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Chamber of Commerce to revamp training programs



Summer Spirit Pass proposed

If you are a participant in the Whistler Spirit Program this year, you probably were one of the almost 2,200 residents to receive a follow-up survey from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce.

The response to that survey was overwhelming, with more than 550 forms returned.

The majority of respondents thought the qualify of service in Whistler was declining, supported the creation of a Summer Spirit Pass with discounts for locals, and were in favour of taking training programs and professional development courses – as long as they have the support of their employers (i.e. time off) and don’t have to pay.

Now the survey is being used as the basis to overhaul the chamber of commerce’s Spirit Program and the way training and professional development programs are offered by the chamber. The chamber has already processed and analyzed the survey results, and is working to create new employee programs that will, at the end of the day, help businesses to keep staff and maintain Whistler’s number one status.

"We have to offer benefits that help businesses to retain their valuable employees, because these employees are a big part of our success," said chamber president Brent Leigh. "We have studies that show that when you give them the opportunity to learn and to advance, employees stick around longer, work harder, and make a greater contribution to the community."

According to Leigh, the Whistler Chamber of Commerce has increased the number and diversity of courses offered in recent years, but participation was poor, and a significant number of courses were cancelled.

"The primary insight of the survey is that people’s schedules and budgets didn’t allow them to take the courses they wanted to take," said Leigh. "We realized that increasing the numbers is incumbent on partnerships with companies who want to participate."

The survey also indicated what courses employees and employers would like to see introduced, and made a powerful case for an incentive program for training, such as the proposed summer Spirit Pass.

According to Don Dewar, the consultant who put together the survey and helped to analyze the results for the chamber of commerce, the bottom line for the resort has always been superior customer service, and that means retaining valued staff members for the long-term.

"One of the keys to retaining employees is for them to feel like they’re gaining ground in their jobs, learning new skills, and beefing up their resumes," he said.

According to Dewar, the perceived decline in customer service is related to the decline in the number of people participating in training courses in the resort.

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