How Royal American Increased Training Compliance by 55%
Royal American Management manages multifamily portfolios for over 200 communities and more than 18k units nationwide. Using Grace Hill’s Vision 2020 LMS, the company recently restructured their training program resulting in 89% of employees completing required training, up from 34% just three years earlier. Lori Agudo, Director of Training & Talent Development for Royal American, was a driving force behind the achievement. Read the interview we had with Lori to find out how the company generated this remarkable increase.
Company: Royal American Management
Starting compliance rate: 34%
Current compliance rate: 89%
Product Used: Vision 2020 LMS
First, can you give us some background on why you needed to revamp your training program?
“When I started with Royal American in 2017 as their first-ever Regional Trainer, we were at around 34% training compliance as a company. By finding creative ways to motivate our employees and get them excited about training, we managed to bring that number to 54%. But that was as far as we could get.
“Our employees were so far behind, they were just skipping through training to check a box or get off the ‘naughty list.’ They were doing just enough to pass the course and get their supervisor off their back, which is not the intention. Our Talent & Training Coordinator, Ellen Wilkins, and I knew that to progress further, we needed to re-evaluate all our training assignments, courseload, and timelines.”
“It’s about reducing risk and making sure our employees have the tools they need to be successful. Without proper training, our employees are out there flying blind, and that puts us at risk of litigation on so many fronts.”
How did you convince executive leadership of the importance of training compliance?
“It really came down to showing them that it’s not just about a compliance score. It’s about reducing risk and making sure our employees have the tools they need to be successful. Without proper training, our employees are out there flying blind, and that puts us at risk of litigation on so many fronts.
“We looked at turnover rates, the results of exit surveys, and data from risk management regarding workers’ compensation claims and fair housing claims. We identified where we were struggling and where the opportunities were. We already had a product in place that could help us improve in these areas if we just utilized it the right way and made it a priority.”
What did the restructuring process look like?
We looked at what was actually being assigned to each employee. Was it truly relevant to their position? Was it truly relevant to their job responsibilities? Then we looked at course load. We’d been requiring employees to complete all the required training within the first 11 months of hire, so they’d had a very heavy course load the first 11 months and then after that nothing, no continuing education. All these great courses that are specific to our industry (which is the whole reason we use the Vision LMS to begin with) were just not being viewed.
We relied heavily on best practice guidance from our Grace Hill Account Manager, Jay Thompson. Jay informed us that our industry peers were on average not scheduling more than three to four hours of training per month. We took that recommendation and stretched out our overall timeline. Our new timeline is close to three years. So within their initial three years of employment, there’s some sort of Grace Hill training employees are doing. For example, they may get assigned a quick start course first, where they get little nuggets of information, enough to get acclimated and then later on, they’ll take the full course.
Besides restructuring the course load and assignments, are there any other actions you took to increase training compliance?
“There are a few things we’ve done actually. With the restructure, we made training compliance part of regional managers’ KPI metric. So every quarter, part of what they are graded on is Grace Hill compliance, both individually and as a portfolio. We’ve also made 100% Grace Hill compliance a requirement for any transfer requests.
“But mostly, it took hiring the right person. Our Training & Talent Coordinator, Ellen Wilkins, is very good at motivating employees and keeping training at the forefront of everyone’s minds. She actually picks up the phone and says, ‘Hey, I see you guys are struggling. What can I do to help you get caught up?’ Some people just don’t feel comfortable asking for help. They don’t want to look stupid. Maybe they didn’t know they could download and fill out the workbook to basically make the test open-book.
“We have many employees for whom English is a second language. Having training available in their first language, for example, in Spanish, can improve both their comfort and comprehension.”
“Or maybe they didn’t realize they could select a different language version of a course they’re assigned. We have many employees for whom English is a second language. Having training available in their first language, for example, in Spanish, can improve both their comfort and comprehension. You know, diversity and inclusion is a real focus for many organizations today, and that applies to training too.”
How did COVID impact your company’s training program?
“I’ve said it before: anyone who didn’t already get the importance of training before COVID really gets it now. Nobody had a blueprint for how to manage this crisis. We’ve had viruses before, but we’ve never had a situation where we had to provide such widespread resources so quickly. Education and information sharing has been key.
The fact that Grace Hill was able to adapt and get all that critical information released into courseware on such a tight timeline has been invaluable to us as a client. We assign everything Grace Hill releases related to COVID. It’s been the number one resource for us to educate our employees on everything about the virus, from proper use of PPE to eviction moratoriums.
What benefits have you seen as a result of improving training compliance?
“To have an organization with 18,000 plus units have only two open claims is almost unheard of.”
We’ve experienced improvements in every area of opportunity we identified prior to the restructure. Turnover has decreased, as have housing claims. We have 230 properties, and we only have two open housing complaints right now, and they’re disgruntled residents. To have an organization with 18,000 plus units have only two open claims is almost unheard of.
Our long-term employees see such a difference. They’ve never had so many tools to be successful. They had to figure everything out for themselves, so to speak. We get so many positive comments from them, saying, ‘This is amazing. I really wish we’d had this when I started!’ That in itself is a success story!