Imagine this: You have a pile of work on your desk and as you get started, your Outlook calendar reminds you about a sexual harassment training in ten minutes. You groan to yourself, not looking forward to sitting in a conference room and seeing PowerPoint slide after PowerPoint slide. As you walk to the conference room, you run into a colleague who is taking the same training that day and commiserate on how boring this training is probably going to be. When you step into the conference room, however, you see something very different.
Computers are set up at every chair with a video ready to start on the computer. The HR manager greets you and asks you to take a seat. When the training starts, you are introduced (via video) on each of the computers to a series of sexual harassment example scenarios. The videos stop, and there is a recorded discussion about what the videos portrayed. Your colleagues in the Washington, DC, office are able to see the same training and, via video conferencing, are able to participate in the discussions. It is highly interactive and interesting. Once the training is finished, there are assignments to be completed via specific channels that have been set up for this training. You communicate about the material and complete the assignments in teams with members of your Washington, DC, office. If you want to review the material, you simply click on a review and the entire session or parts of the training can be reviewed. In fact, on your bus ride home from work, you access the channels on your iPhone, chatting with a colleague in your other office about the sexual harassment training assignment you have due next week. You receive an e-mail from your HR manager asking you to complete a training assessment located in a specific channel in the software, and you happily comply because you have an entirely new perspective on what training can be.
This is the training of today. No longer do people sit in hot, stuffy rooms to get training on boring content. Training has become highly interactive, technical, and interesting owing to the amount of multimedia we can use. Sun Microsystems, for example, has developed just the kind of software mentioned above, called Social Learning eXchange (SLX). This type of training allows people across the country to connect with each other, saving both money and time. In fact, Sun Microsystems received a Best Practices Award from Training Magazine for this innovative software in 2010. 1 The SLX software allows training to be delivered in an interactive manner in multiple locations. The implications of this type of software are numerous. For example, SLX is used at Sun Professional Services division by delivering instructional videos on tools and software, which employees can view at their own pace. 2 There is also a channel in the software that allows the vice president to communicate with employees on a regular basis to improve employee communications. In another example, this software can be used to quickly communicate product changes to the sales team, who then begin the process of positioning their products to consumers. Training videos, including breakout sessions, can save companies money by not requiring travel to a session. These can even be accessed using application technology on cell phones. Employees can obtain the training they need in the comfort of their own city, office, or home. Someone is sick the day the training is delivered? No problem; they can review the recorded training sessions.
An estimated $1,400 per employee is spent on training annually, with training costs consuming 2.72 percent of the total payroll budget 3 for the average company. With such a large amount of funds at stake, HR managers must develop the right training programs to meet the needs; otherwise, these funds are virtually wasted. This chapter is all about how to assess, develop, implement, and measure an effective training program.