Webinar Wrap-Up: How to Incentivize Learning at Your Law Firm

I don’t mind sounding proud… I AM PROUD! The ILTA “Ask the Expert” webinar that we hosted on May 6 was a whopping success. We received so many notes of gratitude and we even heard from people who re-watched the entire event recording! (Watch it here if you haven’t already.)

Since it can be easier and faster to read an article than to watch a webinar, I thought I’d share some of my notes in a blog.

If you have any questions about this webinar, or about the SavvyAcademy LMS, which all of these panelists use, please contact me today. Doug@SavvyTraining.com or 303-800-5408.

MLT Aikins

With offices in three Canadian time zones, Training Specialist Christine Becker acknowledges that her training program at MLT Aikins has to be flexible enough to achieve success in different cultures.

“Each office even manages new hires just a bit differently,” she says. “So, I’ve found that the key to success is strong communication. We take the initiative on ourselves to call every office manager on a regular basis. Every time a new hire is made, we jump on it!”

Additionally, the training team joins a brief call every day to discuss and adjust any plans.

According to Christine, MLT Aikins has instituted an Independent Development Plan (IDP) for every staff member. The firm’s trainers partner with Human Resources to work with each person’s annual goals, which may include learning brand new software or improving skills on existing tools.

Staff who successfully achieve their goals receive a bonus, which gives them an added incentive to work with Christine’s team.

“We work hard to understand each person’s goals so that we can give them learning experiences that actually help them,” says Christine. “For example, we provide testing environments in our technologies so that people can play and practice without breaking anything.”

Christine also says that the training team adds new learning content to the learning management system every month so that users are sure to find something new every time they visit the portal.

“We are very user-focused,” she added. “We want to provide new content that is very useful to our firm.”

Burns White

Mary Lynn Fritz, Business Analyst and Trainer with Burns White, also provided tangible examples of ways to incentivize learning.

In a previous firm, Mary Lynn offered a Desktop Application Certification Program to legal assistants. The main programs that people wanted to take were Word, Excel and PowerPoint. However, Mary Lynn said the trainers worked to provide learning content on any application that the legal assistants wanted to learn.

“People could achieve Bronze, Silver and Gold levels, based on the number of classes they took and whether they leveled up,” says Mary Lynn. “When they completed their certification, we printed a very nice certificate for them and they were very proud to post it at their desk. People definitely saw their learning and achievement as a point of pride.”

Those learners who achieved Gold in all three of the main applications received an engraved clock. Once a year, anyone who receive Gold-level status was invited to a luncheon. During that event, one learner’s name was drawn out of a hat and the winner got to take a weekend for two at Tara Inn.

“People loved that,” says Mary Lynn. “It was a huge incentive and they all felt really valued.”

Mary Lynn says that HR also worked with the program and provided bonuses and raises to those who achieved certification.

Goldberg & Osborne

Letty Shreckengost, Learning and Development Coordinator at Goldberg & Osborne, also had some great ideas to share during the webinar.

At her firm, which is also called “The Eagle” in local marketing campaigns, they offer “Eagle Bucks” for achieving learning goals.

“People receive Eagle Bucks for taking and passing non-required coursework,” says Letty. “We partnered with HR so that people get a bonus, which we call Eagle Bucks.”

Another key factor of their program is marketing, says Letty.

“Every time someone passes a course or earns Eagle Bucks, we announce it to the firm,” she says. “We find that it has created a culture in which people want to grow and expand their skills.”

Letty says that the program was developed by a cross-departmental team consisting of people from HR, IT and management.

“It was crucial to get everyone’s buy-in from the beginning,” she explains. “Some managers were worried that people would be more inclined to take courses than to do their daily work, so we set a work/training balance. People don’t receive bonuses for going beyond set course limits.”

Best of all, Letty has proof that the program has incentivized learning.

“When we started the program, people were taking about 150 courses,” she says. “Today, just one year later, people are taking over 600 courses!”

She says people are taking the initiative to learn more.

“People are enrolling themselves using our LMS,” she said. “Self-enrollment tripled after we implemented the program.”

Thanks to these three professionals who volunteered their time to participate in the “Ask the Expert” session. Savvy is tremendously grateful to them and we are honored to also call them our clients. (Watch the recorded webinar event here.)

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