Ever wondered what it takes to train the 12,000 or so employees of the City and County of Denver? Will Probeck and Glenn Feit work in the Training Department of the Office of Human Resources as the lead developers of training platforms for city employees and are largely responsible for figuring out how to coordinate it, track it and make sure it’s effective.
All employees in the City and County of Denver are required to take a series of classes during onboarding, such as ethics, in order to pass the standard six-month probation period. As of early 2016, thanks to Will and Chris who listened to feedback from trainees and put Peak tools to use, all of the required classes have been converted into an online training so employees can take the courses on demand. This innovation has allowed city employees to save approximately 60,600 hours of classroom/instructor led training time. The savings equates to about $1.9 million dollars in avoided soft cost—the amount of time in dollars that employees no longer have to spend in onboarding training.
To give some background about the process, let’s start with what an employee had to do before the era of online classes. During the first six months of employment with the City and County of Denver, a new employee was required to sign up for and attend an in-person classroom training at the Webb Building. The average employee would be in class for a total of about 12 hours, but if you were a manager or supervisor, you would be in class for about 32 hours. Because of the size of our city government and the amount of hiring that happens on average, it was difficult reserve a seat in the classes and typically caused people to rush to get them done. Sometimes the training team had to create new classes in order to keep up with the demand and allow employees the opportunity to pass their probation. In addition, each instructor had to manually track who was attending the training after each class which led to many hours’ worth of data entry, and in some cases it caused errors that resulted in employees to be misidentified as failing their probation. Additionally, instructors had to provide certificates of completion and transcripts which employees can now pull up on their own online.
The challenge of improving the situation was not easy, but Will and Glenn worked to formulate a plan to relieve some of the burden with onboarding training and meet the needs of their customers. As leads of Learning and Development, each of them have unique skill sets to contribute. Will has over 20 years of experience with design and creation of learning content, and he primarily oversees the narrative and creative work for the online classes. Glenn has been with the city since 2013 and his expertise falls in the audio and video components of the trainings, in which he has been an instructor for many years. They started by creating a checklist of what their customers wanted out of the trainings, created a process that had not previously been established. With their powers combined, they were able to successfully convert all of the required courses into an online format on CityU, which took them nearly two years to complete.
Now back to the savings. The time difference of the instructor led and online trainings is due to the streamlining of each course when they were converted. What once took an employee 12 hours and a manger/supervisor 32 hours is now reduced to four for average employees and seven for a manager/supervisor. This, along with the removal of instructor led trainings, is what led them to a nearly two million dollars’ worth of soft cost savings. On top of that, the online platform created a standard of training that greatly improved consistency and has ensured that each new employee receives the exact same style and format in a more concise and simplified way. They were also able to implement feedback more effectively by using an online survey that tracks their customers’ experience after each completion of the training modules. Previously, supervisors had to wait for an instructor to notify them of their employees’ progress with each training, but with the new format they can easily log in to CityU and see progress on-demand.
New employees, supervisors and managers throughout the great City and County of Denver have been able to reap the benefits of Will and Glenn’s efforts by taking advantage of the on-demand access to this facet of the onboarding process. By listening to their customers and innovating on what they could control, they were able to successfully implement a tremendous improvement to the onboarding experience for all of their stakeholders and save time and money along the way.