ATD Excellence in Practice Awards are presented to practices that have demonstrated clear and measurable results of achieving organizational goals, meet a demonstrated need, have appropriate design values, and are clearly aligned with other performance improvement initiatives. These practices have long-term, sustained results. Conduent Learning Systems and Ultimate Software, two of ATD’s Excellence in Practice Award winners for 2017, focused on how to use tech and other resources to expand their learning ecosystems. Let’s take a closer look.
Conduent Learning Services
Basking Ridge, New Jersey
Conduent still hadn’t separated from its parent company, Xerox, when it launched its corporate university in 2014. At the time, the only tools the university had at its disposal were traditional e-learning courses, an out-of-date learning management system (LMS), and a little-used collaboration tool for social learning.
But Conduent’s leaders envisioned something different. They wanted to create a comprehensive learning ecosystem, underpinned by state-of-the-art technology, that would enable employees to spend at least a few minutes every day building a habit of learning.
By late 2015, Conduent had developed enough infrastructure to accomplish that goal, creating several “environments” within its “learning ecosystem.” Gone was the old LMS, replaced with a learning ecosystem that consisted of three powerful environments: pathways (powered by Degreed) to build a habit of learning and social learning (powered by the Commons and Yammer), which enables people to collaborate and learn from one another on topics that are pathway driven.
Instructional designers prepared several pathways to administer through the ecosystem, which allowed learners to decide what learning experiences to consume for specific competencies.
However, few employees took advantage of these tools until Conduent announced its split from Xerox in early 2016.
The learning and development team used the split as an opportunity to engage employees. Understandably, some employees had concerns about the change, and the learning tools provided an excellent resource to help answer their questions. The team created several more pathways to prepare employees for changes brought on by the split. Next, they developed communities of learning within the Commons and Yammer to focus on change and other issues, and trained five cohorts of subject matter experts to manage these groups and engagements.
Due to these practices, usage of the new tools rose dramatically. In 2016 alone, the number of employees enrolled in pathways programs more than doubled, and more than 36 times the number of activities took place in the Commons than in 2015.
Skyrocketing growth in the company, specifically in its product development and information services (PDIS) group, led Ultimate Software to focus on developing a way to train its new developers, testers, and analyst hires to get them up to speed quickly.
The company wanted to develop a program that was “aligned with the culture of our development organization; online and individually focused; and quick to build, using SME (subject matter expert) knowledge as the primary content source.” The solution was to make training that was online and self-paced so that new hires could independently acquire the essential information they need. Another component was that of peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, using volunteers with expertise on a variety of topics.
Since the initiative began, more than 300 employees have gone through 121 learning paths, with a high satisfaction rate (4.51 for employee; 4.36 for manager). Time to basic productivity has gone down, knowledge transfer session attendance has tripled year over year, and leadership has thrown its full support behind quadrupling investment in exploratory online learning.
In addition to the PDIS team’s learning paths, employees who want to explore people leadership positions, or managers who want to promote further employee growth, have access to resources in the following areas: collaborating and influencing, creativity and innovation, customer focus, lead and develop, planning and process management, and strategic orientation.
Because of the success of bringing employees up to speed quickly, the company has decided to invest resources in an external online learning library. And the knowledge sharing process, in the form of lunch and learns, has proved to be popular.
Since the unveiling of the new learning model, engaged participation in the learning paths has risen, with graduates of the program seeking out and recommending additional learning materials for the path they undertook.