properly, or quickly shut down a machine if it starts up accidentally. You should also conduct periodic inspections of equipment to ensure everything is in working order.

Top OSHA Violations #6: Ladders

The Ladders section outlines requirements for all ladders, including job-made ladders.

For example, part 1926.1053(a)(1)(i) says that each self-supporting portable ladder must sustain “at least four times the maximum intended load, except that each extra-heavy-duty type 1A metal or plastic ladder shall sustain at least 3.3 times the maximum intended load. The ability of a ladder to sustain the loads indicated in this paragraph shall be determined by applying or transmitting the requisite load to the ladder in a downward vertical direction.”

Top OSHA Violations #7: Powered Industrial Trucks

The Powered Industrial Trucks section “contains safety requirements relating to fire protection, design, maintenance, and use of fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks powered by electric motors or internal combustion engines.”

Any trucks that you use that are designated in this section must adhere to the standards laid out in the American National Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks, Part II, ANSI B56.1-1969.

Top OSHA Violations #8: Fall Protection – Training Requirements

The Fall Protection – Training Requirements section requires employers to “provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards,” according to OSHA.

Your role is to help all of your employees understand the hazards of falling and train each of them in the procedures outlined in this section to minimize the danger of falling.

Top OSHA Violations #9: Machine Guarding

The Machine Guarding section details these requirements:

“One or more methods of machine guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards such as those created by point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks. Examples of guarding methods are-barrier guards, two-hand tripping devices, electronic safety devices, etc.”

Your job is to protect your employees from injuring themselves by guarding all unsafe and dangerous objects, machines, or points in your workplace.

Top OSHA Violations #10: Personal Protective and Life Saving Equipment – Eye and Face Protection 

These standards address personal protective equipment for workers exposed to face and eye hazards including chemical gases, vapors, and flying particles.

The top section cited (accounting for 1,474 violations) was 1926.102(a)(1), which reads:

“The employer shall ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards from flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, or potentially injurious light radiation.”

How to Comply with the Top OSHA Violations

If you want your agency to comply with OSHA’s requirements and not violate any of their mandates, then you’re going to need top-of-the-line training from an organization that specializes in Government Elearning.

You can use our safety health programs to quickly and effectively train your employees to adhere to OSHA’s standards.

From fall protection to hazard communication, we have all the courses you need to stay compliant and keep your workplace safe.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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Adult Learning Theory and eLearning: Why and How to Educate Yourself Best

Remember what famous rockstar Alice Cooper told us?

“Schoooooooool’s out! Forever!”

He was right…sort of.

While traditional school may be over for you, the thing you did in school – learning – probably isn’t.

Like most working adults, you may have decided to continue your education.

Or, perhaps you haven’t yet and know that you should.

Well, in today’s post we’ll go over why adults continue learning (adult learning theory), how adults effectively learn, and the #1 method for learning every adult can benefit from.

So first up, the reason for continuing education.

Why Adults Continue Learning

There are many reasons why adults decide to seriously learn new subjects and skills long after graduation.

We list the 3 most common reasons below.

To Advance Their Career

Probably the biggest reason adults undertake learning initiatives is to move up the ladder in the organization they work for.

This is especially true if you work in a culture of continuous learning.

The fact is, ongoing education makes you more valuable as an employee. You will inevitably know more than your peers, be able to do more than them, and be able to take on the greater responsibilities that come with a promotion and raise.

Of course, expanding your education also makes you more marketable.

Consider licenses or certifications like the CISSP certification. That goes a long way in helping you find a better job or get the accreditation you require to move up in your agency.

To Keep Their Minds Active

Beyond career goals, many adults decide to further their education in order to keep their minds active and healthy.

According to the Association for Psychological Science:

“New research indicates that only certain activities — learning a mentally demanding skill like photography, for instance — are likely to improve cognitive functioning.”

A psychological scientist and the lead researcher Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas goes on to say that:

“It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something—it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially. When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.”

Learning new skills, even in the work environment, will provide the stimulation needed to keep your mind healthy.

To Earn a Degree

For some people, they need to continue learning to get the degree they never got, and may need.

This may for career advancement, but it may also be personal.

