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CTDO Magazine

Customized Skilling Leads to Job Excellence

Friday, April 15, 2022

Black Knight developed learning paths that connect learning and career goals, preparing employees for high-demand roles.

Solution: Custom learning journeys provide a pathway to upskilling and career fulfillment.

Business impact highlight: Black Knight achieved an internal career mobility rate of 70 percent as a result of custom career and technical learning.

Designed to engage learners and build their professional and technical skills, Black Knight's custom learning journeys offer employees a structured learning path toward a specific goal while also guiding them in reaching their long-term career aspirations.

In building custom learning journeys, the learning and leadership development team not only sought to make sure staff had the critical technical skills they needed to perform their jobs at the highest levels; we also wanted to build their professional confidence and engage them through learning.

The Foundation

Black Knight provides mortgage and finance businesses integrated technology, data, and analytics solutions that facilitate and automate business processes across the entire loan life cycle. Outside the corporate function, the bulk of the company's 7,000 employees work in technical roles—for example, as software developers, data analysts, and Agile project managers—which require both broad-ranging and specialized tech knowledge, skills, and capabilities.

Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, with offices across the US and India, Black Knight strives to innovatively lead its industry. Our team mirrors that sense of innovation because it provides support and development opportunities to  the workforce. One way we do that is by delivering custom learning journeys.

Everyone needs a road map

Easy to access and navigate, each stage of a learning journey takes employees step by step through a diverse set of topic areas, everything from onboarding to leadership development to technology-related skills to technical knowledge about the finance industry.

For example, every new hire is enrolled in two journeys: the New Hire Journey, which helps them progress through onboarding, and the industry-specific Mortgage 101 Journey, which educates them on general mortgage processes, Black Knight's products and services, and the impact the company's offerings provide customers.

As employees move along a journey's path, they access various assets, including videos, e-learning modules, and assorted performance support documents. Each stop along the way leads learners through existing knowledge and previous learnings toward their final destination of advanced technical and professional skills.

Each journey displays a learner's progress—checking off every content item they access and the overall hours of training they complete. A wide variety of brief learning assessments tied to specific knowledge applications inform employees where they are on their journey and how much further they need to go.

Meanwhile, managers can access dashboards in the learning management system that report on their direct reports' training and learning activity. The dashboards enable managers to view any custom learning journeys their employees have started and completed. In turn, that information enables managers and employees to have more detailed conversations about their individual performance plans, skill development, and career goals.

Deciding where to go

Our five-person learning and leadership development team regularly partners with the company's senior leaders (chief human resource officer, chief product strategy officer, and chief marketing officer) when planning corporate-wide learning initiatives. During those planning meetings, we typically glean insights on the trends on which leaders are focusing.

To identify the most critical technical and professional skills needed across the various business units, we developed a wide range of surveys. We first sought input from senior leadership across the different divisions about whether the survey questions aligned to the business unit's goals and objectives.

As a whole, senior leaders stressed the importance of upskilling the workforce so that it's prepared to fulfill the company's mission to deliver innovative, seamlessly integrated solutions with urgency. We also had a series of meetings with specific business unit leaders to help us further refine questions regarding technical skills.

We then delivered surveys to employees in a wide variety of roles and positions. We asked respondents to pinpoint the most critical technical and professional knowledge and capabilities they need to be successful in their roles, as well as any skills they aspire to learn. Employees had four weeks to complete the surveys, and more than 80 percent of them responded.

After compiling and analyzing the survey data, we shared it with senior leaders across the business units. They provided additional feedback and offered their insights about specific job roles and the skills the company needed to enhance, basing their opinions on business objectives.

Pairing the survey data with leadership's feedback helped our team prioritize topics to cover in the custom learning journeys. For example, it became clear that one of the most critical topics in need of custom learning journeys revolved around Black Knight's Agile transformation efforts. Likewise, we uncovered several technology gaps, such as the need for more full-stack developer programs.

Sample itineraries

Over the course of the next year, our team built 111 journeys on specific technology needs; product training, such as journeys on SQL programming and Microsoft Azure; and general leadership and business skills.

We carefully considered the types of resources, using best-in-practice instructional design strategies and adult learning principles. And we used a variety of materials, technologies, and modalities.

