How Hands-on Learning Labs Help Mercer Accelerate Onboarding and Performance

Employer-employee connections define a workplace and influence every employment experience. Establishing trust via recruiting, onboarding, and continuous career development can make or break a company’s culture and bottom line. Cloud-based virtual learning laboratories are a catalyst for restoring employee faith in training, and companies are finally on board.

Trust is essential. It’s a timeless principle that has served as the foundation of great organisations in every field. Employer-employee connections define a workplace and have a good or bad influence on every element of a person’s employment experience. Setting the tone early in the recruiting process, from hiring and onboarding to ongoing skills and career development, will surely define a company’s culture as well as its bottom line.

Application software training is a good illustration of how building trust in the workplace may deliver great benefits. Whether you are a C-level executive, a middle manager, or a front-line employee, training has mostly migrated away from in-person instruction and towards a more contemporary, virtual (or hybrid) paradigm. While the COVID-19 pandemic tipped the implementation scale in favour of learning lab environments, the progression towards virtual and hybrid training has been racing to the forefront of training and development programmes since the turn of the millennium. It now depends on the constructive collaboration of learning and development (L&D), human resources (HR), information technology (IT), and operations.

Onboarding in Software Application Training

Whether on-site, remote, or hybrid, the average cost of recruiting and onboarding an employee is $4,000, and it takes around six months for a firm to start seeing returns on a new-hire investment. Cloud-based training tools that minimise the cost of shipping hardware, avoid costly installs, and eliminate the need to labour through extensive instruction manuals can assist to cut staff ramp-up time and streamline the onboarding process.

Secure, scalable learning lab environments that can be deployed with an internet browser connection and provide complete training capability with the flip of a switch result in a superior employee experience. From onboarding to role-based software application training to ongoing education, the standardisation and deployment of virtual learning laboratories result in real-world development experiences that may be customised to any sector. Employers and workers both gain from increased communication, cooperation, and adoption, which helps to strengthen trust within an organisation.

How Hands-on Learning Labs Help Mercer Accelerate Onboarding and Performance

Effective recruiting and onboarding processes reduce the cost of recruitment, enhance the chance of retention, and guarantee that the right individuals are linked with the jobs where they will be most productive. Mercer, part of the $20 billion professional services group Marsh McLennan, recognises the variables in that equation, and its current virtual training programmes for onboarding are now setting the standard for other businesses.

Mercer’s around 25,000 employees seek to transform investing results for millions of people in 130 countries. Throughout their Mercer careers, the staff will require training on various software applications. COVID-19 changed how Mercer implements L&D programmes, as it did for many other firms. Unlike others, its flexible architecture permitted a swift turnaround to produce 152,000 virtual (yet hands-on) training hours to raise engagement and performance beyond pre-pandemic levels.

Prior to moving to an online learning lab platform, Mercer used Zoom and Microsoft Teams as the primary communication platforms for virtual classes. However, both were limited in what they could offer when compared to the advantages of a physical classroom. They were not satisfying the demands of Mercer, its professors, or its students.

For instance:

The L&D team saw an increase in the amount of time spent on desktop setup, which irritated everyone.

Instructors had to stop a whole class to assist one lost learner, rather than being able to handle their needs and continue with class so they didn’t lose time or attention.els.

Due to technological and system integration issues, training settings were not easily available (or at all).

Hands-on training was not a possibility, which created a barrier between instructors and learners and hindered uptake.

Finally, Zoom and Teams failed to provide an efficient and effective solution to duplicate the best aspects of the physical, in-person classroom experience in a virtual context. Mercer needed to create a solution that would allow for engagement and performance, allowing learners to feel confident in the training they received. With a new 2022 recruiting class preparing for onboarding, the L&D team realised it was time for a change.

At Mercer, onboarding new employees was and still is a worldwide endeavour. The 700-person class of 2022 required quick training on all business systems during open enrollment. Previously, Mercer discovered that it took more than four weeks and an average of $854,000 to train staff during open enrollment, and that if the system went down, Mercer faced a loss of up to $210,000.

Mercer’s inventive L&D team redesigned training programmes with that new onboarding class, with the purpose of:

Reduce the time and expense involved with high-quality, personalised training.
Improve learner/instructor experience, engagement, and performance by deploying a cloud-based, hands-on virtual learning lab technique.
Simplify connection, improve feedback mechanisms, and offload as much platform responsibility as feasible from IT, and
Create a successful model that can be used to other Marsh McLennan enterprises.

Mercer transformed its learning experience for business-critical application training into an easy-to-setup and access virtual lab environment by leveraging an interactive, hands-on software application training platform. Learners and teachers were given access to a virtual desktop and teaching platform. The cloud-based setup also allowed facilitators to teach and watch learners in real-time, as well as take control of the settings if necessary, to further personalise support and knowledge transfer.

Cost, time, and resources (particularly IT resources) were saved; engagement and performance improved; communication and culture flourished; data and IP were safeguarded; and confidence in skill development and career progression was developed.

Mercer is currently spreading out its cloud-based virtual learning laboratories plan to other organisations for skill training and beyond in 2023. Furthermore, the L&D team is collaborating with internal operations and technology teams to integrate Mercer’s enterprise systems to streamline processes and deliver invaluable training solutions that meet the needs of every department.

Register for the upcoming Training Industry Conference & Expo (TICE) to hear Joe Schulz’s talk, «Cloud-based Virtual Learning Labs Rebuild Employee Trust in Training: A Mercer Use Case.»


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