Keep Development Alive

Everybody is feeling it.  Over the past few months many of us have been affected by the dipping price of oil and the large impact it’s had on the economy. But it’s not all doom and gloom! For Long View’s Learning & Development team, the past few months have provided us with opportunities to really think about the way we’ve been developing employees, and reinvent ourselves and our offerings.  The result? More customized offerings at a lower cost.  Before I go into how we did it, I want to take a moment to touch on why we did it.

Long View encourages each employee to pursue 2 to 4 training events per year.  We do this because competence is one of our core pillars, and we know that training keeps people advanced and positioned as leaders in their area(s) of technology.  We also know that training is one of the things our employees value most.  Training is so important to Long View and our culture that our CEO, Gord Mawhinney, regularly challenges every employee to continue “sharpening their saw”.

Now onto the how. Here are some things we’ve done to keep our goal of 2 to 4 training events per person alive, while being mindful of the current economic climate:

  1. Shifted our focus to more internally designed and delivered courses vs. buying off the shelf or bringing in 3rd party training vendors. Our organization, like many, employs a vast number of subject matter experts, so we’ve worked with these experts to capture and share their knowledge across the organization.
  2. Outsourced the design or delivery of courses where the skills or capacity do not currently exist internally. This allowed us to continue developing and delivering new courses, at a smaller long term cost.
  3. Took part in the Canada Job Grant to get 2/3rd of training costs reimbursed for 3rd party courses and programs, including degrees and MBAs, thus reducing  our out of pocket expenses substantially.
  4. Postponed and/or eliminated “nice to have” training sessions and refocused resources on building bench strength through strategic training. Sounds like common sense, but over the years “nice to have” training creeps in, so the past few months has been a great time to evaluate current offerings and reset.
  5. Thought outside the classroom and offered training virtually. Training still occurs in real time, just over the web, thus eliminating travel, room rentals, catering costs, and broadens the participant pool.  These days there are great platforms that enable virtual participants to have the same interactive experience they would if in a classroom, such as Cisco WebEx Training Center or Adobe Connect.
  6. Replaced our lunch ‘n’ learns with webcasts/webinars. When looking to share information, a webinar can be just as effective as a number of face to face sessions. Again, eliminating costs and saving time, but still ensures your message reaches the target audience in a consistent manner.
  7. Promoted free training that our employees have access to. This can include corporate memberships,  something internally developed, or free training that’s available to the public (but may not be commonly known about) like Coursera or iTunesU or Microsoft Office tutorials, for example.

The economy will turn around and when it does, we’ll be ready for the flood of opportunities coming our way because our employees have continued to sharpen their saws.