How Training Has Changed During COVID-19

Hiring and training a new employee is like building the foundation for a house. If it’s done correctly, the house will proudly stand the test of time. If it’s done incorrectly, it won’t stand a chance and will cause nothing but headaches for the owner. If that seems like the stakes are high for making sure new hires are trained properly, that is because they are, and it is. Especially according to a trio of training experts who spoke on a panel during a webinar last week, which was sponsored by Peak Revenue Learning.

And much like a house that has been standing for decades, maintenance is occasionally needed, which is why ongoing training for collectors who have been on the job for months and years is just as important as the training they get when they are new on the job, the panel agreed.

The training process has changed significantly since the coronavirus pandemic sent most industry employees home to work, which means training or continuing education programs are now being conducted remotely, using tools like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams. While it may have changed the process, what is being taught is still largely the same.

“We’ve learned how to work Zoom pretty well, in order to make the training work, but we make it fun; we play games, we give them an extra breaks, because this is so different,” said Melissa Alston, a training manager with First Investors Financial Services. “It’s been different being at home and trying to connect with the trainees, virtually, but you just have to take that extra step and make the effort to do so.”

It is also important for agencies to keep in mind that individuals may want more than the job they have now. So while training to improve the skills they need for their current position is important, it is also important to offer employees training in other areas that may be further down the road, like leadership and management training.

“These type of programs, whether you call them a career path, future leaders, an ambassador program or university, it’s really going to help you look at what what talents you have in your organization across the entire organization and be able to move them into a good fit role that would keep them with your organization for the long term,” said Beth Conklin, an account executive with State Collection Service. “One of the most expensive things a company can do is turnover and rework. So by investing in these type of programs with your current employees, it’s just really going to help grow your organization and get that tenure there.”

While many agencies are large enough to support having an individual or team of individuals who focus on training programs for new hires and current employees, many agencies are not able to support those kinds of positions. In those circumstances, some of the best trainers can be colleagues and co-workers.

Mentorship programs “really gives us a good chance” to help that that person, said Cortney Fleming, the chief personnel officer at Wilber & Associates. “We may not go as far as teaching them pertaining to to KPIs, but we do really work with them. So they have an understanding of how to work and develop others in their area, because even though they may not have the title of supervisor or manager in their particular roles, they are being viewed as leaders.”

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