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Joel Brunson


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Posted: 6/25/2008 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

Note: This article originally appeared in the May 19, 2008 issue of Federal Times.

Gone are the days when employee training meant flying to the Atlanta office for the day and spending three hours in the board room. Today’s employees want interactive, on-demand training options, from the comfort of their desks — whether those desks are in the office or at home. Corporations are revamping training programs and focusing on the demands of younger employees. The question is, will the federal government follow suit?
In today’s federal environment, training often takes the form of traditional in-person classroom interactions — 89 percent of respondents in a recent survey conducted by Tandberg said their agencies use this format. However, to ensure active engagement from all individuals in the learning process, it is essential to implement additional training methods. New technology-enabled tools offer agencies opportunities to improve effectiveness and efficiencies of training, minimizing costs associated with bringing people to one classroom, while providing a variety of options to employees. Online and video-based distance learning provides viable alternatives to in-person training sessions. Further, video-based solutions consider the attitudes and aptitudes of the next generation of federal employees who grew up with the Internet, immediate access to information and visual interactive tools.
As baby boomers reach retirement age, the government must consider ways to retain tacit knowledge and bolster training options, ensuring that critical knowledge transfers effectively to the next generation of federal employees.
As many potential retirees spent the majority of their careers in government service, the value of their knowledge runs far deeper than simply understanding operating processes. They have seen both successful and failed initiatives, ingrained optimal operating efficiencies and learned from time-consuming processes. To transfer collected knowledge to new employees, most agencies provide new-hire training on processes, procedures and technology; however, many lack continuing education programs for employee development.
Post-hire training enables employees to stay abreast of market trends, new legislation and evolving requirements. Research conducted by WorldatWork, a not-for-profit professional association dedicated to knowledge leadership, identifies training and development opportunities as one of the most important predictors of retention.
The Chief Human Capital Officers Council in August 2006 formed a subcommittee on learning and development to help create a culture of continuous learning and employee development throughout the federal government. To enhance and improve organizational performance, the subcommittee examines, explores and proposes learning and development programs.
Video technology allows agencies to bring learning and development programs into focus, offering benefits not available through traditional mediums.
Generation Y values mobility, technological tools and work-life balance. Agencies looking to improve training programs and appeal to the younger generation should:
• Go beyond traditional in-person classroom training and provide a blended environment with a variety of different learning methods to keep employees engaged.
• Improve effectiveness and efficiencies of training while minimizing travel costs by implementing technology-enabled formats such as online and video-based distance learning.
• Consider the benefits of video-based solutions, which utilize a medium with which the next generation federal employee is accustomed.
While agencies face significant challenges in capturing the tacit knowledge held by departing and transitioning employees, they own the opportunity to adopt new tools that support the next generation. Leveraging infrastructure in place in nearly every agency, video-based knowledge management and educational programs provide agencies with a user-friendly, practical and cost-effective solution to enable knowledge retention and next-generation training.
Joel Brunson is the federal president of Tandberg, a provider of high-definition videoconferencing and mobile video products and services.
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