ASTD provides several such tools at its Website
(see Resources), including the benchmark service that gathered the data
in the TSR study. Beware: it takes a lot of heavy lifting to fill out
the questionnaire. You must answer detailed questions in a 51-page
measurement kit, but your reward is a free report comparing your
company to others in ASTD's database, Van Buren says.
One company that scored high in the benchmarking service is Wisconsin
Public Service, (WPS; based in Green Bay, Wis.), which ASTD named a
training investment leader in its 2000 State of the Industry Report.
WPS maintains close partnerships with five nearby technical
colleges. "What we have done is create a kind of a branch campus at our
locations," says Frank Quisenberry, a WPS organizational-learning
consultant. Typically, the colleges provide professors who teach WPS
managers how to teach. The professors and the WPS staff also jointly
develop online learning systems, the focus of much of WPS's recent
efforts. While the company doesn't yet show training expenditures in
its annual report, the CEO is a training champion and touts the effort
Quisenberry says the most effective types of training seem to be
computer-related or technical -- say, giving meter readers who would
otherwise fall victim to automation a chance to learn new skills within
the company. Retention is such a corporate value that Quisenberry seems
to have little patience with the old-school fear that employee training
will only pay off for your competitors. Says Quisenberry: "If you don't
do it, they're going to walk out the door faster."