It’s certainly not news that ongoing employee education is crucial to businesses surviving and thriving in competitive and uncertain markets. The delivery of that education, of course, is just as crucial, as different workers respond differently to different modalities.
Technology, then, becomes more crucial, as a means of reaching large and varied workforces in various ways. Major corporations today are tapping into technology to educate their associates in costeffective, timesaving ways that ensure success, build enterprise productivity and make ongoing education more than feasible.
Tim Conlon, corporate director of learning and work environment and chief learning officer for Xerox Corp., is charged with providing learning services for the nearly 80,000 employees working worldwide for Xerox. Individual workgroups oversee their own content needs, but Conlon works with them to provide the technological backbone for delivering all that education.
“With traditional delivery of training that was dependent upon a classroom environment- taking people out of the field and bringing them to a centralized location- the time spent in travel and cost of time out of the field is substantial,” Conlon said. “Now a significant amount of training and development can be done virtually.”
Conlon’s teams are practicing what he’s preaching:
– Xerox completes 75 percent of its sales training online.
– In North America alone, 70 percent of all Xerox training happens online.
– Xerox offers its workforce 200 custom courses and 1,500 offtheshelf courses, all online.
– The emerging leadership program targets highpotential managers. What started as a twoyear program requiring four oneweek classroom sessions is now facilitated virtually. It’s now a four to sixmonth program with just one or two oneweek classroom sessions. That’s brought Xerox a 60 percent reduction in time and cost.
This commitment to virtual training, Conlon said, brings Xerox cost savings and higher productivity, allowing employees to utilize more development opportunities.
“With traditional learning, we would probably try to do more at once, less frequently, and therefore get less penetration and also less retention. There’s just a ton of advantages to it,” Conlon said. “People are very appreciative of the renewed investment in their development and therefore more open to different ways in which to get the development. I get comments from people all the time about how much they appreciate and enjoy the application of learning.
“When you put in place a robust kind of Webbased learning offering for your employees, nothing stands in your way from accessing it,” he added. “You truly have enabled your employees as completely as you ever will be able to for them to take full responsibility for the development.”
June Maul is CLO for Qwest Communications, overseeing ongoing development for its 56,000 employees through the Performance Solutions Council. Qwest has a comprehensive learning management system that cuts across all business units and a learning content management system used for authoring elearning and classroombased education.
“Both work very well,” Maul said. “Learning is about 60 percent delivered via technology, and 40 percent is straight classroom. We select the medium based on audience and the appropriate vehicle. The elearning and the use of the Internet has added a great deal of value to the business in improving the performance of the business.”
– The majority of Qwest’s product introduction to its sales force is delivered by elearning, allowing the company to reduce cycle time from about three months to, in some cases, less than a week.
– Qwest offers about 10 newhire curricula that support new sales and customer care consultants. Ranging between six and 16 weeks, the programs are about 80 percent Webbased and have increased sales performance by about 10 percent annually.
– Qwest also offers a new leadership curriculum to all its employees, educating them on leadership, business and technical skills.
– “When you invest the money up front in them, in return they become fully competent and fairly highperforming, and the performance increases every year in a very short period of time,” Maul said. “In the previous company I was with, we worked a long time to get people to accept elearning. Here, this is a company with employees that tend to access and use the Web for daytoday business. Within a month of when we first introduced these libraries, we have 1,500 employees access the elearning, and we didn’t do a major communication campaign because we wanted to make sure everything would work.”
Obviously, it worked.
“When you look at integrated training, and the range of training, that introduction of technology has allowed us to reduce unit costs by 40 percent,” Maul said. “The unit cost is not the big driver. It’s about all the value we bring to the business and all the value we bring to our employees. It’s not about saving travel and living dollars. This doesn’t even take into account those savings.”