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How an investment in training paid off for one Utah city

Updated: Mar 15

The March issue of APWA Reporter magazine contains a fascinating case history authored by the retired public works director from the city of South Jordan, Utah that points to the compelling value that training can provide, even in times of budgetary restrictions. This bedroom community of Salt Lake City, which has a population of about 50,000 people, provides tangible proof that training isn't an expense, but rather an investment that can yield a variety of positive benefits. Direct savings cited in the article include:

  1. A reduction in costly equipment damage and loss - $10,000 in the first year

  2. A reduction in the number of lost workdays due to personal injuries - this saved the city the equivalent of two full-time positions

  3. The lowest increase in insurance rates in the entire state of Utah - which saved the city tens of thousands of dollars Indirect savings experienced by the South Jordan Department of Public Works included:

  4. Improved employee morale

  5. Improved employee buy-in and cooperation, helped in part by including them as part of the city's Safety Counsel

  6. The ability to fund additional training initiatives out of the savings from the first year's training programs

Conference education - another part of the training picture This article also highlights the benefits of sending selected employees to industry conferences, where they learned techniques that saved the city additional money. In one case, an employee attended an APWA Snow Conference, where he learned the importance of calibrating salt spreaders and the advantages of pre-wetting roads with salt brine. By implementing these two techniques, the City of South Jordan was able to slash its cost of salting per lane mile during snow events by two-thirds.

Seeking ideas from employees In addition, the article points out an important by-product of improving employee morale: Because workers felt more valued, they shared ideas that helped the department of public works to further increase its efficiency and responsiveness. In several cases, employees looked at commercial solutions that were available and instead cobbled together home-built solutions that worked just as well at a fraction of the cost of new equipment. Faced with a tight municipal budget, the City of South Jordan has succeeded in saving money AND increasing its service levels. It did so by investing in training, encouraging employees to be creative and seeking ideas and best practices from other parts of the industry (training in its broadest sense). Increased knowledge usually reveals new opportunities to work more efficiently, safely and creatively. These are techniques that any municipality can employ to obtain similar results. Interested in stepping up your training? See: all of our possible training programs on the "Training Products" link on our VISTA homepage.

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