From left: ADP’s Jill Altana, vice president of global talent and learning; Sonya Tracy, director of learning solutions; Carrie Beckstrom, vice president of learning and performance; and Carolyn Peer, manager of learning solutions.
When human capital management products are what you sell to customers, you’d better be pretty good at it yourself.
That’s the philosophy guiding Automatic Data Processing Inc.’s learning and development approach. They call it “HR leading HCM.” And L&D is front and center.
“It’s really incumbent upon us to demonstrate our ability to be a best-in-class learning organization so we can back up our products with that best-in-class practitioner approach,” said Carrie Beckstrom, vice president of learning and performance at ADP Global Enterprise Solutions.
The goal, Beckstrom said, is to support the company’s human capital management, or HCM, products and services, which include its widely used payroll and benefits products, cloud-based HCM software and human resources business process outsourcing services with industry-leading HR practices.
“Given our area of expertise, L&D, HR and talent professionals across the organization support the strategy in a unique and meaningful way by striving to be the leading practitioners of human capital management,” Beckstrom said.
The results in this year’s LearningElite indicate the efforts are paying off. The New Jersey-based company, which employs 52,000 people doing business in more than 130 countries, moved up the ranks to No. 5 this year from No. 8 in 2014.
But learning and development at ADP isn’t just an internal priority. In addition to developing employees, Beckstrom and her team are also responsible for supporting ADP’s more than 610,000 clients, providing implementation and ongoing training on ADP products for companies of all sizes, from local small- and med-businesses up to massive global corporations.
To meet the needs of that fast-paced global business, Beckstrom’s team embraced a dynamic delivery model to keep pace with demand. The aim is to use technology to ensure learning is both scalable yet personalized to the individual employee’s or client’s moment of need, she said.
To make that happen, ADP embeds learning into the company’s customer relationship management system and uses social and collaborative tools as well as short, targeted bursts of learning, or microlearning.
The Learning Bytes program, which delivers two-minute task demonstrations via video on demand, helped ADP reduce development time by 50 percent, reduce client curriculum training to seven hours from 24 hours and reduce calls
to the service center, saving millions in costs, according to the company.
That sort of internal and external effect is core to her team’s L&D approach, Beckstrom said. “It really doesn’t make a difference if you’re not able to substantiate in measureable ways the impact learning is having,” she said.
That sort of effect didn’t come without some effort. Four years ago, ADP set out to examine how they were investing in learning and where to focus in order to have the greatest effect. Using Bersin by Deloitte’s Training Investment Model, ADP determined just a small fraction of investment was aligned with strategic business needs.
According to Beckstrom, 96 percent of investments were aligned to day-to-day operations such as training development and delivery at the time, limiting her team’s ability to respond to the needs of business. Today, that mix is 60 percent operational and 40 percent strategic and enables the learning group to introduce new offerings more closely tied to overall business goals.
One of those goals is to grow a pipeline of “ready-now” leaders in the company’s sales organization. Started five years ago, the sales leadership development program provides a blended learning experience that combines rigorous assessment and selection with experiential learning, coaching, field activities and interaction with ADP executives to cultivate the next generation of sales leaders.
According to Beckstrom, 87 percent of ADP graduates have been placed in leadership roles. They are delivering on sales goals at 6 to 8 percent higher level than leaders who did not go through the program. “A key success factor to that is the very rich, robust learning and development we provide,” she said.
To continue that mission of HR leading human capital management products, ADP’s learning team continues to engage with internal and external clients and build tools and training with a focus on technology and collaboration.
Last year, they rolled out ADP Works, an internal collaboration tool that connects employees and provides instant access to subject-matter experts. The program started with a pilot group of 800 participants and grew to more than 8,000 employees in the first six months. On the customer side, they’re also developing The Bridge, a collaboration platform that allows external clients to collaborate with one another.
All told, it’s an exciting time to be a part of L&D at ADP. “I love it,” Beckstrom said.