Community Bancorp

New York Community Bancorp, Inc., Invests In Future-Focused Training

New York Community Bancorp, Inc., used the last year to firm up its position as a 21st century provider of learning solutions, offering employees the latest technologies and innovations for growth.

With offices across multiple states, New York Community Bancorp, Inc., faced the common challenge of delivering consistent training within the organization. In response, the company distinguished itself by offering future-oriented technology solutions while expanding on the diversity of content and programming.

Employees were able to access both recorded and virtual instructor-led training; leverage resources, such as a blog based on employee-to-employee sharing and on-demand video demonstrations; and participate in interactive training via their mobile devices. With new initiatives around recruitment and employee retention, and an eye toward continuous improvement, the company is well primed for the future.

Mobile and Flexible

Offering a topnotch learning experience has meant finding ways to make New York Community Bancorp’s programs widely available regardless of location. “Our greatest training challenge in the last year has been the ability to deliver consistent training across our multi-state footprint,” says Vice President, Instructional Design Manager, Employee Development & Training Joelle Divine. “Contributing factors include regional differences, as well as varied skill levels. In an effort to address this challenge, we have expanded the resources we provide to our internal Training team, as well as our participants.”

In January 2017, the company redesigned its Teller Fundamentals Training Program to include a variety of delivery methods, such as instructor-led facilitation, video demonstrations, simulations, self-study, role-play activities, group discussions, and practical system application. Six months after implementation, there was already evidence of increased participant assessment and evaluation scores, including:

  • Reduced turnover rates: A 13 percent decrease in the number of employees who leave the organization after training.
  • Increased employee satisfaction: A 9 percent increase in the satisfaction employees have with the support they received during training.
  • Increased customer satisfaction: Expected customer service behaviors are met 96 percent of the time, and customer satisfaction ratings have improved from 96 percent to 97 percent.
  • Increased operational efficiency: The accuracy of required paperwork completion increased by 10 percent, and the accuracy of transaction processing increased by 12 percent. In addition, 97 percent of employees did not have a teller difference within their first 90 days on the job.

The company also developed an interactive learning experience utilizing mobile devices to educate employees on the customer experience of a new service offering. Top executives kicked off the learning and then participated in the program and endorsed the new service. Training consisted of hands-on application by way of a mobile device (smartphone/iPad) using genuine customer scenarios, results feedback delivered via text and/or e-mail messages, and monetary rewards for completed activities.

Employees who participated in the training “experienced the customer experience,” and were encouraged to share their feedback (both positive and negative) from a customer’s perspective. “This state-of-the-art approach yielded positive business results, as 65 percent of our customer base has enrolled in the new service, leading to decreased costs, increased deposits, and customer retention,” Divine says.

The Virtual Way

Virtual instructor-led training, which offers many different ways to access the programming, is becoming the norm at New York Community Bancorp. “More and more of our learning and development programs are moving from the classroom to the computer,” Divine explains. “While traditional instructor-led training (ILT) programs are still essential for many learning initiatives, virtual instructor-led training (VILT) is a good choice for several reasons, including, but not limited to reducing the travel-related costs of bringing people together for in-person sessions and the ability to provide training across multiple locations and time zones.”

Divine notes, however, that moving ILT to VILT is not as simple as taking existing training materials and putting them online. To move existing programs to a virtual platform, the Learning team has to carefully think through the design, development, and implementation of the program.

“Facilitating training in a virtual environment is much different than in a classroom setting, where you can see participant reactions and body language, and respond to the energy in the room,” says Divine. “That means a facilitator who excels in person may need to learn new skills when moving to virtual training. One of the biggest changes for our internal Training team when going virtual will be mastering the technology.”

When using a platform such as WebEx, Divine says facilitators have to manage a PowerPoint presentation and videos, share their screen, run breakout sessions, monitor questions in the Q&A panel, comment on information shared in the chat panel, and post polling questions, all while presenting the training material. In addition, to actively participating and engaging in the VILT program, participants need to know how to use the various WebEx tools.

To help the Training team, and learners, the company created on-demand videos that demonstrate how to use the technology. “Additionally,” says Divine, “we plan on conducting train-the-trainer sessions where our facilitators can practice using the tools in order to fully master them and the art of leading a virtual training session.”

The use of video training has allowed the company to train more employees in a shorter amount of time, resulting in lower training costs ($398,844 savings) and increased training opportunities (46 percent of employees). The company’s employee development and training plan for 2018 includes the continued expansion of on-demand video training to reach a goal of saving 25 percent of the training budget.

Interactive Learning Community

Since the best help sometimes comes from fellow learners, the Learning team maintains a blog that contains common questions and scenarios, along with their responses, resolutions, comments, or requests to follow up. Employees are encouraged to review and contribute to the blog to share best practices and solve problems utilizing their peers as a resource. “Over the last year, we have seen a 10 percent increase in the number of employees contributing to the blog, including top executives,” says Divine. “The blog has proven to be a reliable and successful method of training, as it supports our organization’s goal of enhancing employee engagement activities.” The numbers back up Divine’s enthusiasm: A change in behavior has been noted, as the number of questions and errors related to a specific topic, highlighted on the blog, has decreased by 60 percent.

Creating Opportunity

When it comes to employee hiring and development, New York Community Bancorp always has its eye on recruiting the best talent, from both inside and outside. “Our organization focuses on career development, and fully supports providing new opportunities to existing employees,” Divine points out. In the last year, the company has filled 79 percent of open management positions with internal employees seeking promotions, and filled 60 percent of all job openings with internal employees looking to broaden their experience within the organization. Divine says that as advantageous as the company’s recruitment approach is, challenges remain, particularly in recruiting for entry-level positions.

To facilitate recruitment of top talent for entry-level positions, the company offers a College Applicant Program (CAP) designed exclusively for college students seeking part-time employment opportunities that do not require prior experience. A variety of positions are available within the program, and include the following benefits:

  • On-campus recruiting
  • Paid training
  • Competitive salary
  • Flexible work hours
  • Paid time off to study
  • Performance-based "end-of-semester" bonuses of up to 30 percent
  • Free membership to the Student Advantage Program
  • Recognition for graduation

The company also offers salary perks to non-CAP part-time employees and employees working 12 hours or less per week.

To make sure hiring managers are at the top of their game, the Learning team offers a recruiting and hiring course that reviews the steps of the recruiting and hiring process, including using the system and additional resources. Participants learn how to identify top talent in their communities for available positions, as well as how to conduct interviews that conform to legal guidelines. They also receive information on how to evaluate and compare candidates to select the most qualified applicant for the position. "Through the support of this program, 82 percent of job openings have been filled within 30 days of being posted," says Divine. "This has resulted in higher productivity and decreased costs, as evidenced by our efficiency ratio (41.10 percent)."

Prioritizing Learning

Learning is a primary value at New York Community Bancorp. Top executives model the belief in the importance of training. The executive management team determines the company's training plan, based on the organization's strategic plan and direction. The corporate director of Employee Development and Training reviews key training initiatives monthly with the chief operating officer and chief administrative officer to determine how learning deliverables are aligned to, and support, the organization's goals.

"Learning and Development is given high priority among all business units within our organization," Divine says. "The development of our employees is given continuous attention, as we recognize that their growth and development is critical for our ongoing success. Learning paths and individual development plans have been defined, and are reviewed regularly, through partnerships within our organization to support this growth. Members of our organization greatly appreciate the opportunities and resources available to them, and recognize the value of continued learning and development."


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