Greyhound Lines Inc. is in an e-learning state of mind.
Last year, the bus company decided to switch from focusing on classroom sessions to e-learning programs that teach leadership skills, customer service and team cooperation when and where employees need it.
Bobby Quinten, Greyhound’s director of training and development, said the decision to use e-learning came after reassessing the company’s learning management system. “We felt like the time had come to track and document the training they were doing, which was by and large the classroom system,” he said.
They decided to use an online learning portal to deliver training programs to employees. Since the switch the company has seen a drop in customer complaints, Quinten said. The on-demand training has also cut down on travel expenses and given both managers and front-line employees the ability to access programs immediately. “We run a 24-hour business,” Quinten said. “Time is pretty precious.”
That’s the way it has been for a century at Greyhound, which started in May 1914. “There aren’t a lot of companies who make it to 100. Those who do and reinvent themselves on the fly are really hard to find,” Quinten said.
That reinvention included introducing primarily the supervisory staff, made of approximately 600 employees, to programs available through OpenSesame Inc., an e-learning vendor launched in 2011 after receiving $185,000 from the Oregon Entrepreneur Network. Don Spear, president and CEO of the company, said that from the beginning its goal was to make purchasing e-learning programs as “simple as getting a song from iTunes.” Today the company has 3,000 customers from a breadth of industries, including health care, hospitality, retail and oil production. Its catalogue is composed of more than 20,000 courses from 400 sellers, all of which are available for download without a contract.
Compared to Greyhound’s century-old legacy, three years doesn’t seem like a long time to be in business. But because of the rapid changes to a young industry, Spear said the company has been able to see changes occurring in e-learning, mainly in the number and variety of companies adopting it for training. He gives some credit to Gen Y for encouraging the switch: “They grew up with Xboxes and computers, and so their expectation in general is that information and training should be available electronically.”
At Greyhound, a company that is literally always on the move, mobile learning is the next step. By the end of the year every driver will have a device to electronically scan tickets and update manifests, and Quinten hopes they’ll also use them for learning on the go. “As e-learning becomes more popular, we’re finding ways to improve the technologies of the field so that people can take advantage of the learning that’s out there,” he said.
Kate Everson is an associate editor at Chief Learning Officer magazine. She can be reached at keverson@CLOmedia.com.