Top 10 Hall of Fame Outstanding Training Initiatives (March/April 2017)

Each year Training magazine requires all Training Top 10 Hall of Famers to submit an Outstanding Training Initiative that is shared with our readers in a print issue. Here are the details of KPMG LLP's Audit New Hire Forum.

KPMG LLP: Audit New Hire Forum

The leaders of KPMG LLP’s Audit practice believe that success will rely on the ability—as individuals and as an organization—to learn continuously. Professionals at all levels need to be proactive in building skills, enhancing knowledge, and exploring possibilities throughout the year.

The Audit New Hire Forum, an innovative approach to year-round learning based in an integrated Web portal, helps KPMG’s newest Audit professionals take ownership of their own development and establish a mindset of continuous learning. To date, 1,600 Audit professionals have used the portal.

Program Details

Commitment to compliance with training requirements is deeply embedded in the culture of KPMG’s organization. In developing the Audit New Hire Forum, the Learning and Development team was challenged to add a new dimension of learner-driven exploration to the culture without in any way undermining the important commitment to training compliance.

The team chose a vendor option that could be customized to create an interface that organized content with the enduser in mind, considering when and how self-paced training, on-demand resources, and social collaboration would be most impactful.

The resulting Audit New Hire Forum is a visually engaging Web portal designed to help new Audit professionals take ownership of their development, and take more accountability for their continuous learning.

Existing learning resources are organized into one easy-to-use interface and grouped into chapters, giving users a clear picture of how and when the content will be most relevant to them. Chapters include a clear indication of which resources are required (and when they must be completed). Chapters also showcase related elective resources. Within this same interface—positioned alongside these required and elective resources—participants have the opportunity to engage in social and collaborative learning.

The interface empowers learners to take action quicker. It reduces the time that might otherwise be spent searching for content, and increases learner confidence in the relevance of the content. They are encouraged to explore resources, comment on them, and share them with others. KPMG found that new hires were interested in sharing questions and comments with peers and instructors online, but were more likely to participate if:

  • The social p latform were connected to the resources they needed to access (and did not require a visit to a separate site).

  • Social learning activities were conducted in a “safe environment” where posted comments and questions (that might indicate a lack of knowledge or confidence) were only visible to the new hires and program moderators.

To further entice learner engagement, the entire experience is gamified. Learners earn points when they interact with a content item, more points for posting comments, and still more points if their posts are “liked" by others. Importantly, learners earn more points for launching elective content than for launching required content. Game deadlines are aligned with milestones in the engagement cycle: Professionals who accumulate the highest point total in each game are eligible to win prizes.

Results

The Audit New Hire Forum has been effective in achieving KPMG’s three key objectives:

1. It has helped new hires access the learning they need.

According to KPMG's most recent Employee Engagement survey:

  • 93 percent of new Audit associates indicated satisfaction with their opportunities for learning and development.

  • 89 percent of new Audit associates indicated satisfaction with the guidance they receive on the job.

  • 84 percent of new Audit associates indicated satisfaction with the training they receive on their clients' changing needs.

2. It has helped increase efficiency in learning.

The Forum has reduced the time spent searching for learning resources, and usage of these resources has skyrocketed. At the same time, the number of e-mail communications about these resources has been dramatically reduced.

3. It has helped create a culture of continuous learning.

KPMG has seen a dramatic shift in participant behavior. After the introduction of the New Hire Forum:

  • Content views logged by new hires increased from 1,500 to 26,000.

  • The number of content-related comments and questions posted by new hires increased from 121 to more than 12,000.

  • More new hires completed required training, three-plus days ahead of deadline, indicating that they were more proactive in scheduling time to complete their training at a time when they could fully engage.

KPMG deployed a follow-on curated Forum site to serve these professionals in their second year with the firm. Through four months of activity, these second-year associates nearly doubled the high levels of participation they set in their first year.

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