Building a workforce for the future
An Equitable Life Assurance Society case study

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Page 3: Types of training

There are a number of different types of training:

  • Induction. Induction training is given to new employees. It familiarises them with the organisation and its rules. It can also be used to show the new employees specific job skills e.g. filling in a proposal form, dealing with customers over the telephone etc.
  • Upgrading skills. As we have seen, the nature of work changes constantly. This has been particularly true in recent years at The Equitable Life with the introduction of new technology. It is therefore necessary to upgrade employees’ skills constantly e.g. by helping them master new IT skills, but also to develop their customer service skills e.g. letter writing and telephone skills, to cope with the demands of today’s customers.
  • Multi-skilling. Multi-skilling is the process of training employees to do a number of different tasks. Today’s employees need to have a multitude of different skills in order to be able to cope with a variety of tasks. This work flexibility can be developed through training. Today, organisations like The Equitable Life want employees with a ‘can do’ approach to problem solving and decision making.

‘On-the-job’ and ‘Off-the-job’ training

Equitable Life Assurance Society 3 Image 2On-the-job training involves learning new skills through experience at work. A new employee will be given a ‘mentor’ to help them settle into the organisation and to coach them. The employee is able to try out new skills in real situations. Charles Anderson of Lloyds Bank argued (Ashridge Journal, April 1994) that due to the complexity of new products, higher expectations of customers and ever more elaborate and sophisticated support systems ‘it is simply impossible to prescribe the correct way to handle all possible situations. On-the-job coaching is the only way for people to learn the necessary skills: by working with an experienced coach, who can help them to extract the general principles and issues which lie behind specific incidents.’

Off-the-job training involves taking employees away from their jobs to be trained. It can be done within the company’s premises or externally, at courses run by specialist training groups. Off-the-job training tends to be more expensive due to trainers’ fees and because the employees are unable to produce any work while they are away. However, off-the-job training enables employees to look at a wider variety of approaches and can provide a refreshing change of scene.

The Society’s staff have been instrumental in its success because of their adaptability to change. In recent years, the Society has introduced a number of initiatives to help existing and new staff become more effective.

Equitable Life Assurance Society | Building a workforce for the future