Relias recently visited the Ramsey County Correctional Facility (RCCF) in Ramsey County, Minnesota. The facility has 525 total beds and houses both adult male and female offenders sentenced a maximum of one year. During our visit, we had a chance to sit down and talk to Operations Captain and Chief Correctional Officer Jeff Good. Captain Good has spent 21 years with the RCCF, which implemented online training with Relias in 2011. They have over 190 active users training in the system.
Q. You’ve been using the system for three years, what were some of your biggest struggles with getting training to your staff prior to Relias?
A. I’ve been involved with training here for 16 years. Probably some of the biggest challenges were getting staff to the training because most of it was classroom based; and determining a set budget based on needs. Mainly the important part of it is we needed to get training to our staff, not only to satisfy certain requirements, but in a way that would benefit them and keep things moving forward.
“The flexibility of this system and the ability to put your own training in it—I just think other agencies have to take a look at it.”
Q. You mentioned cost and budget being an issue, what specific budgetary concerns did you have?
A. From a budgetary standpoint, the overall per hour cost. If I have a 25 year employee and he’s making 30 bucks an hour and I pull him off a post for an 8 hour training, I look at that as a cost I’m incurring. On top of that I have to backfill that person. And that cost is hard to track, but let’s say I’m paying overtime to another employee at the 25 year level at time and a half. Not only have I pulled one employee off to get him in to training, I’m backfilling that person, so now I’m also paying another half job position in addition. All of this while managing a very small budget seemed like an impossible task at times.
Q. Now that you’re using online training and live training together, what are some of the big benefits you’re seeing?
A. Earlier on, training was limited by the amount of staff to implement training, so the main focus was typically on correctional officers. But in a facility our size, we have a lot of entities like support staff, clerical, medical, case workers, volunteers—all of those individuals needed specific training as well. Moving to online training, it enabled me to still get training to these other areas. Additionally, it was a huge benefit to give staff the ability to train on their post. So now I can save my classroom-based training, which is the most expensive way to train staff but still necessary, for more crucial training. And it makes it easier to justify the dollars spent. Now I don’t have to stretch my dollar as much, and can bring in more training I hadn’t been able to before.
“I think one of the biggest things that I really found beneficial was the deadlines I can set through notifications that go out … and it’s done without a lot of maintenance.”
Q. Since you’ve brought on Relias, have you noticed a change in opinion about training amongst your staff?
A. I’ve actually had staff take the trainings on their own outside of what I’m requiring from them, and I get a lot of feedback saying “hey that was a really good course”. You’d expect that with classroom training—if you have a good curriculum you hope that you get good feedback, but you’re usually asking for it. I’m getting that verbal feedback without even asking. I’ve had people come up to me and tell me how well the training was put together. As a person being involved with the training that’s rewarding to hear. They’re taking it upon themselves to seek out more training from the system and retaining knowledge from it.
Q. What part of the Relias training system has helped improve your day to day operations?
A. I think one of the biggest things that I really found beneficial was the deadlines I can set through notifications that go out. It’s all automated and I have staff being told through warning emails that, “you’re getting down to the wire—you need to complete this course”. So it’s just the ability to hold people accountable. And it’s done without a lot of maintenance; I just have to set the parameters and it’s done. I just got the email today telling me who hasn’t yet completed the first quarter mandatory classes. I actually had 3 officers who hadn’t completed them yet so I just send those officers an email, and if there’s a reason or they need help with something, they can let me know. It frees up my time and makes training delivery much more efficient. But I’m looking forward to doing a lot more with the system.
Q. Do you have any follow up or questions for me?
A. Small or large agencies, we all deal with the same thing—lack of staff, staffing—everyone’s doing more with less. But they still have to get their training out. The flexibility of this system and the ability to put your own training in it—I just think other agencies have to take a look at it.