Through virtual training, the Global Service Department of one
prominent workforce solutions company responds quickly to meet the
needs of the business and delivers measurable results to the bottom
Kelly Services was established in 1946 by William Russell Kelly,
founder of the temporary staffing industry. Since then, the company
has evolved from the widely recognized "Kelly Girl" brand to become
a global leader in workforce solutions.
Today, Kelly provides an array of solutions to clients, including
outsourcing, consulting, traditional staffing, HR management,
vendor management, and outplacement. It assigns professional and
technical employees in such areas as finance and accounting,
engineering, IT, law, science, and healthcare.
Kelly's business priorities have been to increase market share
outside the United States; to improve operational efficiency; and
to source, develop, engage, and lead top talent. As it emerges from
the recession, Kelly faces a new set of challenges - to create
innovative solutions and generate new business, and help its
clients do likewise.
Kelly's executive team is now looking to its learning department
for strategic solutions to the company's business needs, while also
keeping employees engaged and inspired. The Global Learning
Department is perfectly situated to be a full strategic partner in
those efforts. It resides within Kelly's Global Service Department,
not HR, where it directly supports the business through strong
relationships with product management and operations. Julie Curtin,
the Global Learning director, works closely with Senior Director
and Service Liaison Allison Kerska, who enjoys the proverbial "seat
at the executive table."
Kelly's top executives have demonstrated their commitment to
training on numerous occasions. During the initial economic
downturn in 2008, classroom training continued to be funded while
other departments were cut, because training was deemed critical to
the organization's overall success. When training budgets were cut,
they were done so in parity with other departments. In response,
the Global Learning Department helped meet the challenge by
converting almost all of its live classroom training into virtual
instructor-led (vILT) courses in 2009.
An instructional design team assisted by subject matter experts
repurposed the material to improve visual appeal and make it
interactive and engaging. Kelly now uses a blended learning model
to deliver training to Kelly employees worldwide. Virtual
classrooms are kept small enough to ensure learner interaction, and
different learning styles are considered in the development of
Also in 2009, Kelly leaders put their faith in Global Learning
again when it came time to address two troubling statistics -
lagging time-to-productivity among new hires and a turnover rate
that had reached an all-time high. Although Kelly already had a
robust training program for new hires, research and benchmarking
efforts indicated that a revamped onboarding solution was needed to
engage and connect new employees.
Global Learning created a new program to welcome and engage all new
Kelly employees, appropriately named "The Kelly Experience."
Content was developed for a pilot program that included various
delivery methods and paved the way for broader rollout. The program
demonstrates how a consistent and welcoming experience for new
employees, one that reaffirms their employment decision, results in
lower turnover and increased speed-to-productivity. A comparison of
turnover for those who participated in the program versus overall
turnover shows a 13 percent decrease related to program
participation. In addition, pilot results show that productivity
was 27 percent higher for those new employees who participated in
the program, compared to those who did not.
Another learning initiative launched in 2009 in response to
business needs was "Global Solutions Training" (GST). The program
sought to grow profitability by broadening the impact of learning
to a global audience of sales personnel. Curtin calls it a true
collaboration of learning resources to increase sales and business
mix in higher-margin specialty staffing worldwide. More than 60
senior leaders and top salespeople globally were engaged to develop
13 GST courses.
The courses were primarily aimed at coaxing salespeople "away from
the script" so they could ask pertinent questions about customer
needs and recognize cross-selling opportunities, according to
Curtin. It helped reduce silo thinking and dramatically increased
The results were impressive. Initial measurements showed that the
average sales of employees who completed at least one GST course
were 84 percent higher compared to those who did not participate in
the program. The GST initiative was expanded in 2010 with the
development of online training and additional course offerings.
A third learning initiative was launched in 2009 to train sales
personnel how to sell one of Kelly's most complex workforce
solutions. Timing was considered extremely important for this
effort as Kelly's top executives perceived a hotly competitive
market for this genre of outsourcing and consulting solutions.
The race was on to equip global sales representatives to sell the
solution aggressively and effectively. The resulting program
gathered more than 30 subject matter experts to develop vILT
courses and classroom instruction in 14 topic areas.
"We built close to 30 hours of intense training including case
studies, role-play exercises, and scenarios, and then created a
case study exam for them to complete in assigned teams," says
Kerska. Individuals were scored, assessed, and given a pass/fail
grade that would determine the scope of their sales
The highly visible performance assessments were a new approach at
Kelly, but the results speak for themselves, says Curtin. Metrics
show that after completing the program, participants increased
sales opportunities by 63 percent year over year and boosted the
win ratio from 22 percent to 26 percent.
"This program is a key example of how we listened to the
organization's needs and responded to them with something that has
yielded proven and measurable results," says Kerska.
In fact, it is these measurable results and the metrics behind
them, that are so indispensable in proving the Global Learning
organization's worth to the company, says Kerska. "You simply
cannot underestimate the value of business metrics. They are how we
have achieved high credibility and gained that seat at the
executive table. They proved to the operation that what we were
doing had bottom-line impact."
The global learning measurement strategy includes three approaches:
using anecdotal and numerical data to prove a causal relationship
between learning and outcomes; creating correlations between
learning and results; and tracking standard learning measurements
of completions, enrollment, compliance, cost-per-participant, and
Level 1 survey results. Standard methods of reporting include a
monthly dashboard of status updates on key initiatives that is
distributed throughout the organization.
Thirty days after every learning program launch, measures are
reviewed with the learning program executive sponsor. Trends in
data are identified and recommendations proposed. Such attention to
detail is why training will never be an afterthought at Kelly
Services. "Aligning with the needs of the business and showing the
impact on performance is what keeps us at the executive table,"
Paul Harris is a freelance writer and frequent
contributor to T+D;firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is excerpted from October 2010 issue of T+D.