If your new hires are falling asleep during orientation, it may be time to revamp your program.
One word that makes everyone in HR a subject matter expert is orientation. This termcurrently part of the onboarding processmeans a lot of things to everyone. The last time I checked, orientation to Disney meant a required four-day (4-day!) session for its theme park employees. At the other end of the spectrum are those brief, 45-minute orientations, where the subject matter expert (or a small team of experts) races through a catalog of details concerning the minutiae of the different prices for lost limbs according to the rate chart for the organizations up-to-date accidental death-and-dismemberment coverage. Then there are those orientation programs that cover retirement in a lengthy session, despite the fact that the person just started and may not even be eligible for retirement benefits.
And dont forget the HR professionals who love one-on-one orientation sessions, all the while complaining that they have too much work and too little time. This situation always grows heated when, in an effort to reduce the demands on HR, the one activity they really love doing (the orientation sessions) is often the first to be cut.
It is important to remember, though, that none of the various orientation options above take into account the most important factor: Extensive research has shown that a new employee would much rather be starting his or her on-the-job responsibilities than sitting through an orientation.
Despite the challenges of orientation programs, however, research conducted by industrial psychologists consistently shows that an effective orientation program has staying power. Results have shown that an effective orientation program has a direct impact on employee turnoverwith those undergoing orientation more likely to stay with an organization longer than one year (usually the most difficult period for the new employee).
The question you should be asking is whether it makes more sense to use an outside provider for this all-important activity. How do you determine if entrusting this function to outsiders is important to your effectiveness in this activity?
As Stephen Covey, author of the enormously popular The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, says begin with the end in mind. Do you recognize what constitutes an effective orientation program? Many believe the process is so important that organizations should really have a series of orientation programs. There are two reasons for this: First, intermittent training works best, and second, many successful training efforts have shown that less is more. With more than one session, you dont have to worry that everything will be covered. If it werent so sad to see how often well intentioned HR professionals insist on piling a ton of information on new employees, it would really be comical.
Your next step should be to employ gap analysis. What would effective orientation training look like? What would the results include? What would the results be immediately after training? How about three and six months later? Also consider your current new employee turnover. If there were a better orientation program, how do you forecast turnover levels decreasing for new employees? What other metrics should you consider that could be tied to effective orientation?
Next, see what best practices employers are doing. Then network with vendors to see who offers what. When you learn of a program that you want to explore further, request the opportunity to witness it firsthand and ask how its effectivenes is measured.
At this point, you will have an understanding of what the marketplace has to offer. Compare those results with your current internal program. If you have a strong program, then you could do two things: First, see if there is anything else you want to offer or anything you want to change to make your program even stronger; second, consider (if your program is so effective) whether it is a core competency for your organizations HR program. If this is so, that fact should be shared not only as part of your internal branding initiatives but also with the outside world. When you become a provider of orientation programs elsewhere, as Disney has so successfully done in partnership with SHRM, generating revenue is certainly achievablethough hopefully it wont result in four-day orientation programs!
Regardless of the outcome, examining the effectiveness of orientation efforts is a valuable exercise to undertake periodically. You avoid doing so at your own peril.
Dont get phased out of the big picture.
Listen to that faint, distant rhythm. What youre hearing is the sound of impatienceexecutive impatience. Leather soles pacing on hardwood. Fingertips drumming on desk. Pencils tapping on coffee cups. And, its getting louder. Corporate executives from
Executives tell us, and prove through their continual support of training, that they believe in the value of learning. They believe committed and capable employees drive the results that shareholders demand. Executives want training to work. But theyre not convinced that their training organizations are delivering the goods. They are right to be skeptical.
Businesses spend billions on training, but what is the tangible return on that investment. Do we have anything more than neatly framed certificates that prove we attended a Sales Strategy class? More competitive wins? A better close rate? Improved customer retention? More revenue? Somethinganythingthat flows to the bottom line? No? Listen to that tapping!
