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Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Evolution of employee training – and meeting them where they are
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Employee using new Performance Support Tool

Use of technology allows employees to learn with tools they’re familiar with

The way we learn is changing.

Think back to the 90s. Computers and televisions were starting to become a staple in classrooms and fax machines were being replaced with email. Instead of simply reading from textbooks, we could learn playing a game on the computer or watching a movie.

Fast-forward to 2017, the landscape is even more different. With more boomers retiring and millennials – even Generation Z – joining the workforce, companies have had to shift their thinking on learning and training, especially utilities.

The shift didn’t happen overnight. Over the years, we have seen a growing number of generations working full time. From boomers to Generation Z, there is a large gap in age, which has created an even larger gap in the way we learn.

NiSource, an energy company based in Northwest Indiana, started noticing the change a few years ago and acted immediately to stay ahead. Modernized training was needed to not only keep up with technology, but to keep up with the preferred learning methods of those entering the workforce for the first time.

Speed is expected

These days, we expect speed. Google and smartphones have changed the way we consume media, get information and learn. So, when we have employees come into training, they expect information at their fingertips. That’s why we introduced the Performance Support Tool. This web-based tool can be used anytime and anywhere. If an employee needs to refer to our emergency manual, it’s there. If any employee needs to access training videos, it’s there. At the click of a button, they have immediate access to information they need to perform their job.

It’s part of a “Culture of Learning,” where employees engage in their development. We’ve all heard of continuous improvement, well NiSource is talking about continuous learning. By creating tools like Performance Support Tool, employees can habitually consult the application as part of their work process. Plus, Performance Support is an integral part to developing an agile, sustainable workforce.

The model isn’t new, but it’s changing the way utilities think about training. Many employees are out in the field without access to a computer, so supplying them with the tools they need, where they need them and being intrinsically safe, is a game changer. 

Making hiring easier

With an aging workforce, NiSource has started to focus on hiring young talent across its seven-state footprint. Technology has become engrained in everyday life millennials have come to expect sufficient technology in their jobs. While many may view this as feeling entitled, millennials simply need tools to do their jobs efficiently. Performance Support offers them a tool using devices they’re accustomed to using. And, it’s helping with training, but also making them feel safer on the job site.

The modernized training offered has helped position NiSource as a company that is innovative and meeting the needs of its employees. Unlike job-title based training, we’re engaging employees from their first day on the job through retirement. They are actively learning foundational skills that can be leveraged across job roles and state lines.  

The benefits of incorporating technology and tools into your operations are endless. But it starts with hiring the best. In an industry that is seeing more boomers retiring each year, offering tools to make their jobs easier is a win-win. 

NiSource
In Careers, Company

By Mark Chepke, Vice President, Training
 

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