How Fortune 100 Companies Focus on Learning

learning analysisOne of our Brandon Hall Group members recently asked a question about the learning practices of the Fortune 100. My first instinct was to peruse case studies from BHG’s global Excellence in Learning Awards program to see what sort of data I could pull. I certainly didn’t come away empty-handed.

In case you’re not familiar, the Brandon Hall Group HCM Excellence Awards recognize the best organizations that have successfully deployed programs, strategies, modalities, processes, technologies, and tools that have achieved measurable business results in all areas of human capital management. However, my analysis only focused on learning programs submitted by companies in the current Fortune 100 list.

I cross-referenced a list of learning winners dating back to 2010 with the top 100 companies on the current Fortune 500 list. Here is the quick snapshot by the numbers:

  • The collective Fortune 500 companies earn $12.5 trillion in revenues and employ nearly 27 million people worldwide.
  • Of the 100 largest companies on the Fortune 500 list, 39 of them are previous Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Learning award winners.
  • Those winners have gathered an impressive 70+ awards in the past five years of the Excellence in Learning Awards.

The details are even more interesting:

  • Training modalities. While in-person, instructor-led training is still widely used, our 2015 training research shows other modalities gaining steam. This is especially true for Fortune 100 organizations, as more than 25% of the awards they have earned since 2010 were for video, mobile, social and blended learning programs.

    As more companies follow the footsteps of Boeing, IBM, and other winners and continue to adopt these training methods, I would expect to see more competition and innovation in these categories over time.

  • Custom content. One of our most competitive categories each year is custom content. Dozens of companies vie for awards, and we see some truly amazing work. 13% of the awards earned by companies in this group have been for custom content training programs.

    Notable winners from the Fortune 100 include Procter & Gamble, Comcast, Intel, and Caterpillar. It’s hard to plot a trend among the winners here, because that group includes everything from airlines to healthcare organizations to technology firms and more. One takeaway would be that it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in—there’s always a practical application for good custom training content.

  • Traditional Topics Still Matter. Our recent training research respondents indicated that they are going to be delivering more training in the coming year. 33% of organizations are planning to offer more compliance-focused content, 40% are focusing on technical skills development, and 37% are increasing support for individual competency training.

    This relates to the competition here as well, because despite the wins in the aforementioned categories, some of the most common awards among the group are for core learning initiatives, including best certification program (Hewlett-Packard), best competencies and skill development (Chevron), best compliance training (American Express), and best learning strategy (Sears). In the end, it all comes back to doing these functions well.

In all, this was an intriguing look at some of the trends for Fortune 100 companies in our awards program. Were there any surprises for you? Would you expect these larger organizations to be early adopters of innovation, or more focused on traditional training topics and delivery methods? Why?

Ben Eubanks, Learning Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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