Home Depot Says E-Learning is Paying for Itself

February 25, 2004
The shift from classroom training to electronic training is yielding dramatic results at Home Depot, according to Charles Gardner, e-learning director for the retail chain.

Gardner says that the "time to competency"--measuring how long it takes a cashier to get up to speed--has gone down from three days to two days. For Home Depot, which hires 60,000 cashiers each year, the cost savings from this time reduction has saved enough money to pay for the company’s entire e-learning program for all employees, Gardner says.

In addition to cashiering, Home Depot has developed courses that teach flooring, plumbing, truck operation and hardware. Gardner says that the company’s 30-person e-learning department can sometimes spend up to 800 hours of staff time developing an hour-long course, which can include audio and animated simulations of customers asking questions about drill bits. "You don’t want to skimp on the experience when you’re going to roll it out on our kind of scale," he says.

Home Depot tries to have each employee spend 6.1 hours each month on training. That training is critical to the company’s retention efforts, since the number-one reason employees leave is that they didn’t feel adequately prepared for the job. Gardner commented on Home Depot’s e-learning program at this week’s Marcus Evans Human Resources Summit in Maryland.