Reimagining training for compliance

How Svea Solar’s Christian Ehrenstråhle ensures fieldwork safety at scale

Rita Azevedo
Strategic Learning Partner Manager

Svea Solar’s mission is to lead a global power shift by providing a smart, innovative, and accessible solar solution to sustainable living. Their accessible solar solutions make it easy for consumers to leave fossil fuels in the past.

The more staff Svea Solar can hire, the faster the transition. But how do you upskill a multinational workforce when 9 out of 10 of your new Installation team hires have no prior experience? And what if those people prefer a job where it's less desktop, more rooftop?

These are just some of the important questions that Christian Ehrenstråhle has tackled head on in his role as Global Learning and Development Lead at Svea Solar. I sat down with Christian to discuss the role of blended learning in compliance training, the relationship between learning and career development, and how Svea Solar is growing a safe, skilled, and loyal workforce.

Standardizing safety

At Svea Solar, every employee out on the field needs to know that their safety is our top priority. That includes our Installers, Team Leaders, and Electricians. They all deserve the same knowledge, training, and support — whatever their location. We’ve achieved this by formalizing our Installation team’s onboarding into a month-long, standardized training program. One month may sound like a lot, but our industry is competitive: if we’re not supporting our staff effectively, we risk high rates of churn.

Today, our onboarding program for our Installation teams runs across 3 markets. Sweden is our biggest market; our Installation Teams eNPS ratings have gone from zero to +24 during 2022.

What does our standardized onboarding look like? Let’s take our Installers. These are the people who are up on customer’s roofs. It’s vital that they know how to work safely and correctly, right from the start.

Here’s how we help our Installers to learn the Svea Solar way:

Svea Solar’s compliance onboarding schedule

  • Preboarding

    1. Welcome message from our CEO, thanking them for joining our mission to rid the planet of fossil fuels
    2. A ‘what to expect on your first day’ email
    3. Our Power Shifter movie (well, we’re all Power Shifters at Svea Solar)
  • Day 1: In-office

    1. An introduction with their leader
    2. After lunch, start their standardized safety trainings in Sana
  • Weeks 1 - 2: Learning on the job

    1. Shadowing a team to learn daily safety, the installation process, and how to manage customer contact
    2. Undertaking digital and interactive learnings on Sana
  • Weeks 3 - 4: Learning at the training center

    1. Beginning with safety learnings
    2. Reinforcing the learnings they’ve been making digitally
    3. Practice installations on our test stations and practice roofs
    4. Practicing customer interactions

No matter what team a new Installer joins, no matter what country they are in, they each have access to the same knowledge and training. Everyone’s access is equal and the quality is consistent.

Making compliance engaging

Engaging large groups of new hires in safety compliance can be challenging. Add in the variables of different languages, differing safety legislations, an average age of 20-30 years, people who prefer active work, and who aren’t office based – there are a lot of needs to consider.

To make our training engaging, we use a three-step process: role specific courses in Sana, on-the-job learning, and hands-on IRL learning at the training center. The transition from theory to practice creates an engaging learning experience that consolidates our employee’s knowledge.

Let’s take the example of working with heights. When any Installers work on a structure higher than 2 meters, there’s a risk to their safety. We make it easy for our new hires to be safe, and in compliance. Here’s how:

Svea Solar’s 3-step blended learning approach

Role specific compliance training courses - in Sana

It's crucial that all new hires know how to work and act safely right from the first day. Sana makes this possible. We reinforce the learnings by using interactive features like polls and quizzes to test scenarios such as “What height do you need to use for protection?”, or, “Which fall protection can you use?” Here, every Installer’s experience is different because Sana’s AI adapts the course to each person’s knowledge level.

On-the-job-training

We invest the first 2 weeks in all our new Installers to give them on-the-job training to learn daily safety in a controlled way.

IRL learning, supported by Sana

Here we reinforce statutory requirements in real life. Installers repeat the steps they’ve learned through their digital and interactive learnings in a physical setting. These hands-on sessions are where we make sure that our Installers can work correctly and safely on roofs. They also teach Installers Svea Solar's way of working, of how we install panels, and our standards.

