A sector-by-sector review of tools and solutions.
By Brent Skinner
Technology touches every space of the HR outsourcing and operations industry. And who better to give inside scoop on what trends are blazing the trail for the future in every sector of HRO than the top leaders in our annual Baker’s Dozen surveys? No one—that is why we tracked down a duo or trio of experts in learning, background screening, managed services programs, recruitment process outsourcing, recognition, relocation, and talent management. Insight abounds.
How are social media tools affecting the administration of on-the-job learning programs?
Raytheon Professional Services: By their very nature, social media channels typically support “informal” learning—meaning they are most often not tracked or reported in the learning management system (LMS). This creates several challenges for learning organizations. First, it makes it difficult to incorporate these channels into a blended learning solution when the topic requires tracking of completion status or is part of a certification or compliance path. Second, this lack of tracking and reporting makes it difficult to demonstrate return on investment for these types of learning channels using traditional metrics. Lastly, the user-generated content aspects of these channels are usually uncontrolled or unmonitored, which can result in the propagation of information that may contradict the messages relayed in the formal training. While these channels offer a great opportunity to extend learning beyond the formal training event, like any other blended delivery option, they have to be applied in the right way to be effective.
The Training Associates: Social media tools have earned their place as the prevalent means of informal learning. These tools (wikis, blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) are often used to find quick answers to specific learning questions from subject matter experts and aren’t generally meant to replace an entire curriculum. Also, learners need to be cautious as to the validity of the data being presented through social media, as not every contributor is a subject matter expert.
The issue of social media and how they are used has become a fundamental challenge for most organizations. The amount and extent of company oversight and tracking (versus allowing employees to self-govern) are issues that companies grapple with most often. Communities of practice can be monitored, but too much corporate oversight or tracking tends to stifle participation. The best way to overcome this is by creating employee governance to help actively monitor the community so as not to feel like corporate is performing that role. Tools such as Yammer provide companies with the ability to incorporate social media while at the same time keeping it within the confines of the company’s secured IT infrastructure.
In what ways is the new technological environment for learning less dependent on the traditional LMS? Or does a conventional LMS remain central to on-the-job learning?
Raytheon Professional Services: The new technology environment for learning has to support both formal and informal training delivery. For formal training delivery—instructor-led, web-based, and virtual classroom training—the LMS continues to play the prominent role. Because these delivery options tend to focus on “training” the user, the LMS allows learning organizations to track that the training occurred, assess their learners’ comprehension of the training, and report the results. Conversely, informal learning—mobile, social media, video-on-demand—relies less on the LMS because these delivery options tend to focus on providing information to the learner at his or her “point of need” for performance support.
The Training Associates: Organizations aren’t ready to throw out the conventional LMS just yet. Learning management systems are still the best tools for organizations to effectively manage learning in relation to business objectives, and for tracking training and education and identifying skill gaps in their employees. We are continuing to see LMS functionality evolve to better address learners’ needs for quick access to learning. The best learning organizations will take a holistic approach to learning by incorporating browser-based tools and platforms such as social media, SaaS (software–as-a-service), and UGC (user-generated content), into their training and development programs and learning systems.
Given the new technological tools available for learning and training, how can organizations best ensure that they remain compliant with government regulations that apply heavily to this aspect of the employee lifecycle? Are these requirements slowing technological advancement, accelerating it, or a little bit of both?
Raytheon Professional Services: Compliance with governmental regulations requires that training results be tracked and reported.
For formal training programs, this is most often accomplished using the LMS. If organizations wish to incorporate informal learning channels into these compliance programs, they will likely have to include these results in the LMS so that they can be reported along with the formal training results. Validating competency or knowledge transfer can include various elements: choosing a mobile learning platform that synchronizes courses completion and assessment results from the mobile device to the LMS, or using a formal assessment launched from the LMS to validate knowledge comprehension gained from an informal channel. In the end, the LMS still plays a major role in compliance tracking and reporting. This requirement doesn’t necessarily slow the technical advancement of informal tools, but it can certainly slow its adoption rate as a viable component of a technology solution in heavily regulated environments, or at least for curricula that requires compliance reporting.
The Training Associates: Companies whose business relies on compliance with government regulations need to carefully monitor, update, and disseminate this information to employees, as well as provide a means to track employee acknowledgement and understanding of existing, new, or updated regulations. This can be accomplished using a variety of assessment tools that can be housed within the LMS itself and tracked on a corporate level. This also provides for a legally defensible record should litigation ever arise requiring proof that the employee did receive training.