eHR technophobics

first_imgeHR technophobicsOn 24 Jul 2001 in Personnel Today There is little doubt that e-learning is the way forward fororganisational development. But how can you convince staff of its benefits ifHR is harbouring technophobes?  NicPaton reportsDuring August, while the rest of us are turning our thoughts to holidays,Colin Robinson, training development manager at House of Fraser, and his teamwill be hard at work getting the department store chain’s new nationwidee-learning network up and running. House of Fraser has operated an internal intranet system for the past threeyears, but it is turning this into a full-blooded e-learning resource, offeringits 16,000 staff around the country access to a range of online learningmaterial. The first stage of this changeover came 18 months ago, when it launchedknowledge sharing over the intranet, giving staff advice on how to useelectrical goods for example. This could even be accessed at the tills to dealwith customer queries. It began piloting online learning of various Windows products and first-line management skills last year at its London head office and five othersites. Once established, the system will offer staff the chance to learn skillssuch as customer services, management and senior management, communication,assertiveness, better use of the telephone and finance for non-financepersonnel. Up to 10,000 people will be able to undertake modules in a year. House of Fraser is not the only business waking up to the advantages ofe-learning. A survey by employment law firm Clifford Chance suggests thee-learning market is expected to grow by 96 per cent over the next five years.And a US study by the Corporate University Exchange has estimated that whileonly 20 per cent of corporate learning took place electronically in 1999, thisfigure could double by 2003. Yet, according to Clive Shepherd, director of e-learning specialist FastrakConsulting, for many HR professionals, e-learning remains something of ananathema. “Quite a lot of HR people are opposed to the idea of e-learningbecause they feel it is too ‘techy’ and too impersonal, but other people withinthe organisation may have other views,” he says. So, argues Shepherd, who judged the e-learning category in last year’s PersonnelToday Awards, the first hurdle to be jumped in marketing an e-learning functionis for HR directors to get over their own technophobia. “HR people should enrol on a collaborative e-learning course – theywill find you can have lots of interaction between learners, and they will getto remove their own techno-fear,” he says. Once that is accomplished, it is wise to sit back and assess first offwhether e-learning is the best solution for your business. If so, make sure thelearning is something that needs to be done, such as health and safety orinduction training, not just something that is nice to do. “Make it compulsory. People are slow to change, they will use the oldmethods if they can. Link it to something that is important, such as promotion,money or their development plan,” Shepherd says. It is also important to allocate time for people to use the programmes, andnot to expect staff to do it all in their own time. Getting managers –particularly at senior level – to take part in courses can send a clear messageof the importance of the strategy. “Typically, people will not do itunless those above them are doing it too,” Shepherd explains. “Make sure it is not just a cost-cutting tool. It has got to be seen aspositive and it needs to be accessible to people.” The best courses are those that are accredited and offer employees atangible benefit or qualification, he adds. Logistics firm Astron, a finalist in last year’s awards, has put theselessons into practice. The company, which three years ago was a traditionalprinting and warehouse operation, has reshaped itself into an informationlogistics firm with the Internet as the focus for its business. Key to this transformation has been the company’s commitment to e-learning,with all employees being trained in e-business skills over the Internet andusing IT. According to group operations and HR director Kathy Woodward, drivinge-learning is, paradoxically, about playing down the “e” element.Selling the concept comes down to making it clear to people what e-learning canbring to their part of the business, rather than the fact they will be trainingonline. “We are trying to show that these are products which are actually abouthelping you and your relationship with the customer,” she explains. It is also vital to bring the IT department on board from a very earlystage. Astron recruited four skilled software engineers, aged 16 to 18, andrather than limiting them to one area, gave them free range across the company.”They are just kids who love the technology, but are humble enough toteach it throughout the organisation. I think the biggest mistake we make is toforget that there are people out there who can’t even switch on acomputer,” says Woodward. Issues of concern are aired during daily meetings at 8.30am, and thene-mailed around the company, meaning performance databases have been rapidlybuilt up. “We say everybody is a coach. Everybody has to acceptresponsibility for coaching. Part of our job role is to share out learning. We arepassionate about the 8.30 process,” she says. Progress can be measured by the fact Astron has grown in the past four yearsfrom a £13m turnover business to one turning over £100m, she adds. At its most basic, e-learning means the delivery of courses online. It canalso be used as a management information tool providing quick reference andonline job aids. But at its most