At Svea Solar, we’re constantly reinforcing safety training. The hands-on learnings reinforce the digital learnings. And with all the digital learnings in Sana, every learner can access the most up-to-date safety knowledge whenever they need it, and take refresher courses. It’s a virtuous circle.

Blended learning, safer learning

A visit to a Svea Solar training center is one of the most memorable parts of our onboarding experience. Today, we have 3 centers – 1 in Sweden, 1 in Spain, and a temporary center in Germany. As we grow, more centers will be created. Think: great big hangers, real sized test roofs, high scaffolding, and lots of equipment for our Installers to get familiar with. It’s an immersive experience that gives our Installers the opportunity to learn how to work safely. And this is important to us, as 9 of 10 of new Installers have no earlier experience with installing solar panels. We have to be thorough.

The first thing we teach Installers is how to conduct a full risk-analysis based on the property, the location, and the weather. After all, the Installer’s workplace is a customer’s house. And every house is completely different, with different risks. Like the weather. Many of our installations happen in the Nordics, where wind, snow, and rain are common. It’s essential to teach people how to handle safety equipment in controlled conditions. An Installers’s first experience with a safety harness should always happen in a safe environment — we need to embed the knowledge of what safety looks like, and even how it feels. ‘Does my harness fit?’, ‘Does that rigging look safe?”. We answer these questions at the training center.

Next, we teach the Installer about personal safety. Everyone learns personal fall protection while fully roped and harnessed, and in a safe, controlled setting. Everyone receives full CPR training, learns how to help someone whose ropes leave them hanging. Everyone gets to know and practice how to build scaffolding safely, and effectively.

Every Installer should learn how to identify when they might not be working safely. This both helps people to be confident in raising concerns. It also helps them to understand their colleague’s concerns. By the end of their training center experience, our Installers know how to be proactive and reactive. They’ve bonded as a group by learning and socializing with each other. And that adds to the employee experience, too.

Reinforcing safety while building bonds

Onboarding is about more than acquiring new knowledge. It’s also about connecting with your new colleagues and company culture. At Svea Solar, we try to combine the two through group activities.

Take our installation tests at the training center. One exercise is to install panels on a test roof. We split the Installers into two teams, and leave them to it (under supervision, to make sure everyone’s safe). Of course, both teams want to win — and that healthy competition leads to positive energy, trust, and connection. These bonds are important for increasing safety, too — it’s easier to hold someone accountable to good practice when you trust them.

On top of creating connection, we use these group tests to reinforce safety best practice. When the teams complete their task, we ask them – how long should this installation take? More or less every time, their answer is wrong. The teams both completed the task more quickly than they expected. Why? Because, when teams work the Svea Solar way, the installation time drops significantly. Our way teaches Installers a workflow that is safe, and effective. By asking our Installers what they think, and showing them how much quicker their work can be, everyone learns that the safe methods are also the effective methods. It’s a win-win.

Sharing knowledge, retaining talent

Our emphasis on learning and knowledge sharing is helping us to retain amazing talent. I’ve seen people move quickly from Installer, to Team Leader, to Hub Manager. We're such a fast growing and moving company – if somebody has the ambition, there are lots of opportunities to grow with Svea Solar, and take on new roles.

Learning is the competitive advantage that we have above the smaller companies that don't have the same resources. So it's really important to attract new hires, to 'Grow as we grow.' That way we can really keep the workforce – especially those who love delivering manual work.

Delivering an onboarding that’s legally compliant, in many countries, and for people who’d rather not sit at a desk? It’s a huge challenge.

But when we center the learning needs of our people, and make the user experience intuitive? That’s when we bring learning to life, and make sure that everyone is working towards achieving our mission – to rid the planet of fossil fuels.

Sana for compliance training

Compliance is more than risk management. Sana helps you turn your annual compliance programs into actual behavior change.

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