Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Susan Smith Nash (aka. the E-Learning Queen) is offering a free pdf download of her E-Learner Survival Guide, “everything you need to know to succeed in the wild and wooly world of mobile learning, elearning, and hybrid college, K-12, and career courses.” (Thanks to those at Workplace Learning Today for sharing the good news.)
The book contains hundreds of essays on a broad list of topics from student engagement and institutional leadership, to mobile learning and corporate training.
Nash writes that the book is especially focused on creating successful outcomes for students and educational programs. Her essays also explain how to handle “often-overlooked” niches of learners, including generational differences and training.
Take a quick trip over to the E-Learning Queen to download your free copy of the E-Learner Survival Guide.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I found this new training trend via Kari Quaas at the Seasonal Human Resource Blog who thinks there’s at least one educator out there “doing it right.” Teaching, that is.
Jose A. Bowen, a dean at Southern Methodist University, is teaching naked – without computers, without PowerPoint – and has challenged his colleagues to do the same. He thinks that by stripping the classroom of computers, he has a better chance of keeping his students engaged.
Instead of presenting during class, Bowen instructs students to watch a presentation beforehand. This way, students enter the classroom ready for discussion, rather than having to sit through a boring slideshow. Watch the video below to hear Bowen describe it in his own words.
Yes, the video is about lecturing in a higher-education setting, but the points Bowen makes on how a technology-less classroom can improve engagement resonate across all types of learning, even employee training.
Take a look:
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The American Customer Satisfaction Index and other major surveys are hitting record high numbers. Experts say employee training and improved technology are two major factors contributing to those impressive levels, according to a Wall Street Journal article published online today.
Such high customer satisfaction numbers are abnormal during an economic downturn, when business’ cost-cutting strategies tend to cause them to plummet. But today, many businesses are using improved service to find cost-savings.
Executives at Sprint began a service improvement plan at the end of 2007 to turn around the company’s repeated poor customer satisfaction marks. Along with other improvements, call-center operators are rewarded for solving a customers’ problem during the first call. Before the new plan, operators were once commended for keeping calls short.
Other companies, like the Cheesecake Factory, are using customer satisfaction surveys to improve service. Customers’ online survey results have been used to better estimate waiting times for tables, improve food quality and are now used as a factor in determining employee rewards.
"If they don't like you, it's that much easier" for customers to switch to a rival, says Rick Germano, Comcast's senior vice president of customer care. (WSJ.com)Last year, Comcast installed software that helped identify network problems before they affect service and alert call-center operators of customer problems before the calls come in. They’ve cut repeat service calls by 30%.
Has the recession impacted your company’s customer satisfaction ratings? How big of a role does employee training play in improving customer satisfaction?
Monday, July 27, 2009
The Impact of the Recession on Employers (.pdf) by the Families and Work Institute measured a variety of trends including how employers are reducing labor and operational costs, and how employers are helping workers deal with the recession.
"It is hardly surprising that our survey finds that 77% of employers are cutting and controlling labor and operational costs during the recession," said Ellen Galinsky, co-founder and president of FWI.
"What is surprising is that that between 34% to 43% of employers are actively helping employees weather the recession, that employers are largely retaining or increasing workplace flexibility as way to manage through a difficult economic environment, and that 57% of employers are giving employees some or a lot of input about the flexibility they use."
Other notable survey findings include:
- Two-thirds of employers (66%) report a decline in revenues in the past 12 months. More than a quarter (28%) said revenues held steady and 6% saw increases in revenue.
- Employers’ two most common cost-cutting strategies were decreasing/eliminating bonuses or salary increases (69%) and lay-offs (64%).
- Most employers have maintained existing workplace flexibility options (81%) or increased them (13%). Another 6% had to reduce flexibility options.
The report also revealed how some employers have turned to their employees for ways to improve the business and cut costs. The most popular methods included a cost-savings program where employees submit cost-savings ideas and organizing active cost committees to make recommendations.
“Employers are increasingly recognizing the value of work-life balance policies to their bottom lines - now we see it's true in good times and in tough times," said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, Chair of the Joint Economic Committee.
"Offering flexibility to workers is a low-cost way to boost morale, loyalty, and productivity. This new report by the Families and Work Institute, confirms that smart employers are working with their employees to avoid layoffs. More employers should see these policies as an essential element of the 21st century workplace.”
How has your company helped employees get through the recession? Did they use workplace flexibility programs and/or other employee benefit programs?
Please leave a comment and let us know.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The research, out of the University of Iowa, suggests that predicting employees’ reactions to a training setting may be trickier than once thought. Kenneth Brown, a professor of management and organizations at the University of Iowa, was surprised by his recent discovery.
"A number of people, particularly in the profession of training and organizational development, argue that if you are going to bring people into a room or you're going to work with group of employees on a change effort that you should really try to create a positive environment, you should try to create positive mood," he says.
As part of his research, Brown and an assistant gave a group of students small gifts when they came to a training session and played music during breaks. They found about a third reacted positively. Another third reacted negatively and the other third basically had no reaction to the gifts and attempt to lighten the mood with music.
