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Farmers Insurance: Committed to Learning
Farmers Insurance, Chief Learning Officer magazine’s No. 7 ranked LearningElite company for 2012, has built a sustainable learning infrastructure with adaptable development initiatives to harness learning for some 50,000 agents and employees.
Farmers Insurance’s commitment to learning is demonstrated by its advertising strategy focusing on its corporate university. The company’s LearningElite ranking advanced from No. 11 in 2011.
When searching for evidence of Farmers Insurance’s commitment to learning, look no further than its national advertising strategy: “We are Farmers. Bam pa rum pa rum pa rum,” the jingle goes. Many have seen the commercial, which touts the company’s learning organization, the University of Farmers.“When you talk about commitment to learning, it’s hard not to think about the senior executives being committed to learning when our national advertising strategy is the University of Farmers,” said Annette Thompson, senior vice president and chief learning officer at Farmers Insurance. Farmers’ commitment to learning has been clear since 2008, when the insurance brokerage created the CLO position and linked it with a reporting structure directly tied to its chief executive. Farmers executives are constantly participating in the university’s learning events, Thompson said.For instance, the company pays a 10-member outside board of regents to help align Farmers’ learning organization with its overall business strategy. Thompson also participates in the company’s board of governors meetings and is a member of the executive-level office of general management. Her office reports its learning results quarterly, adjusting the learning strategy to meet the varying needs of the business. “We tie business outcomes to our learning programs, and we’re very aligned with the business,” she said. “And when you look at [other] organizations, that’s somewhat of a rarity in our business.”
The primary element that drives Farmers’ ability to connect learning to the business strategy is its metrics. University of Farmers measures nearly 25 percent of its learning programs on a Level 4 model based on the Kirkpatrick scale of metrics. “Measurement has been part of our discipline since day one as a university,” said Art Dobrucki, University of Farmers director of learning strategy and performance. “Since the scope of the university has expanded, and we’ve integrated more learning units, the expectation and the practice of measuring across the Kirkpatrick framework is something that we’ve implemented deeply. No matter what learning unit we have in the learning organization, everybody is measuring deeply across the board from Level 1 to business outcomes. This allows us to internally demonstrate to our stakeholders the value that learning is bringing to the table.”
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