sophisticated, as Astron has found, e-learningcan be used to help manage the growth of a business. At this level, argues Tim Drewitt, worldwide manager, professional learningservices at McGraw-Hill Lifelong Learning, managers and staff are expected toshare information and willingly part with knowledge and skills, a culturalshift that can be difficult to instill. Courses, whether off-the-shelf, bespoke or a combination of e-learning andtraditional methods, need to be aligned to the organisation’s competencies.”If it is related to the business goals, that will be a motivator initself and you will be able to get staff to accept it,” he explains. It is also vital to involve the end-user – in most cases the line manager –from day one. Presenting a package as a fait accompli and leaving the managerto bed it down is unlikely to gain HR many Brownie points. The company, which is known in the UK as Xebec McGraw-Hill, runs a series ofpractical workshops on the issue three times a year. Martine Garland, UKmanager of the company’s Professional Learning Services, who organises thecourses, argues HR should not be afraid to draft in outside expertise, such asfrom the marketing department, to get its message across. “If managers do not buy into e-learning, they will make life sodifficult that end-users will not be able to do it. You have to show them thate-learning is a corporate-wide, business-critical initiative, not some ‘wussy’HR thing,” Garland says. Teaching employees in a “real life” situation brings home thebenefits of learning online much more quickly, argues Richard Barkey, chiefexecutive at Imparta, a specialist in e-learning simulation and implementation.And when advertising agency and Imparta client J Walter Thompson put inplace its e-learning function, it made sure it had about 40 champions in itsoffices around the world to promote the switch, run workshops and help iron outdifficulties. A “chief learning officer” was also appointed to showthe importance the company attached to the process. “It was like apyramid. Each level spread the word out to the level below it,” Barkeysays. Most e-learning systems have performance appraisal software embedded in themto help measure user achievement. Appraisal can go from the most basic – usersticking sheets to say if a course is good or bad – through to showing whatimpact there has been over time on the profit and loss statement. Creating a bespoke measuring tool for managers may be a good idea, but anoff the shelf will do just as well. Regular checks that look for changes inperformance or behavioural skills can also monitor progress. The HR manager should not forget the effect e-learning will have on thecompany’s traditional training department, adds Fenella Galpin, consultant atE-Learning Solutions. Tutors and trainers can often feel threatened by thearrival of e-learning, so its consequences need to be thought through andaddressed. The other element to look for is what is known as the “killerapplication”, where e-learning shows immediate successes, she argues. Thismight be simply induction training or specific guidance that helps a salesmanclose a deal. But it is vital to remember the technology must remain secondaryto the main goal – the learning. “Lots of people get excited about the technology but they can end upignoring the learning,” Galpin says. “You only get one launch. If youlaunch it and something isn’t right or a button doesn’t work, that’s a realturn-off, so project management is crucial.” House of Fraser’s Robinson agrees. Any business wanting to make a go ofe-learning must first recognise it cannot completely supersede conventionalmethods. Its e-learning system is, for instance, supplemented by work booksthat staff can take home and study in their spare time. “E-learning does not replace workshop or face-to-face learning. But itcan deliver more training to people locally when they want it,” Robinsonsays. Ahead of its full launch at the end of August, House of Fraser has beenrunning “teasers” on its intranet and training sessions have beenorganised from board level downwards, with two-hour on-site sessions formanagers. Once it is up and running, monthly “health checks” will be carriedout looking at knowledge retention, how learning is being applied back and howit is helping the key business targets. There will be an employee responsesurvey and the progress of each department will be checked. Further down theline, House of Fraser will look to update and refresh its systems, he adds. Wider evidence of success will come over time – if staff turnover can bereduced and motivation improves. “E-learning will offer more training toour staff generally. It will improve management skills, as we have quite a bigpopulation of early middle managers. And it is more cost-effective as it istraining people in their location, not training people away from the floor somuch,” Robinson enthuses.Five dos and don’ts:Do1  Tailor the message to theindividual audience or organisation. Make sure learning is aligned to thecompany’s business problems, and that its goals are reflected in the trainingmessage2  Get backing at the highest levelpossible, create champions throughout the business3  Use it to solve real problems.Make people see how it can work for their department. Make it simple, withhyperlinks straight through to what they want4  Start small, with a pilot ortrial. Get it right and you can grow it, get it wrong and no-one will listen5  Reward success. Find some earlywins and publicise themDon’t 1  Forget to explain the basics. Manypeople, even today, don’t know how to turn on a computer, let alone learnthrough one – that may include the chief executive2  Assume you can buy an e-learningproduct off the shelf, plug it in and simply forget about it. Keep monitoringperformance and communicating its benefits to ensure there is not a peak ofusage at the start, which then tails off3  Try and do it alone. However goodyour boardroom backing, without the support of the IT department it will bemuch harder to make it happen, while the expertise of the marketing departmentmay help to bed it in4  Automatically assume e-learning isthe best solution simply because it is the latest buzzword. Take a long, hardlook before taking the plunge5  Believe e-learning willimmediately replace conventional face-to-face learning. Create a mix that isflexible, but robust enough to offer something for everybody. