• upkeeptraining

Furlough Could Be Training Opportunity

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

The government’s Job Retention Scheme, commonly referred to as Furlough, has been widely used in the housing sector. Around 10-20% of housing association staff who are usually employed in a range of roles are currently furloughed. In many circumstances it is because their job roles are directly connected to providing client visits that cannot currently take place.

There are strict rules on furloughed staff in respect of being unable to provide services for their company. This includes access to work related emails. However they can undertake online training and a period of furlough is an ideal opportunity for employers and employees in respect of this. When the pandemic is over, housing companies will be playing catch up for several months as they reintroduce all of their services, meaning there is likely to be less time for training then.

Furloughed employees could make use of the time away from their workplace by undertaking refresher training, seeking new knowledge and skills to be used in their role, or becoming prepared for the ‘different kind of normal’. All of these can be of considerable advantage for housing sector companies, their staff and clients.

Online training for furloughed staff

Training at this time can be good for the morale of furloughed employees, giving them a sense of belonging with their organisation, reminding them they have not been forgotten. Even though training at this time can only be provided online, it still has the potential to bring staff together and is a good team bonding exercise.

An additional advantage of undertaking training during furlough is that it can be done without any additional work pressures. Sometimes attendance at training courses can be disrupted by unforeseen work challenges that may affect concentration. There is no danger of that occurring here, although to be fair such situations may well be replaced by a child or pet seeking attention.

Upkeep Training is adapting to the new ways of working and for the foreseeable future are offering a number of our regular courses online, while we are also working on others that are in keeping with the changing times. They are priced at £210 per attendee, which compares favourably to the £295 usually charged for face to face training.

For several months or even years, visits to tenants' homes are likely to be severely restricted, in some cases limited to emergency repairs only. This makes it even more essential that the correct diagnosis is made by at the reporting stage so the right operative is sent out, ensuring time spent in homes is kept to a minimum. Our Repairs Reporting Skills course is perfect for this, teaching staff how to use diagnostic questioning to determine defects and raise necessary orders. In addition to helping improve the client experience, it ensures they and staff stay safe in these uncertain times.

Further trade specific courses are available for staff who may work in more distinct areas. Courses in Domestic Electrical & Heating Installations and Plumbing, Wastes & Drains will both be available online during the next few months. These courses teach an understanding of the components of these systems and terminology used, helping to identify defects so that orders can be processed correctly, minimising any risk.

Online courses for furloughed staff

The Covid 19 pandemic has changed the way we live and work in so many ways. However it hasn't changed the way properties behave. Repairs and routine maintenance will also be necessary, potentially even more so if clients are spending more time at home. It has changed the way housing companies need to go about delivering their service and although home visit to carry out inspections may be more preferable, adaptation is necessary when lives are at stake. However, it is possible for staff to continue that service if they develop the right skills, thus maintaining the standard of homes, client confidence and most importantly saving lives.

Upkeep Training has had a fantastic response to our online courses. Basic Building Construction, which gives a good grounding into how homes are constructed, common defects and how to diagnose them, was soon fully booked and we have set up three more sessions.

Full details of Upkeep's online courses for May and June including booking details can be found here. All courses are delivered via Zoom and allow for comfort breaks, questions and interaction with other attendees just as if you were in the training room. We would love some of your furloughed employees to join us and develop more skills so they are refreshed and ready for the challenges faced when they return.

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