WATERLOO, Ont. — Fidelity Investments Canada Ltd. has discovered the secret to getting new employees to utilize training opportunities — keep them interested.

Eric Landry, content manager for electronic services at Fidelity Investments,

said new employees are intrigued from Day 1 when they receive a gift-wrapped package along with their security badge. And though the contents merely consist of a file folder with learning aids and reference cards, employees have already started the first stage in the company’s employee training program, which allows new staff to train themselves using their computer.

“The (training) program is now about our investment in technology,” said Landry to about 150 people who attended the workshop as part of Symposium 2002, a conference on e-learning in the workplace this week.

Landry said though there were startup costs to the program, it has cut training expenses in half. Since 150 people were trained under the program last year, the company had an investment return time of about one year, he said.

The month-long program is comprised of three stages and gives employees the freedom to access only the information that is important to them. Landry said this type of training appeals to employees who are self-sufficient, prefer to learn at their own pace and enjoy working online.

“In our world at Fidelity everyone has a computer and we are very much a technology-savvy company,” he said, “so we tend to attract these kind of people.”

Training gets underway with a Flash presentation that begins immediately after employees log onto their computer. It contains information on desktop software, e-mail and how to get help.

The next stage requires staff to access an online program during their first week entitled the New Hire Connection, which takes them through information on various topics, including services around the office and the management system.

Finally, a one-hour standup presentation is held during the monthly corporate orientation to provide more detail on viruses, e-mail, Internet usage and security. It also allows room for questions and engages employees in an interactive game.

“There is still nothing that replaces the one-on-one,” said Landry. “I don’t think we will ever get rid of that because we always want to have a forum to talk to people.”

He said employee usage of the training program is tracked mostly through interviews, though the company does track the number of hits received by the New Hire Connection program.

Landry explained that the company ran into problems with its old format because it required employees to voluntarily attend a 45-minute session held each Monday, as well as a three-hour presentation each month.

This led to both attendance and financial difficulties because it not only required a weekly commitment from employees, but also instructors and management.

He added that the decreased time commitment with the new program produced most of the financial savings.

Improvements were also seen in the general use of the LAN and the ability of employees to properly back-up files.

Michael Dalmaridis, a learning and development consultant for ING Bank of Canada who attended the workshop, said what impressed him most about the program was how the company was able to use a variety of different approaches and still have them blend together into one package.

“It would also be beneficial to us because we are so spread out,” said Dalmaridis, “so it’s costly to bring employees to Toronto for training or have our people go to them.”

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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