Reinventing training with eLearning for geographically dispersed employees

How ELMO helped Instant Finance

Introduction

Instant Finance is a New Zealand-owned finance company that has provided personal finance to the public since 1971. The company employs over 160 staff and has a nationwide network of 26 branches, located from Kaikohe in the North to Dunedin in the South. Instant Finance also owns a car sales yard and storage warehouse, both located in Manukau, and coordinates operations from a head office in Greenlane.

Problems Experienced

" Due to the cost, outsourcing was not considered financially viable and thus training just happened piecemeal as a ‘reactive’ rather than ‘proactive’ resource, managing individuals rather than the team."
Maureen Parkinson - Human Resources Manager at Instant Finance

Prior to 2015, Instant Finance utilised an in-house trainer, a role that required a lot of travel to reach employees spread across New Zealand at over 20 branches. When that training resource moved to Australia, it fell upon branch managers to provide technical skills training. This resulted in disjointed and inconsistent learning experiences.

In addition, industry-specific training – including Anti-Money Laundering, Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), and Robbery Awareness – were conducted via PowerPoint presentations from managers or done with the assistance of Police for new employees as part of their induction program. These solutions were costly and did not enable any refresher training.

Role-specific training was also problematic as it was not possible to shut-down branches for a day at a time. For example, to run one customer service course, it required over three weeks of sessions in the Instant Finance head office, and travel to various regions to conduct after-hours sessions. Just as critically, health & safety training was handled in-branch but was non-specific and did not meet minimum regulatory requirements.

With outsourcing not possible due to budget constraints, and with limited HR resources, other professional development opportunities were handled in an ad-hoc manner or deemed too difficult to facilitate.

1 Lack of in-house training expertise, resulting in ad-hoc learner experiences
2 Costly travel required to conduct on-site training
3 Manual training processes using tools like PowerPoint
4 Budget constraints
5 Risk of non-compliance with health & safety and other regulatory training

Solution

A wide range of online training options were considered, with each solution offering different ways of delivering educational content and each requiring varying degrees of IT support – which Instant Finance did not have in-house. While some internal systems upgrades would be required before any solution was decided upon, a relatively easy implementation was also naturally desired.

In addition, Instant Finance sought a solution that was flexible enough to provide a library of content, while having the ability to create bespoke content. “When considering ELMO not only were there plenty of options to choose from, we discovered it was possible to both utilise the existing content, giving us a library at launch if we wanted it, and it was also possible to edit these and make them ‘ours’ as it were. Outside of that, we could always create our own content from scratch,” says Maureen Parkinson, Human Resources Manager, Instant Finance.

Also pushing ELMO’s Learning Management solution to the front of the pack was what effectively amounted to a “trial” of ELMO’s capabilities when the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ) ran a sexual harassment course via ELMO for its members. Parkinson explains: “The managers who we asked to undertake this were impressed by the content, ease of use and speed. When we presented the ELMO option to them, they were already aware of it and understood how it would work – so the decision to proceed was easy.”

The Result

" We can run reports and see the uptake of modules. We’ve found that staff are doing non-compulsory courses for some topics because they want to – it has nothing to do with their jobs."
Maureen Parkinson - Human Resources Manager at Instant Finance

Since implementation, the ELMO solution has produced a range of impressive results.

“What we’ve found is that staff just appear to love it,” Parkinson says. “Compulsory training has been made so much easier by utilising ELMO and having staff registered into it. It’s quick and easy to see who has undertaken training and who hasn’t and follow up happens at branch level.”

The level of content customisation has also impressed Parkinson. “We can use ELMO’s AML/CFT module as the ‘generic starter’ and we can also build that into our own ‘Instant Finance-specific’ training so staff get two hits at the topic, understanding the legislative requirements and how Instant Finance manages these,” she says.

One of the surprises for Instant Finance was when some managers initially “failed” the AML/CFT training, whereas their individual contributors did not. It was discovered that an existing in-house PowerPoint training module was out-of-date. This had not been picked up on until it was compared to the ELMO module, which is regularly updated in accordance with changing legislation. “What we then did is advise staff that nobody was to use our existing documentation, and everybody had to use the ELMO tool,” Parkinson says.

Training consistency has been another key benefit, especially for critical areas like health and safety. “All staff have the same content without any of the short-cuts that a branch might provide. Managers also have their own specific training, so they understand their responsibilities,” Parkinson explains.

Employees have also benefitted from the ability to learn anywhere at any time. “Staff are doing these courses on their tablets, smartphones, at home, on weekends as well as during the day at work,” Parkinson says. “We can run reports and see the uptake of modules. We’ve found that staff are doing non-compulsory courses for some topics because they want to – it has nothing to do with their jobs.”

1 More efficient eLearning for geographically dispersed employees
2 Increased learner engagement with customised course content and less reliance on manual content delivery via PowerPoint
3 Anywhere, any time learning due to mobile eLearning
4 Consistent training delivery across critical areas like health and safety
5 Up-to-date course content, in accordance with legislative changes
6 Improved tracking of completion rates for mandatory training, ensuring compliance with minimum industry standards