In companies around the world, the timer is expiring on trainings feel-good charter, measuring success by how training participants feel when they complete a class. Theres a brave new world of expectations taking root these days, where training can and will be measured on real business results, and where training is expected to deliver economic and strategic value on every investment.
Meeting these new expectations requires much more than producing better training courses. It requires transforming the traditional training operation into a customer- driven, results-hungry, value-producing machine. It requires dramatic changes in the way training interacts with the rest of the business. I call this new modus operandi running training like a business, but whatever we call it, it changes the training game forever. Training will transform from a backroom support function to a strategic tool, fully aligned with the companys central business plans. Running training like a business produces training that is more effective in driving the desired business results with more cost-and-time-efficiency. In short, it quiets the sounds of impatience that ring in the ears of training leaders.
Because of continuing changes in business itself, the need for change in training has never been more urgent. The rate of change in business accelerates every year, yet in recent decades, training has evolved only in small ways. It is worrisome in itself that many in the training and development world consider the philosophy of running training like a business a radical one. This perception indicates that the training and development sector is lagging behind the rest of business, where the demand for results has driven efficiencies and innovations that energize the bottom line. Technology, having revolutionized virtually all other business functions, is altering fundamentally how training is designed and delivered. Business leaders, encouraged by technologys impact in other areas of their companies, have higher and often unmet expectations for trainings marriage with technology.
Pushed by its customers and pulled by technology, training needs to take bigger, bolder stepseven experimental onesto keep up with the business at large. Relentless improvement must become the battle cry for training, because ultimately much more is at stake than the patience of company executives. Training organizations that fail to keep up with business face a battle for survival, and companies that cant deliver valuable training to employees may in turn find themselves fighting for survival in the markets they serve.
Making the transition to running training like a business is a formidable undertaking. The planning is intricate; the implementation is exacting. In many ways, it is as challenging as opening a new business, because that is essentially what is involved. The transition demands hard work and total commitment.
These challenges notwithstanding, I can say unequivocally that running training like a business can silence the rhythmic tapping of executive impatience. No approach responds so directly to the interests and expectations of senior management, line managers, and shareholders. Training organizations fully aligned with corporate strategy and consistently delivering tangible value on every investment can inspire a great deal of peace and quiet.
Intrepid Learning Solutions, the foremost provider of learning and performance
7 rules to follow when implementing a training and development program. Part II
Last months column initiated a discussion on training and development as one more functional area of HR and as an opportunity to expand an organizations reach and impact by seeking external sources to start or enhance internal training efforts. With the limitless opportunities provided by the Internet as well as an organizations own resources, the possibilities that you as a professional have within your reach are now limited only by your own creativity. This month, we look at where to begin undertaking major initiatives in this state-of-the-art approach to one of the most important aspects of HR and the organizations agenda. Expanding on your training and development outline involves seven simple steps. The goal is to not get complicated.
1. The first rule is to start with the end in mind. Determine where you are today and where you should be in the desired state. Make a list of your current offerings. Include everything orientation, OSHA-mandated programs, everything! Start small with a meaningful timeline for your organization. Then, as you become more confident in your approach, continue to expand your reachone step (and one program) at a time.
2. Look at what you will need to get from here to there. Define the details of successful training in terms of effective business results. Think of your training and development team globallyevery available resource is a potential strategic partner.
3. Look for the low-hanging fruit. Identify where you will be able to quickly demonstrate success with improved performance directly related to a training program. Consider the most effective format, keeping in mind the low cost and fast turnaround that may be available if you are willing to use the Internet (and intranet) for some or all of your program offerings. Eliminate any training where effectiveness cannot be measured. By all means, this is not to suggest the elimination of something as integral as orientation. Instead, use it as an opportunity to determine what an effective program would accomplish.
4. Under-promise and over-deliver. Scan the marketplace for the most effective training for your own environment, keeping your understanding of the ability of your workforce in mind.
