Get With The System

Features - Employee Training

Follow these five steps to implement a learning management system and level-up your training program.

© sergeyvasutin | AdobeStock
 

If you’re having trouble tracking down all your employees’ training files, feel like your employees have seven websites and 18 passwords to remember for training purposes and/or you’re seeing tremendous growth within your company and looking to bolster your learning and development department, it might be time to implement a learning management system (LMS).

A learning management system is software that will help your company track new employee training, facilitate ongoing or classroom-style training and host your important training documents. Adding an LMS to your company can help increase engagement in your employees’ learning and development pathways.

Companies of all shapes and sizes can work with an LMS provider to tailor a solution that meets your needs, and there’s precedent that they work. Finances Online stated that in 2021-22, 72 percent of companies that use an LMS felt they gained a competitive advantage, and 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies use an LMS extensively to remain competitive, according to Towards Maturity and eLearningIndustry.

You also can choose to customize your platform in a multitude of ways. Here are five important steps to adding an LMS to your company’s training regimen.

1. ONBOARDING TIMELINE. This timeline can help with goals and objectives involving key stakeholders within the company. It is always important to get the key stakeholders within your company on board with the thought of adding in an LMS to your training department. When they see the importance of the program to the growth of the company, it will help to get all managers and employees on board.

Also, set up a team that will work on this company objective. If you have course designers, technical managers and other trainers that will be a part of the development, bring them in early. Have no fear though, this also can be done solely by you, it will just take more time.

Set up a few important goals that you want the LMS to be able to do. For McCall Service, we wanted the ability to track classroom training, set up onboarding checklists for new hires and not only add courses from other vendors, but be able to add our own content and courses to the system as well. By setting up these goals, you will be able to compare all of the various LMS platforms that you’re receiving quotes from.

You should also set up a realistic timeline for implementation. Choosing the specific LMS company to rolling it out can take three to 12 months, depending on the size of your user base and content. If you plan on uploading your own content, outline a goal for creation of the content. You don’t want to add an LMS and start paying the dues and fees while you are in a yearlong process of creating all of the courses. This is very important to keep in mind.

The last key objective to keep in mind when selecting your LMS is the user experience. At the end of the day, the administrator abilities are very important, but how your user goes through the content and gains an understanding of the system is critical. “Utilizing an LMS, we are able to customize and assign learning based on our team members’ needs and knowledge gaps,” said Adam Vannest, vice president of training and technical services for Northwest Exterminating.

Never lose that focus.

2. DETERMINE CONTENT & BUDGET. An LMS can really do a lot. “It is a management system,” said Jay Everitt, technical director at Rottler Pest Solutions. “It manages and verifies all the training that is completed — from entomology and treatment methods to labels and safety. It helps to organize everything in one spot.”

Something like that is worth a lot. But once you start weeding through your choices, you will have to keep a budget in mind for the system. Most LMS platforms have setup fees, as well as a per-user, monthly or annual subscription. Try and choose a platform that charges you for a user seat and not specific names. That means if you lose that employee and hire a new one, it is a net wash.

If you are a smaller company and don’t have access to internal course content, you will need to budget for these items. You are probably already paying for your employees to take courses on various other websites; these will just need to be added into the LMS. Many LMS providers also offer course bundles you can purchase in learning topics such as customer service or safety.

When you are looking at possible content for your LMS, keep the following topics in mind for courses: safety, driver’s training, insects and your standard operating procedures. If you are currently using a third-party website for courses, reach out to them and see if their content is compatible with an LMS. This will ensure that all training sites can be condensed down to one.

This was a key objective as well for McCall. I wanted to ensure that our users could access all their content using only one username and password and had only one site to go to.

3. CUSTOMIZE YOUR LMS. Out of the entire LMS process, customizing your selection to your brand is the most fun. This is also what makes the user experience so great. I would encourage your team to create a name and logo for this new LMS to make it truly yours. We selected McCall Academy and created a logo to show this off with our McCall green color.

With that, you will need all of the Pantone colors for your brand and other various approved logos. For our LMS, when a user logs in, they are assigned to their branch-specific welcome page. The background image for each branch is a picture of their city as well as an introductory video from me welcoming them to our team.

Our firm also created an organizational structure within the system so branch management could see and manage all of their employees. We created internal LMS links to our Labels and SDS website as well as a document for important company contacts.

We also ensured that we pushed the website down to all of our company phones and titled it as McCall Academy. This ensured everyone could easily find and navigate through their training. As I stated before, ensure everything that you create and/or customize enhances the user experience.

4. ADD CONTENT. The LMS is your blank canvas. This system will house just about any type of training, from videos, PowerPoints, worksheets and handouts, to quizzes and surveys. All employees at your company are going through a journey within the industry. Where they join your company on that journey can vary.

You want to ensure that your set up of the system aligns to their needs. “The LMS helps us engage and chronologically align a team member’s learning to where they are on their development journey,” said Vannest.

Make a list of the overall topics or learning objectives you want to create. This will be your course curriculum. Does that include label training, safety courses, learning about your SOPs and service lines, etc.?

Then, under each of those major objectives, start to list out the class or course titles you will be creating. Determine if those courses will be developed in-house or brought in through another license that you budgeted for. After you have your learning objectives and courses laid out, start to imagine the appropriate way an employee should go through the courses. Do they need to see a label before the service? Or maybe they need to review safety guidelines for ladders before discussing roof exclusion practices (as an example).

You should create these course bundles for each division within your company. That way, when you are onboarding new employees, you can assign them task- related courses. At McCall, we have ours set up as Pest Control Service Professionals, Lawn Care Service Professionals, Administrative Professionals, Management, etc.

Each of these bundles are tailored to those positions. While some classes will overlap, especially safety, it gives you the opportunity to be very position- specific. This aligns the course content to the job tasks.

5. ROLL OUT YOUR NEW LMS. Congratulations, you did it! You have taken many months to vet and agree to the appropriate LMS, gotten everyone on board, created course content and branded everything to your liking.

The most important aspect of this initiative is employee engagement and their user experience. Select several employees to go through the program and take a few courses. This will help ensure that all of the bugs are fixed before rolling it out company wide.

Pick a few employees who you know will give their honest and open feedback. The worst feedback you can get is, “Looks good!” While that might be true, that doesn’t help us get better.

Once the platform is ready for launch, send it out company wide and celebrate it. Be sure to show employees the value this brings to their individual learning and development. Within the LMS, add a welcome video or note to engage the new user into the system.

“Having McCall Academy as our hub for training and employee development ensures that all of our branches have access to a comprehensive and current training program that we can trust,” said Roger Collins, regional manager for McCall Service.

The author is the president of the Urban Pest Management Technical Committee and serves as the director of technical services and operations support for McCall Service, Jacksonville, Fla.