Until two years ago, most of the learning initiatives at ITC Infotech, a specialized global full-service technology solutions provider, were concentrated on classroom-based training programs in Bangalore. A key business challenge that the L&D department had to tackle was to deliver consistent learning programs for all the employees spread across 18 countries and 10 global development centers. The challenge in delivering consistent training was accentuated by the fact that a number of employees were also working on client engagements at a client’s location. This meant that atleast 30 percent of the company’s workforce missed out on the necessary training requirements. In order to tackle this challenge, we experimented with learning strategies while keeping in mind the necessary skills, the context of an inter-generational workforce and the various modes of learning available.
The focus with the e-learning modules was on building a habit of continuous learning. This meant building a discipline for months together.
There were three broad skill categories that employees needed to be trained on 1) Technology-related training 2) Soft skills including basics of communication, negotiation, awareness and 3) Project management – basic concepts combined with action learning projects.
Focus on multiple learning avenues
In order to ensure that the maximum number of employees were benefitting from learning interventions, we applied our knowledge of implementing various learning tools in the context of the organization. For example, when it came to technical courses, employees at the middle level in the organization, who were less technologically savvy, were introduced to a blended approach to learning with an emphasis on the social component through classroom sessions. On the other hand, campus hires who easily adapted to mobile and web-based learning technology related tools were introduced to e-learning courses after which technical experts would interact with the learners. Since project management is an area of demand in the IT sector in India, a hybrid model was created to ensure that there is an intensive concept exposure with case studies and mock tests.
The focus with the e-learning modules was on building a habit of continuous learning. This meant building a discipline for months together. For example, An employee could work through an hour’s worth of course work in a week for over two months. This approach also fits well with employees working on projects since devoting long periods of time could hamper project delivery. Overall, the digital learning modes at the end of two years of e-learning adoption contributed to 20% of the overall learning hours.
Drive adoption and awareness
With the launch of a variety of learning opportunities, the imperative for the L&D team was not to be only responsive to the requests that were coming from various business units but also to pro-actively identify skills sets across job profiles and map e-learning content prior to organizing classroom training.
Another key imperative for the L&D team was to take on a marketeer’s role with respect to learning. This meant running monthly campaigns on the intranet focused on what kinds of skill sets were needed, what gaps were being addressed as a result of the training and thinking through how to best address learning needs of the organization. Every time a campaign was launched, the team received at least 30-40 requests on a monthly basis.
Lastly, as learners were exposed to e-learning, L&D team had to alternate between being coaches, for people who struggled due to loss of classroom social environment or with project workloads, to being the drivers when people learning tapered off after completion of the first course or two.
Choice of a partner and impact
There are a number of factors that are important to remember when choosing a partner. In our learning journey, we asked questions including what kind of learning approaches are available? What is the variety of resources that a service provider brings to the table? How easy the platform to use? And how are we monitoring learning? A key factor that enabled us to choose our current service provider Skillsoft was the six-month discovery zone, during this time, we could discover the usage in greater depth, identify the early challenges and chart out a refined path towards adoption of eLearning.
Success measures at ITC Infotech have evolved over time and some of the key metrics include:
- Usage per capita: 15+ hours/year
- Repeat users of the course: 55% repeat users* (more than 1 course); 43% (did 5 or more courses)*
Added to the above metrics is the creation of an opportunity to be trained outside Bangalore. The value of digital learning interventions will only continue to increase due to the flexibility and opportunity that they provide to employees. While there is still value for classroom-based training, the future will see the emergence of new interfaces of learning.
*All percentages against total users