Performance-based Training Helps Online Lender Reduce Employee Turnover


Employee turnover is an ongoing challenge for organisations in the lending industry. One major online lender hires between 150-200 employees per month. Why do employees leave? In order to understand that better, the company undertook a training needs analysis and found that 75-80 percent of all the people who left did so in their first year. In response, the company expanded its already broad-based training initiative beyond the initial training period for those working in its banking division.

New Hires Tested Regularly

When bankers – those who make the lending decisions – are hired they start two weeks of mortgage training in the classroom. This is followed by a week each of sales and technical training. To ensure success during this period, the company administers weekly high stakes assessments to all students and follows them with a make-or-break final that students must pass to begin work. 

Initially the company used paper and pencil tests but quickly discovered that the volume of students alone required something much less labor intensive and that would provide much faster results. After evaluating several other programmes, the company selected Questionmark for all its assessments, which include six to 12 tests to more than 150 new hires during initial training programmes alone.

Improving the Success Rate

A key problem the lender faced was that too many mortgages were failing to close because the client’s income was incorrectly calculated during the initial application process. Seeing this as a sign that bankers needed to be better trained on calculating clients’ income, trainers used Questionmark to deliver an assessment to a random sampling of bankers. The test results revealed exactly where the knowledge gaps were.

To meet these needs and combat first-year attrition as well, the company now provides a customised ongoing training course that only covers those topics with which each banker has difficulty. Each individual’s course is determined on the basis of his or her initial Questionmark assessment. The course begins immediately after the initial training period and runs through the entire first year of employment. Students can select a leadership track if they hope to attain a leadership position in the company or a performance track if they hope to attain senior-level status and eventually work from home.

Using Macromedia to Help Deliver Technology-Driven Questions

In addition to the regular testing of students during the course, trainers also use Questionmark to help students practice what they’re learning. In the ongoing training class students complete story-based questions for this purpose. Using both Macromedia Flash and Macromedia Captivate to create them, Questionmark presents real-life scenarios and then asks each learner a number of questions based upon that information. What trainers found particularly helpful is that Questionmark takes information from both Macromedia applications and directly reports it for grading. They can create a Flash presentation, for example, and then when students do certain things in Flash – click on hot spots or perform other tasks – it then migrates the results of what they did back to Questionmark. So it is possible to grade and store score information for these modules in the database with all of the employees’ other test results.

Training Evaluations

The company also uses Questionmark for trainer evaluations: simple six-question surveys. Results of these surveys are automatically put into a report that ranks each trainer by score for each training programme. The training department sends out post-curriculum evaluations to students and team leaders to see where the training could be improved. This starts the whole cycle again at needs analysis, thus creating a training programme that constantly improves.

Why Questionmark?

The company selected Questionmark because of its feature set, which includes ranged grading, by which a range of answers to a particular question are graded as “correct.” For example, students are asked to calculate mortgage payments based upon a set of assumptions. The answer might be £376.83 but ranged grading allows the company to accept anything between £376 and £380 (to account for rounding). Another salient feature is the ability to format questions using HTM L.

Finally, service was and remains a top priority. The company had a hard time getting in touch with other vendors and realised that would be indicative of what that would be like after a purchase. Question mark was and is very attentive to the company’s needs. In contrast, the quality of Questionmark’s service was very high during the selection process and has remained so.