Ever felt like internal training wasn't being delivered in a very professional way? Ruby Ru, head of HR at Glanbia Nutritionals for Asia Pacific, speaks out on the impact the right incentives can have on internal training professionals.

A number of organisations prefer to scale their in-house training programmes over an external solutions provider for reasons such as lower cost and closer quality assurance. One of these is Glanbia Nutritionals, an Ireland-headquartered performance nutrition and ingredients group, operating in Asia through more than 10 offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Shanghai, and a plant in Suzhou, among others.

Based in Shanghai is Ruby Ru, head of HR at Glanbia Nutritionals for Asia Pacific, and she spoke about the impact the right incentives can have on internal training professionals.

“Like many companies, we have a group of people responsible for internal training, as facilitators. But when the HR department conducted training quality assessment, we found that the training was not being delivered in a very professional way, therefore the takeaway from the training was limited. Additionally, more and more critical customer auditors challenged us, saying our internal trainers needed to be certified,” she explains.

The solution: Eliminating the “extra workload” tag for internal trainers

In response, Glanbia launched a series of initiatives in August 2016 – a specific selection criteria for trainers, an upgrade of their training skills, and a host of cash and non-cash rewards to incentivise them for better quality of training.

“The programme certifies and professionalises our internal trainers by reviewing their performance based on the feedback from trainees. Excellent trainers are rewarded with an incentive bonus. This programme is driving our internal trainers to deliver higher quality and more professional training. Moreover, it is benefiting the trainers by developing their careers.”

The selection process is not only more stringent now, but also differentiates the performance of trainers, with employees who clear the process called junior internal trainers. A number of written and public presentation activities are designed to push potential trainers to step out of their comfort zone and upgrade their competency to a higher level. “Internal trainers are divided into different levels – junior, intermediate and senior,” Ru says.

As an incentive to attain the next level, they get an increasing training allowance along the scale as well as greater development opportunities. Special awards and bonuses are given to excellent internal trainers every year during the annual dinner.

So what was previously perceived as an “extra workload” has now been replaced with an evaluation system with elimination as well as reward mechanisms. While internal training responsibilities were previously designated by line managers, with a lack of systematic training skills identification, this has been replaced by a process of selection, certification, development plan and management. “Where previously there was no recognition from the company to reward this ‘extra’ contribution from trainers, we now have rewards – both cash and non-cash – for example, a training allowance to create a winwin situation for internal trainers.”

In her view, the key challenge in rolling out this campaign was the support of the line managers, who were also the most important stakeholders. “HR needed to let them know we are their partners; and they, in turn, are the key persons for an employee’s development. So their role in this programme is to give inputs and be actively involved in every step of this programme, as the biggest benefit for them is the development of their employees.”

In line with this, she lists three clear don’ts for others engaging in such a project: don’t fail to align the programme to the line mangers; don’t allow the programme to be perceived as purely an HR event; and don’t leave development solely up to the internal trainers.

The outcome: Respect for training

Glanbia is tracking its success metrics on the quality of internal training courses. Assessment is being done not solely on the satisfaction rate, but additionally towards the effectiveness of the trainers in accelerating what trainees are being trained for. “More than that, through the series of events we improved the engagement and morale; and several ‘star’ employees came forward, who could be targeted as our high-potential staff,” she says.

READ THE FULL FEATURE: The search for rewards strategies that please ‘em all