Case Study 8. New-Hire Training

You are the HR manager of We-Do-Lots-of-Important-Stuff, Inc., and your company hires about 700 new employees each year— about half directly from college and about half as professional hires with related job experience. Most of these employees will be mobile workers, and you will seldom see them in a company office. Each employee needs to learn the basics of working in your company. They need to know about policies, procedures, sources of information, etc. For example, each new employee needs to

Skills" are different from "knowledge." It's one thing to know all about the physics of swinging a baseball bat, but it's another thing altogether to hit home runs off major league pitching.

learn how to fill out an expense account and select benefits options.

What's at Stake?

The stakes are the morale of the new hires. They can limp along without any training, but you need to have them feel comfortable in their new company. Employee morale is directly related to employee productivity and turnover.

Student Motivation

The new hires will initially be very interested in this training, but as their job pressures increase, they will be inclined to take only that training that's immediately applicable to their day-to-day responsibilities.

Note: Stop a moment and think of your own e-learning solution before reading on.

Solution Factors

The solution approach here could center on having the new hire take a lot of self-directed training, which could be tracked to ensure completion, and then putting the new hire in touch with a mentor.

You can use self-directed, on-demand e-learning that the new hire can take online through a Web browser. The student can learn company history, company policies, and also things like sexual harassment and health and safety issues. Part of this solution is also a virtual library of key policy and procedure documents, so the new hire can go back to a Web page and get reference documents at a later time.

You might want to include "self-check quizzes" so the new hires can tell what they've learned. You want to avoid too much emphasis on tracking and quizzing of the new hires. You don't want to turn off your employees by making them take quizzes that they can't always pass. Remember that the real goal is to get each new hire to feel comfortable so they can be more productive sooner.

You also want to avoid the complete lack of a human touch. You can build in the human feeling with mentors, occasional face-to-face sessions, collaborative online sessions with new hires, or other personalized communications with the employee.

Furthermore, you probably want a tracking system that shows whether the new hires actually completed the training, and you might want some short quizzes to determine whether they are actually learning or just turning the Web pages.

Another important part to new hire training is to assign a mentor to each new hire. This mentor should be an experienced employee who communicates with the new hire by e-mail or by phone—the mentor and the new hire do not need to be at the same physical location.

You also might want to consider the following:

- You can get courses on standard business issues (like sexual harassment, health and safety, etc.) from industry vendors. You do not need to create your own.

- A Web page with frequently asked questions (FAQs) for new hires is a nice touch, as is a help line that's answered by a knowledgeable human being. Sometimes a new hire will need to talk to someone in person.

Case Study 9. New HR Benefits Training

You are the HR manager for CrescendoForte, Inc., a management consulting firm with 4,000 consultants working at consulting engagements with clients at geographic locations all around the world.

You have been negotiating with several healthcare providers over the past six months to improve the healthcare benefits for CrescendoForte's employees. Negotiations have been successful, and the new healthcare plan is going to take effect in three months.

E-learning doesn't have to be a course taken during a specific period of time. It can be a Web site that gives the right information and answers all the right questions.

During that three-month time period, employees need to choose from a menu of healthcare options that will determine their level of coverage in all manner of healthcare problems. You have had the same healthcare plan for the past ten years, and the new one, while less costly to the company overall, requires that each employee make a number of choices that are significantly different from the old healthcare plan.

Employees will need training in the specific details of the new healthcare plan so that each person can make a good choice.

What's at Stake?

The stakes are employee morale for your entire employee population. Rolling out a new HR benefits package can damage employee morale if the employees feel they didn't get a fair chance at making the benefits choices that would be most advantageous to each of them.

Student Motivation

The employees will be very interested in learning about the new benefits package since it is of immediate personal interest to each employee. They will not, however, be willing to take lengthy training modules.

Note: Stop a moment and think of your own e-learning solution before reading on.

Solution Factors

One good e-learning solution for this case study would be to create a Web site about the new healthcare benefits plan; part of that Web site would be short training modules that an employee can select on demand. Any e-learning training module in this environment should be very short. A lengthy course that lasts more than ten or fifteen minutes will cause people to start drifting away. Aim for short training modules of ten minutes or less.

The actual training solution is only a small part of communicating the new benefits plan to your employees. In addition to the short, ten-minute training modules, the Web site can have a wealth of reference information:

- Handy facts about the new plan

- Differences from the old plan

- Case studies showing how different people might take advantage of the plan

- Frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers

You can think of the information at this Web site as the virtual equivalent of the hardcopy booklet that you would have sent each employee in the past, with the added benefit of e-learning training modules. From the Web site the employees always have access to the information, the information can always be up-to-date with the last-minute changes, and it doesn't get lost like so many of the hardcopy booklets used to.

The key point for the learning case study is that you're not starting at ground zero with most employees when talking about healthcare plans. They already know a lot—what they don't know is what's different and how it might affect each of them. Your short training modules might focus on "what's different."

Another important part of the training solution would be a help desk that can answer questions by phone or e-mail. For something like healthcare benefits, employees often want to talk to a human being.

Some other things to include in this solution are that:

- You need to be sure that the employee can print out all the important information. Some people just work better with information on paper, and some might need to take the information away from the computer. Most browsers let you print tolerably well, but there are ways of constructing Web pages so they don't print well at all. Be careful.

- You might want a calculator tool on the Web site that lets the employee try different "what if" case studies for different benefits options.

Finally, there's no need to test the employees on their knowledge and certainly no need to report on how well they've learned the information.

 
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