We offered microlearning options that learners could easily access, combined with longer learning experiences when topics required deeper expertise. That formula seems to be working—learners have ranked their personal satisfaction with the custom learning journeys as a 4.5 on a five-point scale.

More importantly, the journeys give staff a clear starting point and exercises for on-the-job application to put what they've learned into practice. Journeys help connect learning and career development goals with curated, role-based, and skill-based learning paths that prepare workers for the high-demand roles needed for today and tomorrow.

Consider the New Hire Journey. We know from research that a new hire's decision to stay with a company occurs within their first 90 days, so we designed 12 tracks, with one track per week for the first 90 days.

We chunked all the new-hire content into bite-size pieces and placed them under the specific week where they would be most relevant. Each track starts with a one-minute introductory video to gain learners' attention and provide relevance about what they will be learning that week.

And each track ends with a one-minute recap video and quick self-check assessment, ensuring employees are set to move into the next week.

Employees complete one track each week for an easy pace of asynchronous learning. However, new hires can choose to complete a track week by week or jump ahead and complete future tracks if they feel they are ready. They always have access to go back to the content too.

While managers have the capability to assign journeys to their employees, the New Hire Journey is the only one assigned to staff at the enterprise level. In 2021, we assigned this journey to 432 new hires.

Most recently, we created an Advancing Your Career Journey to help employees with their career growth at Black Knight. In collaboration with the HR business partners, our team designed five milestones (tracks) for a career:

  • Identifying their career aspirations
  • Building their Black Knight brand and network
  • Setting a development plan to excel in their roles
  • Preparing for internal interviews
  • Managing their career

Each milestone builds on the previous one and provides a foundation for the next track so that employees can learn how to build their careers at the company. Learners can access short videos, career conversation guides, and links to various e-learning programs and online events held through our corporate university.

Our team custom made the short videos to gain employees' attention, provide context for what is in the milestone, and give them contact information for HR when they need more support.

We chose the assets for the Advancing Your Career Journey with input from the HR business partners team. The goal was to ensure content would direct staff to the internal resources to help them advance their careers.

Business impact

In building custom learning journeys, our team not only sought to make sure staff had the critical technical skills they needed to perform their jobs at the highest levels; we also wanted to build their professional confidence and engage them through learning.

While it was important to support business objectives, we likewise wanted to help employees make an impact in their roles and grow their careers with Black Knight.

We believe that's exactly what we're achieving. Analytics reveal that 91 percent of employees have accessed valuable resources among the various custom learning journeys. That is one of the highest learning participation rates in our industry. 

Since launching the initiative, employees have spent more than 53,000 hours participating in one or more journeys. Last year, 955 employees accessed the custom journeys, and 288 unique users fully completed 319 custom journeys.

After the New Hire Journey launched, Black Knight retained 95 percent of new hires. What's more, we have seen the internal career mobility rate reach 70 percent.

Among employees who participated in the Advancing Your Career Journey and the dozens of technical journeys, there were more than 900 promotions, retention assignments, and career transfers in 2021. That figure represents one-quarter of the company's US employees.

Ultimately, the benefit-to-cost ratio shows an $18 return for every dollar we have invested in our offerings available through the LMS, which houses the custom learning journeys.

It's clear that when employees have easy access to knowledge and skill development resources, they are more engaged. As Black Knight continues to innovate in the mortgage and finance industry, the learning and leadership development team will work diligently to develop employees, empowering them to learn and grow.

Read more from CTDO magazine: Essential talent development content for C-suite leaders.

About the Author

Christina R. Treadway is the director of learning and leadership development for Black Knight. She is responsible for enterprise learning and leadership development solutions and programs. Christina’s professional career spans over 20 years, where she has held leadership positions in the financial, manufacturing, and retail industries. She holds a Master of Science in industrial and organizational psychology and a doctorate in organization management. Contact her at christina.treadway@bkfs.com.

About the Author

Elsa Collins is an instructional designer at Black Knight. She is responsible for developing and designing all custom learning materials and e-learning modules and facilitating virtual instructor-led development training for employees and managers. Elsa brings 10 years of instructional design experience to her role. Elsa is a graduate of Florida State University, where she earned her bachelor’s in social work and master’s in instructional systems design, and the University of North Florida, where she earned her master’s in business management. Contact her at elsa.collins@bkfs.com.

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