More often than not, we learn things for reasons that have nothing to do with making money or advancing our careers. Rather, many people continue learning to prove to themselves that they can do it. To feel a sense of personal achievement and to receive the honor of that achievement, like a degree from a good university.

Whatever the reason, it’s never too late to continue learning, which is what we cover in the next section.

How Adults Learn (Adult Learning Theory)

What regular people call adult education, famed American educator Malcolm Shepherd Knowles called Andragogy – a synonym that basically means the art, science, and theory of adult learning.

Knowles became famous for penning his “5 assumptions of Adult Learners”:

  1. Self-concept – While children have a dependent concept of self, adults see themselves as self-direction.
  2. Adult learner experience – The more an adult has learned, the more knowledge an understanding they can bring to the next subject.
  3. Readiness to learn – An adult’s readiness to learn is more dependent on their social roles than on their physiological development, like it is in children.
  4. Orientation to learning – Adults orient themselves around learning in terms of immediate application.
  5. Motivation to learn – The most powerful motivator to learn comes from within for adults, while external motivators like a promotion or a raise also play a role.

These 5 assumptions tell you how adults should approach learning, but not the methods for learning itself.

That’s what we touch on in the next section.

Why eLearning is the Best Option for Adult Learning

Adults can use books, videos, in-person trainers, lived experience, and a host of other ways to actually take information into their brains and learn it.

But the #1 way…

The way that matches Knowles’ 5 assumptions of adult learners…

Is eLearning.

It allows adults to learn in short bursts on their own, called microlearning.

It’s more effective than other forms of learning.

And it’s one of the cheapest options out there.

If you need to implement an adult learning platform in your agency that covers every topic under the sun from IT to project management, then get your free trial of Enterprise Training below!

 

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Why Soft Skills Training Matters (And How to Give It to Your Employees)

When managers think of training, they often think of hard skills. Technical skills.

The skills that “get the job done.”

And those skills are very important.

But there’s a range of skills that matter just as much, or as we’ll show you later, matter more than hard skills.

And those are soft skills.

The kind of skills that have to do with the way you think, the way you behave, and how you interact with other people.

Which leads to the natural question:

Why Do Soft Skills Matter?

West Monroe set out to answer that same question by surveying 1,250 individuals across two surveys made up of 600 HR and recruiting professionals and 650 full-time employees who regularly work with their company’s technology teams.

Here’s what they found:

  • 98% of HR leaders say soft skills are important in landing a technology position. In fact, they think they’re so important that 67% say they didn’t hire technically qualified candidates because they lacked soft skills.
  • Verbal communication and collaboration were ranked as the most important soft skills.
  • Once hired, most companies don’t invest in developing their technology professionals’ soft skills. Nearly one-quarter of companies provide soft skills training to line-of-business employees, but not to IT.
  • HR leaders consider leadership to be the least important soft skill for prospective technology hires.
  • Technology employees often don’t ascend the career ladder, with 39% of companies lacking a technology background in the c-suite.
  • 43% of full-time employees say soft-skills-related challenges with IT have negatively impacted their work.
  • Collaboration-based issues have delayed or prolonged a project for 71% of respondents. One-third of employees have missed a deadline altogether because of communication issues.

It should be clear now why soft skills are important. But before you can start training your employees in these skills, you need to know what skills to train them in.

What are Some of the Top Soft Skills?

LinkedIn recently surveyed 291 hiring managers in the U.S. and the majority of them (59%) believed that soft skills were difficult to find.

So they “analyzed the soft skills listed on the profiles of members who job-hopped (defined as a member changing their employer on their LinkedIn profile) between June 2014 and June 2015 to identify the most sought-after soft skills among employers.”

According to the results of their findings, the most in-demand soft skills are:

  1. Communication
  2. Organization
  3. Teamwork
  4. Punctuality
  5. Critical thinking
  6. Sociability
  7. Creativity
  8. Interpersonal communication
  9. Adaptability
  10. Friendly personality

And these were the least in-demand soft skills:

  • Business planning
  • Cross-functional team leadership
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Team building
  • Coaching
  • Management
  • Analysis
  • Team management
  • Resume writing
  • Business

A study coming from Google confirms some of these skills.

In 2013, Google wanted to understand what qualities their top employees all possessed.

Shockingly, STEM expertise came in last.

