For South Carolina Federal Credit Union, investing in employee development has not only helped the training department run more efficiently but has also proven to be award winning.
The North Charleston, S.C.-based credit union’s Employee Learning Center has received the American Society for Training & Development Excellence in Practice Citation in the learning technologies category.
The international citation recognized South Carolina Federal’s Life Simplified University for its mix of training plans and extensive online catalog. The online courses feature custom in-house e-learning courses created by the $1.2 billion credit union’s staffers.
“We were thrilled to death really, because of the magnitude of entrants and attendees at ASTD conferences, it’s actually more likely for someone from another country to be recognized than from the U.S., so it was quite an honor for us,” said Paige Westbury, vice president, human performance and development at SC Federal.
Accolades aside, Westbury and Young agreed that the true satisfaction has come from seeing how what began as an idea in 1994 has evolved into a state-of-the-art learning center that takes a comprehensive approach to learning, which employees value.
The university concept was part of the credit union’s initiative of creating a one-stop shop learning center.
Taking a three-pronged approach of identifying the needs of every position, the knowledge and skills required and developing functional learning plans accordingly, it initially began as electives with an emphasis on developing technical skills.
Over the years, with the purchase of a learning management system it expanded.
“We recognized that not everyone learns the same way. Some can’t stand sitting in a classroom or on a computer. Some loved books or audio since the only free time they have is in their car, so we wanted to create something that would help address all those needs and have multiple delivery channels,” said Westbury.
“We’re so proud that we came up with different training plans that meet the credit union’s needs as well as staff’s personal and professional development needs. We’re also pretty proud of our in house custom computer-based training courses, which offer a mix of learning tools and simulations,” she said.
As part of the computer-based delivery, e-learning specialists, who have all been cross-trained, can create certain annual courses such as contingency plan training. Each employee is provided a transcript from the credit union to keep track of their development.
“It’s nice because we can enter activities, pre-test along the way during the course and at the end the grade is issued immediately and automatically stored in each employee’s transcript,” said Westbury.
She said it’s been a boon for all, as everyone across the organization from back office and branch staffers to managers, can at anytime take required compliance classes, get a policy/procedure refresher or start professional development courses,
“It’s so efficient and saves time because it’s right there at their fingertips. Essentially it takes training out to employees,” said Young. “Employees that have been here for years have experienced significant growth, and they tell us how much better it is than when they had to come in all the time. They love having ownership of their learning."
To ensure everything from course topics to program delivery remains fresh, Young said the team constantly responds to employee feedback and breathes new life via upgrades, tweaks or retooling offerings accordingly.
Westbury added that the credit union also has several behavioral analysis tools to help employees and managers identify the learning or development gaps that may exist in their current position.
Many employees have taken advantage of the service as a way to help better prepare for the job or career they aspire to. It has also helped the credit union with succession planning efforts by identifying high potential employees.
“Training and development is an employee benefit,” said Westbury. “We look at our role as offering support that’s in line with the credit union’s strategic goals and being a servant to all departments across the organization. We’re here to support what employees need not just to do their job better but to help them develop and grow.”