"We had some people who, you know, just thought this was kind of neat," Brown says, "...and other people who actually ended up disliking the environment more." In the minds of that group of people, the gifts and the music meant trainers were "trying too hard."
Brown doesn't classify his research as "groundbreaking," but he suggests it may be a "wake-up call" to those who conduct employee training for a living and assume plying participants with goodies will make the training go more smoothly. (Radio Iowa)
So, what does work? Humor, according to Brown. Managers who are open to humor and find humor in tough work situations helps connect people in group settings on a more personal level. The ability to laugh is clearly connected to positive mood and relationship building.
Do you offer trainees any type of goodies during the course? Any candy, small gifts, music, etc.? Do you think it helps/hurts the mood in the room?
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The new audit initiative illustrates the agency’s stepped-up focus on holding employers directly accountable for their hiring practices and their duty to ensure a legal and documented workforce.
The NOIs serve as an alert to businesses that ICE will conduct investigations to determine whether their hiring records, including employment eligibility forms (Form I-9), are in compliance with federal law.
For the countless number of businesses who weren’t served with NOIs, the announcement from ICE may be a jarring wake-up call to ensure that they’re in full compliance with the employment eligibility verification process.
Businesses should make certain that all employees involved in the hiring process are fully trained on the work eligibility process and Form I-9 best practices.
Employers are legally required to fill out a Form I-9 to verify the work eligibility of new employees and re-verify the eligibility of existing employees. Employers who fail to fill out I-9 forms for every employee may be subject to violation fines.
Learn more about Form I-9 documentation and recordkeeping compliance:
ICE announces audits, review Form I-9 best practices
Form I-9 expiration date extended past 6/30/09
Are your employees trained on the new Form I-9?
Illegal immigration enforcement shifts toward employers
Friday, July 10, 2009
Shut Up and Get Back to Work is simple. When Frank the Foreman shouts a command, you do what he says within the given amount of time. He’ll tell you to pinch, slide, press or swipe the controls in the order Frank tells you. As you play, the game will speed up and Frank will mix up his commands.
No iPhone? You can still have fun on the SUAGBTW website. Go ahead, press a button and see how much Frank appreciates it.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
The friendly folks at Effortless HR put together a wide variety of topics to browse through this time around, but keep a look out for these stand-out training-related entries:
Erik Samdahl of i4cp would like us to think about How High-Performers Support Employee Engagement
Drew Tarvin shows us how to Team-Build Through 3 Pictures
Chris Young posts a Book Review on Three Laws of Performance
Dan McCarthy wants us to Beware of Cult-like Leadership Development Programs
From the G.Neil HR Forum, some insight on Employees putting your data security at risk
And don’t forget to take a look at our very own posts on whether “lunch and learns” are bad for business and when cookie-cutter sexual harassment training just won’t cut it.
Just remember the number one rule of carnivals: Eat your funnel cake after you ride the Gravitron. Please.
In this issue you’ll find out how to diversify your diversity training, how to engage employees in sexual harassment training, and find the right software training to nurture your inner-geek.
Here’s a quick look at the July issue of Training Trends:
Diversify Your Diversity Training
Improving productivity through sensitivity and understanding
In a world of 6.7 billion differences and counting, it’s often times difficult to understand and conceive why people are the way they are. From a philosophical standpoint, problems, arguments and even wars can occur from simply misunderstanding one another. What’s the obvious answer? Love and peace… and diversity training.
Like the term “harassment,” it’s important to know exactly what diversity is as well. (more)
Software Training for Your Inner-Geek
The importance of software training in the workplace
Let’s face it; we’ve been overtaken by computers… and it’s never been so cool to be a geek. Immerse yourself in the nerdifying glory that is software training. Dig out your favorite Star Trek episode, duct tape those horn-rimmed glasses and grab a pen out of your pocket protector. Let’s take some notes on why now is the time to be well-trained in the use of computer software… Engage!
It’s never been a better time for businesses, big and small, to train employees with the proper skills in tackling software-loaded devices. New programs and computer systems are meant to make your workload easier, allowing you to accomplish more in one sitting. Not only will training improve efficiency throughout your business, it will give it the potential to grow and compete. (more)
Side-Stepping Sexual Harassment Risks
Find ways to engage your employees in sexual harassment training
Sexual harassment. Employers cringe at the mention of these very words. Upset employees, court battles, and heavy fines are just a few of the nightmares that can stem from an inappropriate interaction at the office. One offensive comment or gesture can bring a world of legal and financial trouble from the EEOC or an aggressive plaintiff’s lawyer…
OK, enough pondering the horrors of harassment. What’s the best way to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace? With the proper training, of course!
First of all, it’s important to know exactly what sexual harassment is. And the reality is, it can be many things, (more)
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Even in the face of salary and 401(k) cuts and freezes, many companies are still investing in employee wellness as a part of their workplace “deal” with employees, said the close to 500 HR and benefits executives surveyed.