The other seven characteristics were:

  • Being a good coach
  • Communicating and listening well
  • Possessing insights into others (including their different values and points of view)
  • Having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues
  • Being a good critical thinker
  • Being a problem solver
  • And being able to make connections across complex ideas.

So there is without a doubt a very high need for soft skills and not enough employees have them.

The question is…

How Do You Conduct Soft Skills Training?

By giving them the ability to learn soft skills at their own pace at work, home, their commute or anywhere else.

Soft skills take time to learn and practice.

It’s not the same as hard skills where you can memorize a fact or process and put it into action.

Soft skills need to be refined. You need feedback from your peers as you try new communication methods, new ways to think about problems, different ways to engage and lead people.

You need a training platform that’s flexible and can be used on-demand.

Like Enterprise Training.

And if you try out Enterprise Training for 14 days free, you can gain immediate access to our top soft skills training course:

Smart Leadership, parts 1-6.

Along with hundreds of other leadership and professional development courses.

If improving soft skills is a goal for your organization, start your free trial of Enterprise Training today.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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How the National Safety Council is Reducing Workplace Deaths

Workplace deaths are traumatizing.

For both the agency and the worker’s family.

Those wounds take a long time to heal.

That’s why a commitment to workplace safety, injury reduction, and smarter technology is the way forward if you hope to protect your employees.

The National Safety Council (NSC) recently announced their plans for creating safer workplaces, and we cover their initiative later in this article.

But before we see the solution, let’s examine the problem.

Below we’ll take a look at fatal workplace injury statistics so you understand the gravity of the situation workers and workplaces are facing.

Workplace Deaths Statistics

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were a total of 5,147 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2017, down slightly from the 5,190.

Transportation issues were the leading cause of workplace fatalities, accounting for 40% of workplace fatalities, totaling 2,077 deaths.

The second-leading cause of death were fatal falls, totaling 887.

But as bad as these are, we do have good news.

The Silver Lining in Workplace Fatal Injuries

While those statistics prove that there is a lot of work still to do to protect workers and continually reduce workplace deaths, there is a silver lining.

The number of workers dying from fatal injuries as part of their job has been radically reduced.

According to data collected by various sources and presented by the CDC:

  • The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that in 1912, between 18,000 and 21,000 workers died from work-related injuries.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1913, found that approximately 23,000 workers died in the industrial industry at a time when the workforce was made up of 38 million people. That means there were 61 deaths per 100,000 workers.

However…

  • According to a different report from the National Safety Council, between 1933 and 1997, deaths from “unintentional” work-related injuries declined by 90%, from 37 per 100,000 workers dying to 4 per 100,000.

That’s incredible.

What’s more, the actual number of deaths decreased from 14,500 to 5,100. And while this was happening, the workforce tripled from 39 million to 130 million.

What made the difference?

The National Safety Council would say it’s a mix of various organizations such as unions, government agencies, and advocacy groups.

But they would go on to say that another big factor is technology.

Which is why they’ve launched Work to Zero.

What is Work to Zero and How Will They Reduce Workplace Deaths?

The NSC recently received a $500,000 grant from the McElhattan Foundation to launch Work to Zero 2050, an initiative to “eliminate death on the job by the year 2050.”

Their goal is to not stop until all fatalities have been “eradicated.”

How do they plan on achieving this ambitious goal?

By accelerating the development of essential technologies and training programs, and piloting and evaluating them for efficacy.

These technologies include:

  • Wearables
  • Robotics
  • Virtual and augmented reality
  • Automation and artificial intelligence

Plus much more.

The plan for the future is for Work to Zero 2050 will accumulate and execute actionable knowledge needed to implement the best technology for saving lives.

What You Can Do Now to Improve Workplace Safety and Decrease Workplace Deaths

The NSC has a lot of work to do and it’s going to benefit your organization or agency in big ways.

But you don’t need to wait until 2050 to put better workplace standards into place.

You can start today using our flagship Workplace Safety course.

It will show you:

  • The chief responsibilities for agency heads under OSHA.
  • The responsibilities federal employees have relative to workplace safety in a given scenario.
  • The kind of safety and health training various types of employees should receive.

And much more.

Get the Workplace Safety course as part of your free trial of Enterprise Training below.

Experience the proven, easy-to-use, and cost-effective benefits of online training by scheduling your free online training consultation today!

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