DAYTON, Ohio -- Dorothy Lane Market here is leaving its traditional training methods behind this month as it launches automated training through its intranet system.
By implementing automated training, the retailer plans to significantly reduce the time required for employee training -- a process that can take up to 18 hours per new employee.
"We plan to cut our employee training hours in half once automated training is fully implemented," said Patrick Arnold, webmaster for Dorothy Lane.
Rather then relying on department managers and skilled associates to provide classroom training, "the computer acts as the instructor who works one-on-one with the associates and gives us immediate feedback on their progress," he added.
Dorothy Lane's six-month-old intranet will enable its new hires to learn about the retailer's policies, customer service, Occupational Safety and Health Administration compliance and produce identification, via multimedia presentations.
As employees sit at a computer, they call up the retailer's intranet web page to access the new training option. From the page's opening screen, students choose which area they will train in.
"Audio and visual multimedia components will enhance our associates' learning experience more than traditional classroom training through manuals," Arnold explained. The associate goes through the training module, and completes the session with a quiz on the displayed material.
"As associates click on answers with the mouse, the system explains which questions were missed and reviews those specific sections," he said.
The two-store retailer began beta testing of the training via the secured network more than two months ago, among both its management and current employees.
Dorothy Lane began pursuing automated training after researching more traditional computer-based training systems.
"Our human resources director showed us a catalog of different systems that were available," he said. "After seeing the exorbitant costs, we decided we could produce our own system in-house."
In addition to cost, customizing the modules was also a concern. "If we purchased a third-party module we would need additional training [sessions] in order to teach new hires our products and policies," he said. "It was not worth the investment."
According to Arnold, creating the training system in-house may lead to a quick return on investment. "We expect to get our money back within a year because we did the system ourselves and it took a reasonably short time to create it," Arnold said.
Besides a quick payback, the retailer also hopes to reap benefits from the system soon.
"Within three to six months we want our new hires to be fully trained via the automated system, using as little human intervention as possible," he said. "The system leads to better [employee] retention of information than a handbook, which in turn gives us a better employee."