"Employers recognize that we can't keep doing the same things and expect different results," said Dave Guilmette, Managing Director of the Towers Perrin Health and Welfare practice.
"So we're beginning to see leading companies taking steps to change the system from the inside out, focusing on new benefit designs, incentives for employees and providers, new technologies and new ways to measure and deliver the value of workforce health."
The survey suggests that employers and employees are now looking at health care as more of a shared responsibility between the two.
According to the survey:
- 53% of respondents are trying or considering new benefit strategies they would not have considered before the economic crisis hit.
- 70% of employers are increasing communication to address employee concerns
- 57% of employers are not cutting back on investments in benefit communication and education
- 50% of companies have or will introduce or increase investments in wellness and health promotion in 2009 and 2010
Employers are changing their ways regarding participation incentives and penalties for nonparticipation. Almost one-third (32%) of companies in the survey have or will introduce or increase financial incentives for wellness or health promotion activities within the next two years. Nearly half (45%) are considering introducing or increasing penalties for nonparticipation in wellness or health promotion activities.
"In previous economic downturns, investments in benefit communication and employee wellness were among the first to get cut from a benefit program," said Guilmette.
"The firm commitment to and increasing investment in employee wellness we’re seeing today shows that more employers are beginning to recognize the long-term financial benefit and business advantage they can achieve by improving the health of their employees."
Has your company been able to avoid cutting back on wellness programs, despite the recession? Does your company punish employees who choose not to participate?
Monday, July 6, 2009
In an interview with Forbes, Douglas Conant, CEO of Campbell Soup, shared how he took a “bad” company to a high-performing “extraordinary” company. We’ve put together some of the highlights in this post, you can read the full article here.
How did he do it? With a mix of “cost-cutting, smart innovations, increased marketing and, especially, a concerted effort to reinvigorate the workforce.”
"To win in the marketplace," he has said, "we believe you must first win in the workplace. I'm obsessed with keeping employee engagement front and center and keeping up energy around it." (Forbes)
The year after Conant became a part of Campbell’s he hired the help of Gallup, polling and research firm, to better understand his company’s engagement levels. Gallup found that 62% of Campbell’s managers were not actively engaged in their jobs and 12% were actively disengaged.
Today the engagement numbers look much different. According to the most recent poll, 68% of all Campbell employees say they are actively engaged, and only 3% say they are actively disengaged. The company’s engagement levels are “world-class” in Gallup’s eyes.
After Conant realized how it tied directly into shareholder returns, he used employee engagement as a tool to measure progress, build a high-performance company culture, and set high standards for Campbell’s leaders.
The company now surveys all 580 work groups at the same time once a year. Managers review the results with their direct reports and everyone is updated on their progress related to specific goals. The top quality leaders are measured on is their ability to inspire trust in those around them.
“The other thing we do is celebrate at a high level when people do things well. Learning to celebrate success is a key component of learning how to win in the market. On a personal level, I send out about 20 thank-you notes a day to staffers, on all levels. And every six weeks I have lunch with a group of a dozen or so employees, to get their perspective on the business, to address problems and to get feedback.”
How do you inspire trust in your teams? What is the most important factor any company can focus on to turn employee engagement around?
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Sounds simple enough, right?
In most businesses across the country, numbers are down and stress levels are skyrocketing. It’s an unfortunate combination that doesn’t do much for employee morale.
Right now, you may not have the money to take your team out for lunch or the company can’t contribute to a recognition program. It’s times like these when you’ll find that sometimes it’s the simplest signs of appreciation that can do an even better job than the fancy stuff.
Showing honest appreciation for the people on your team can do wonders for morale. Whether you stop by their desk to say thanks for their help on that last project or leave a funny greeting card on their desk expressing how much you appreciate all the hard work they put in, simple recognition can go a long way.
I recently came across a great post at Pamela Slim’s Escape From Cubicle Nation where Slim shared a personal story about a day that began with a not-so-pleasant experience at the airport.
She was dropped off almost two hours before her 6:30 a.m. flight, well before Starbucks opened their doors, and had to navigate through a blockade of airport construction. The caffeine-less Slim decided to sit down and write a blog post, but the only topics that came to mind included why mean people suck and sleep deprivation.
Then, almost magically, she received a tweet from a fan of her book: “@pamslim Pam, your book really is an achievement. It’s the best book I have read on the topic and the one I will be recommending widely.”
The message changed her mood right there on the spot. So much of a change that she started thinking of ways to show the same kindness as her tweeting fan.
Now I will look for opportunities throughout my trip to show the same kindness as Daniel, by doing things like:
Kindness is not a little thing. It is not fluffy, unicorn and rainbow coachy stuff.
- Saying thank you often and sincerely
- Complimenting someone on a job well done
- Encouraging to my clients and students
I highly recommend it.
The next time someone on your team looks like they’re having a difficult day, use it as an opportunity to share some words of encouragement and appreciation. In the same way it turned Slim’s day around, your words have the power to change their day for the better.