Every company takes a unique approach to training its workforce, and technology is changing corporate universities. From training on core values to professional certifications to leadership development opportunities, Aquilent’s corporate university strives to support employees’ career advancement and, in turn, deliver “enhanced value” to customers.
In addition to offering tuition reimbursement, onboarding processes, and “unique training events,” the company’s 350 employees have access to various types of training programs through Aquilent University, says Pam Butziger, chief Human Resources officer.
For example, during an 18-month period, each employee is required to take a series of 10 classes covering Aquilent solutions and core values, she explains. Employees also have access to about 20 professional certifications, as well as technology seminars and conferences aimed at helping employees “gain more in-depth knowledge and meet with peers in their areas of expertise.”
Managers can enroll in leadership and management training courses, and all employees have access to Lynda.com, which Butziger describes as “a massive database of any and all types of training that any employee can take at any time—regardless of its relevance to their job.”
Two of the company’s management training programs include “Leadership Training” and “Manager Transitions,” which are both offered in person. Leadership Training teaches the highest level managers about Aquilent’s strategic direction and provides training on “soft skills” and management best practices, she says.
Meanwhile, “Manager Transitions is a course designed for new managers—either an employee moving into a first-time management role, or someone who has been a manager of employees and is now moving into a role as a manager of managers,” Butziger explains. “The course focuses on some of the transition experiences each may encounter as well as the skills needed to make these transitions successful.”
“Our course offerings and delivery methods continue to evolve as our company—and technology—evolves,” Butziger adds. “For delivery methods, for example, we’ve just added e-learning capabilities for those courses that do not necessarily require in-person attendance.”
“We’re also evolving Aquilent University to align more closely with our corporate direction. Within the past 18 months, we’ve created a Training Committee that considers all employee certification and training requests and evaluates each from a strategic perspective,” she says. “Finally, we’re evolving Aquilent University to be more employee driven. We have ‘Communities of Practice,’ employee-run mentorship and training groups centered on technology or skill areas, where the group creates its own mission and establishes rotating group leadership.”
Aquilent University was among the programs cited by the company when it was named one of the “50 Best Workplaces” by Inc. this summer. “Aquilent University has always been—and continues to be—incredibly successful,” says Butziger. “The combination of Aquilent-specific training and the encouragement employees get to pursue professional certifications sets employees up for success by being more informed, aware, and connected. As an employee, you know as soon as you’re hired that Aquilent supports you and wants to see you advance.”
What are the secrets to success for running an effective corporate university? “Without a doubt, the most critical success factor is the company leadership—that the leadership understands the value of something like Aquilent University,” Butziger says. Second, “be sure the classes and delivery methods of those classes are meaningful to the audience. For example, make sure you offer the ‘How to fill out your timesheet [sic]’ class within the first week of employment rather than months down the road.”
Communication also is key, she says. “Make sure you’re providing regular and consistent communication to all employees on the great things you’re offering and how to take advantage of them.”
In tomorrow’s Advisor, we discuss obstacles in a popular technology training tool—gamification.