Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (BCBS-KC) serves more than 880,000 members in 32 counties in greater Kansas City, northwest Missouri and several counties in Kansas. The company uses a variety of learning delivery methods to provide its roughly 600 employees with the knowledge and skills required to support the organization’s operation, planning and management, as well as comply with federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations. But learning leaders credit e-learning as a primary driver to enable them to develop and promote talent from within.
BLUE U (Blue Leadership University of Excellence) officially rolled out in August of 2005 and offers BCBS-KC learners many different curriculum options based on core competencies and three skill levels: associate, bachelor and master.
“The associate skill levels are for nonmanagement associates,” said Yvonne Petite, former training and development specialist, BCBS-KC. “The bachelor’s level is for managers, and the master’s level is for our executive, senior team. With the associates, we have courses that help them to gain business knowledge of the organization and customer focus. We also do communication skills like giving and receiving constructive feedback, resolving conflict and things of that nature.
“We provide blended learning project management and interpersonal skills for our managers such as developing others and how to coach individuals,” Petite said. “We also have one called employee relations that our director conducts to show the managers how to handle disciplinary actions. At our master’s level for senior-level managers, we send them to an organization here called the Institute for Management Studies. They have people come in from top-level universities to provide different types of training for leaders within the Kansas City area. Some of the courses they teach are visionary and strategic thinking.”
E-learning offers the organization an efficient and cost-effective way to provide regulatory compliance training for all new and existing employees, as well as give employees a new way to develop their skills and create career advancement options.
“When internal positions become available, employees bid on the job, but they have to take a certain skill-level test. Most of those were Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Access, especially those who are going to go into actuary. We needed a way to efficiently and cost-effectively conduct some type of training that will provide them with the skill sets they needed to satisfy those requirements for new positions and career advancement,” Petite said. “We would send them out for the instructor-led training through various vendors, but it was extremely expensive because there were a lot of people who wanted to improve their skills, not just those who wanted to advance their careers for a particular job. So, we worked with some other departments and talked about an e-learning program.”
Now, employees can take advantage of BCBS-KC’s computer room to take e-learning courses whenever they have time. Petite said the company chose LearnKey as its main e-learning vendor for several reasons, including the interactive, user-friendly demos initially offered to illustrate learning solutions.
“They actually had a person on there talking to you,” Petite said. “This person was talking to me and showing me how to do certain techniques and how to create certain files. The (vendor products) we looked at previously, it was more or less you’re sitting there and following along without much interaction. This one was more engaging. That’s very important because it held my attention, and I think I learned more. LearnKey also has a lot of different labs where you can do certain things. Most of them have a pre- and post-test, and after people finish, they can print out their certificate and move on.”
BCBS-KC measures the success of its learning programs by evaluating the transfer of learning and by word of mouth, Petite said. Feedback she received from e-learning participants has been positive since implementation.
“A lot of the people who did the online training said that it really improved their skills, and a couple of them told me, ‘If I hadn’t been in there doing the e-learning, I probably wouldn’t have passed,’ or ‘That worked well for me.’ That’s how you get a lot of people to come down to the online training, word of mouth,” Petite said.
BCBS-KC’s e-learning program success is partly due to the support the company has received from its partnership with vendor LearnKey and partly due to the company’s endorsement of learning at all levels, Petite said.
“We promote from within a lot, and we find that people want to stay with the organization because it provides them with opportunities for advancement,” Petite said. “So, we provide training and develop our employees. We have a tuition reimbursement program, but I think mainly it’s the fact that we are a learning organization. We value training.”
– Kellye Whitney, email@example.com
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