Seattle-based SAFECO provides insurance and related financial products to individuals and businesses throughout the world. A Fortune 500 company, SAFECO provides products through more than 17,000 independent agents and financial advisors throughout the world.
SAFECO has launched a management performance initiative, with an emphasis on accelerated development and leadership. The initiative is being launched to 625 managers in its first year and links performance goals with the strategic goals of the company, as well as providing incentives for each manager.
The company’s corporate learning and performance group reviewed many training solutions to find the best solution for SAFECO. The solution had to map to business needs, be easy to implement and meet low-bandwidth requirements.
“We’re on a very aggressive schedule to hit specific leadership and performance milestones based on company-wide annual goals,” said Karen Dowdall-Sandford, e-learning manager, corporate learning and performance, SAFECO. “Ninth House’s high-quality training was just what we were looking for. It’s built on proven leadership principles from brand-name authors and was very easy to get to our learners because of its streamlined deployment process.”
SAFECO also wanted a solution that was effective. “So much of the online training that’s out there just consists of PowerPoint “click to turn page” formats, as opposed to more advanced instructional design,” said Dowdall-Sandford. “Ninth House Network’s use of simulations and media provides a sound instructional methodology that’s more engaging. Usually people are limited to multiple-choice questions. Ninth House’s simulations are based on a sophisticated methodology that challenges people to make business decisions.”
While SAFECO has not completed its cost analysis to determine the ROI of its online training, it was aware of the cost benefits others have experienced. Ninth House customers surveyed estimated savings of $1,400 per person per training session. One customer saved an estimated $175,000 per 125 learners, while another customer attributes a training cost reduction of $138,000 to the solution.
The specific courses that SAFECO identified for its performance initiative were: Self Management with Ken Blanchard for the first phase of “Individual Goal Alignment,” Situational Leadership II with Ken Blanchard for the “Performance Development” phase and Capturing Brand You with Tom Peters for “Performance Development and Performance Evaluation” in the third phase. Throughout the process, SAFECO managers were encouraged to leverage performance support, consisting of three- to five-minute multimedia segments featuring the same authors on various subjects.
SAFECO rolled out the online training as part of a series of one-day training events. The training was introduced at the end of the session as a way to reinforce the classroom training sessions. This blended approach offers more choices, according to Dowdall-Sandford. “Initiatives like Ninth House are designed to complement and work alongside other learning approaches. To enjoy both new technology and the cream of other tried-and-trusted resources is to get the best of all worlds,” she said.
Courses were rolled out to managers in life insurance and investment, in small business insurance, in claims and across all the business lines. To date, more than 50 percent of learners have logged on to take a course. If individual managers want to enroll their employees, it’s simple to add other employee groups for training.
While new technology is revolutionizing learning and development at SAFECO, it will always work alongside and complement, rather than replace, the personal touch. The performance initiative is still in its first few months, and SAFECO is also launching in-classroom communication training, complemented by online learning. SAFECO plans to assess the success of the online learning and then move forward to roll out in other divisions in the company.
Jami York is a customer relationship manager with Ninth House Inc. For more information, visit the Ninth House Web site at www.ninthhouse.com.