5. Network to confirm your preliminary findings while seeing what others are doing. Look at all of your mail to determine who is doing what. Scan the table of contents of professional periodicals (in addition to HRO Today, consider HR Magazine, Training, and HR Executive) as possible sources of vendors and programs. Review your hard-copy junk mail for show and conference information, along with local college and university course offerings. Get on e-mail lists to see what offerings are available over the Internet. Enlist your own team and any others identified as training and development advocates throughout your organization to be on the lookout wherever and whenever a terrific training program appears, regardless of the source. Even television programs feature Tom Peters, Steven Covey, and a variety of other personalities who may be effective for your own organizational needs.
6. Survey your organization. Find out what various managers and employees perceive as important needs for themselves and others in the organization. Include senior management and prowl for sponsors, advocates, potential early adopters, and employees who might serve as subject matter experts, as well as potential nay-sayers.
7. Finalize your approach. When it comes down to the finalists (three is a good number), experience the training for yourself if you havent already. See who you want to facilitate the training modulesconsider the greater impact from internal versus external presenters.
While all this is going on, use whatever you have decided to incorporate as the first steps in the process of building a master training plan.
Next month, I will address the third and last segment on the topic of outsourcing training and development: a training program that all organizations should have without exceptionorientation.
RALEIGH, N.C., Feb. 16 – HR-XML’s upcoming New York meeting, April 11-12, offers HR decision-makers a unique networking opportunity and unparalleled access to essential information on how cutting-edge, standards-based technology is shaping the future of HR solutions.
HR-XML’s meeting is part of NY HR Week, which also includes TecHR World, HRO World, the HRO/FAO Executive Summit, NY/HR Solutions Conference and the HROA Annual Meeting. Six compelling HR events in one location!
The HR-XML meeting includes education and working sessions for a range of HR-XML Consortium projects, including benefits enrollment, assessments, competencies, and indicative data for benefits and payroll outsourcing
LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Feb. 14, 2005–Hewitt Associates (NYSE:HEW), a global human resources services firm, announced today it will provide human resources services to Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE:MAR). Under a seven-year agreement, Hewitt will provide human resources business process outsourcing (BPO) services, including workforce administration, benefits, compensation, recruiting, domestic relocation, and learning and development services to Marriott’s 133,000 employees
DALLAS, Feb. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Affiliated Computer Services, Inc., (NYSE: ACS – News), a premier provider of business process and information technology outsourcing solutions, announced today that it has been awarded a human resources (HR) business process outsourcing (BPO) contract with Delta Air Lines, the United States’ second-largest airline. The seven-year agreement is valued at $120 million.
Under the terms of the new HR outsourcing agreement, ACS will provide a broad range of human resource functions for Delta, including compensation and benefits administration, relocation services, recruiting, learning, payroll, HR Information Services, and employee call center services for Delta’s North American employees and retirees
Illinois-based health system sees immediate return on investment after deploying GeoLearning’s ASP-hosted learning platform.
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa, February 8, 2005 — GeoLearning, Inc., the leading provider of Managed Learning Services and hosted learning technologies, announced today that SwedishAmerican Health System, a not-for-profit, locally governed health care system headquartered in Rockford, Illinois, has achieved significant cost-savings and return on investment from deploying its ASP-hosted GeoMaestroT learning management system and accompanying learning services
LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. –(Business Wire)– Feb. 4, 2005 — Hewitt Associates (NYSE: HEW), a global human resources services firm, announced today it has signed a contract with The Thomson Corporation (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC), a global integrated information solutions provider, to provide HR business process outsourcing (BPO) services.
Under a five-year agreement, Hewitt will provide certain HR BPO services in the areas of benefits, compensation, payroll, learning and development and recruiting for Thomson’s 28,000 employees in the United States
The hottest new trend in HRO Training and Learning
View full Training Outsourcing article (PDF)
FINDING TRAINING OUTSOURCINGS IDENTITY
Outsource training? Are you insane?
