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Navy Federal Credit Union has packaged key elements from its four-day New Employee Training (NET) program for staff assigned to its headquarters into a four-hour CD ROM for field and branch staff.

Developed by a team of employees from Field Operations, Field Mortgage and Training using NET as their model, the four-CD set called iNET covers everything from the history of the $19-billion credit union to security issues, corporate culture, professional behavior, professional development and quality service.

Jan Maguire, training branch manager-human resources, said the team spent a year deciding which material from the physical training program (introduced in 2001) would be relevant to branch and field employees, what additional issues needed to be addressed and how it would be packaged. For example, she said, headquarters has a "business casual" dress code while those in the field are required to be more formal since they are in the eye of their members.

"We have had such success in the classroom environment with our new employees program here at headquarters," she said, noting that employees who participated said they felt more confident in their work and closer to the organization. "But it was not being conducted for member services and other field employees. We wanted to develop a similar program for those employees who are geographically dispersed."

Maguire said each of the CU's 98 branches and 19 field mortgage offices has received a set of training CDs to train new hires typically in the few weeks after they begin employment. There is no timeline for completion, but there are quizzes to help assess the users level of understanding, areas that need more work or possible mentoring.

Each CD takes about one hour to complete, but it is not necessary to do it all in one sitting, Maguire said, explaining that the "smart" CDs allow the user to log off and log back on to the exact spot they left. The training is self-directed and includes video clips-such as the one from CEO Brian McDonnell-text and correlating graphics, pop-up boxes and interactive reviews or knowledge assessments using interactive "drag and drop" technology.

The development team felt strongly about the consistent training that didn't require guidance from busy managers, Maguire said, adding that branch managers are still required to give hands-on training regarding their new employees' day-to-day responsibilities.

They agreed that it's a great tool for large CUs who can't easily transport field employees to headquarters for training, for medium credit unions with limited training space and for small CUs with little training time to spare after performing their many daily duties.

"Our goal was to create something that was engaging and fun," Maguire said, describing the tone of the CDs as "conversational" and includes a guide who talks as if speaking to another employee. It includes lots of photos of NFCU employees on location, giving it the look and feel of Navy Federal, she said.

Maguire said new branch hires did receive training prior to the development of the CDs, however, consistency was lacking from one branch to another. She also said that the orientation program is only one of many ways the CU is using new technology. Since 1997, she said, the company has used both CDs and the Internet as learning tools. Presently, the CU staff is looking at other ways to use e-learning that could include use of both the Intranet and Internet.

"The feedback has been extremely positive from employees and their managers," Maguire said of iNET. While the program was developed for new employees, she said some managers are asking that all their staff to participate.

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