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Mid-States Corridor Project Tier 1 Environmental Study

first_img Mid-States Corridor Project Tier 1 Environmental Study August Public Meetings Scheduled  The Mid-States Corridor Project examines the concept of an improved highway connection in Southwest Indiana. The Mid-States Corridor is anticipated to begin at the William H. Natcher Bridge crossing of the Ohio River near Rockport, continue generally through the Huntingburg and Jasper area and extend north to connect to Interstate 69 (either directly or via SR 37).The Mid-States Corridor Regional Development Authority (RDA) and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) have started a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for major construction projects that will include federal funding.The Tier 1 EIS will include the following:Analysis and comparison of benefits, impacts and costs of a range of reasonable options to identify a preferred corridor for the proposed facilityAssessment of the social, economic and environmental impacts of each corridor, along with consideration of ways to avoid, minimize or mitigate impactsIdentification of the project’s purpose and need, and consideration of a variety of options to meet both, including improvements to and use of existing facilities and construction of new roadway facilitiesAnalysis of a no-build alternative to serve as a baseline for comparisonThe Tier 1 EIS is expected to take just over two years to complete with a Record of Decision (ROD) expected in summer 2021. The ROD is the Federal Highway Administration’s final approval of the preferred corridor.After a Tier 1 ROD, a more detailed Tier 2 environmental study will determine specific alignments and preferred alternatives within the selected Tier 1 corridor.Public Meetings ScheduledPublic involvement is a key part of the environmental study process. The first of several public meetings are planned for early August. The meetings will introduce members of the community to the Mid-States Corridor Project, explain the tiered study approach, describe the potential preliminary corridors and introduce ways for the public to stay informed and provide feedback.Meetings are planned for Washington, French Lick and Jasper at the following locations:Monday, Aug. 5: Washington High School               608 E. Walnut St., Washington, INAuditorium (Enter through Gate 4 off 7th St.)5:30pm to 7:00pm (local time)Tuesday Aug. 6: Springs Valley High School326 S. Larry Bird Blvd., French Lick, INCafeteria5:30pm to 7:00pm (local time)Thursday, Aug. 8: Jasper High School1600 St. Charles St., Jasper INCafeteria5:30pm to 7:00pm (local time)Each meeting feature an open house format. A short project presentation is planned for 6 p.m. each evening. Project team members will be at multiple stations to answer questions and comment cards will be available to offer public input. Additional public meetings will be held at project milestones.Find more information regarding the Mid-States Corridor project including how to sign up for e-newsletters, text alerts, social media updates and to learn about the project office location/hours of operation please visit Office Location  A Mid-States Corridor project office is located at Vincennes University Jasper Campus. The office is in the Administration Building and is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET, and by appointment. A project representative will be available during office hours to answer questions, and handouts and displays from the public meetings will be on site.Mid-State Corridor Project OfficeVincennes University Jasper CampusAdministration Building, Room 216850 College Ave.Jasper, IN 47546Members of the community can reach the project office by calling 812-482-3116. There are several ways to follow project progress, ask questions and offer feedback.Find project information online at up for project e-newsletters on the website.Receive project text alerts by texting “midstates” to 33222.Email questions and comments to [email protected] and updates are also provided on social media, Facebook (Mid-States Corridor) and Twitter (@MidStatesStudy).The Mid-States Corridor Project examines the concept of an improved highway connection in Southwest Indiana. The Mid-States Corridor Regional Development Authority and the Indiana Department of Transportation are conducting the required Tier 1 Environmental Study for the project to determine a preferred corridor. Find more information at your subscriptions, modify your password or email address, or stop subscriptions at any time on your Subscriber Preferences Page. You will need to use your email address to log in. If you have questions or problems with the subscription service, please visit  This service is provided to you at no charge by Indiana Department of Transportation. FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more