Actually, no. Training outsourcing is a burgeoning market. Its watershed moment came in 1986 when General Physics inked its landmark training outsourcing relationship with General Motors. Regardless of its mega-deals, training outsourcing has taken the long road to its own identity. With the increase in training business process outsourcing (BPO) deals since 1998, training now has a distinctive place in BPO alongside other human resources (HR), finance and accounting (F&A), and information technology (IT) business process functions. Moreover, corporate trainings focus now extends beyond employee learning to customer education. This increase in trainings scope has resulted in a steep boost in demand for outsourced training services of several flavors.
The Numbers Behind the Story
The data on trainings value is starting to pour in. And here is the bottom line. The growth in training outsourcing is all based on two facts: Training boosts organizational productivity, and outside training providers increase an organizations ability to train more people faster and more cost-effectively than in-house staff.
According to a 2004 report by Accenture, high-performance organizations, representing approximately 10 percent of the organizations surveyed, exceeded their peers in productivity (as measured by sales per employee) by 27 percent more than their competitors, revenue growth by 40 percent, and net income growth by 50 percent.
The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) reported that training spending in U.S. corporations was $826 per employee in 2002, an increase from $734 the year prior.
The Exceleration Group estimates that corporate training expenditures of all types, in-house and outsourced, was nearly $120 billion in 2004. Of this, 42 percent was targeted for employee learning, 52 percent for customer training, and 6 percent for training supply chain interests. The ASTD, in 2003, estimated that 28 percent of all training expenditures go to outside vendors. That indicates that the training outsourcing market exceeds $30 billion.
Like many BPO segments, the training market has seen the start of a significant wave of consolidations. In March 2004, the biggest of the mergers happened when Cincinnati-based Convergys picked up San Franciscobased DigitalThink for $2.40 per share, or $120 million, a 30 percent premium to DigitalThinks share price.
At the time, Thomas J. Starr, senior principal of learning services for Convergys Employee Care, said DigitalThinks capabilities would create synergies for the company by beefing up its capabilities in learning while improving its competitive position in HR outsourcing.
The Convergys acquisition also set the stage for back-to-back Thomson Learning deals in August 2004. In the first of the two deals, Thomson Learning added Capstar, a unit of Educational Testing Service. Capstar develops competency assessment, learning and measurement, and testing solutions for private and public sector markets. The second deal, two weeks later in August 2004, featured Thomson acquiring KnowledgeNet, an e-learning provider, which Thomson merged with its own NETg unit. The two buys, while positioning Thomson Learning as a market share leader, contrasted with Convergys stated goal for its training outsourcing acquisition: to position Convergys to better compete for large-scale HRO contracts. The differing M&A philosophies of Thomson and Convergys reflect the training outsourcing markets conflicts about its own identity. Is training outsourcing a market of its own, or does it comprise a subset of the HRO market?
Follow the Money:
Customers Come First
On Wall Street, the trend is your friend. In training outsourcing, the overwhelming trend is toward investing in customer training. In 2004, TrainingOutsourcing.com writer Paul Harris documented software provider Intuits eureka moment, which caused it to invest heavily in customer training.
Sales of the companys QuickBooks software were suddenly spurting, Harris wrote, and a new analysis revealed why: Professional accountants were referring the product to their corporate customers after taking an e-learning course that made them certified users.
We discovered that accountants who received their ProAdvisor Certification were referring QuickBooks to their small business customers at four times the rate of those who simply use the software, says Rich Walker, Intuits director of accountant and advisor relations. It is a causal relationship.
Launched two years ago, Intuits new customer training initiative is outtasked to Convergys Corporation, the business process outsourcing firm that recently acquired e-learning content provider DigitalThink. Convergys Learning Solutions helped create the courseware and now manages the training via its scalable Web-based platform, the L5 Learning Delivery System. It supplements Intuits classroom training program begun seven years ago with Dallas, Texas-based Real World Training. Intuit, as Harris showed, illustrates the fastest-growing trend in learningthe outsourcing of customer training initiatives.
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