Mobile Training: An Interview with Tom Heetderks, VP Human Resources/Talent Management, ResCare


Tom Heetderks

VP Human Resources/Talent Management


Tell us about you.
TH:As the VP Human Resources/Talent Management at ResCare, I have responsibility have responsibility for the company’s system-wide talent acquisition, leadership development, performance management, succession planning, HR information systems, benefit administration systems, and corporate training systems.
Prior to ResCare, I was Vice President, Executive Sponsor with Kenexa/IBM where I was the lead consultant on strategic talent initiatives for several Fortune 100 companies. I was also a Human Resources executive with PepsiCo/Yum! Brands for 15 years and at the Kellogg Company, I led the W.K. Kellogg Leadership Academy responsible for global executive/leadership development, global learning and development. I have an MA and PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
Describe ResCare.
TH: Founded in 1974 and headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, ResCare is the nation’s largest private provider of services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; the largest one-stop workforce contractor and the largest privately-owned home care company. ResCare offers residential and support services, education, vocational training and job placement for people of all ages and skill levels. ResCare Residential Services focuses on people with disabilities and youth with special needs. ResCare HomeCare helps seniors who want to age in place. ResCare Workforce Services and ResCare Education and Training Services provide counseling, training and job placement to people of all ages with barriers to employment. Our mission is to assist people to reach their highest level of independence.
Describe your customers.
TH: At the center of ResCare’s culture is the person who receives our services. Whether we’re sitting across the desk from a single mom who needs a job or helping a man with dementia stay in his own familiar surroundings or working with a vet who’s suffered a brain injury so he can return home to loved ones or teaching a person with developmental disabilities to brush her teeth for the first time – that person, that individual is the center of our company’s focus. And that employee, who is face-to-face with each of the nearly two million people we serve each year, is critical to our success and to each client’s success.
How many employees are in your organization?
TH: Today, ResCare has nearly 50,000 employees in 43 states, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Please describe your business challenge.
TH: ResCare is a one-of-a-kind human services company where people can find their place helping people from every walk of life reach their highest level of independence. Our employees work in thousands of locations serving the diverse needs of over 60,000 people every single day and over a million people every year. Each day, our employees can be seen assisting others in schools, homes, medical centers, community offices and corporate buildings. Every day we help transform peoples’ lives and their communities.
Our clear business challenge is to ensure that each employee is providing excellent human services that enhance the lives of individuals – many of the people we serve are very vulnerable. Most of the employees rarely come into a central office. Their job sites are the homes of the people theyserve. Ensuring they have up-to-date training is a priority. As a team, we refuse to spin our wheels pursuing incremental training improvements. We can’t afford to! We’re pushing hard for agile, step-change training solutions that will last.
What are the ingredients to a successful approach?
TH: Here are our "must have’s" to our successful training approach at ResCare:
• Has full buy in and support from leadership
• Grounded in our ever-evolving business
• Meets all regulatory requirements
• Ease and convenience including point-of-need
• Standardized
• Continues to be cutting edge
• Assesses competency and is evidence based
• Readily tracked and reported
• Leverages our values and the emotional aspects of our mission
• Ahead of our competition
• Location specific based on customer need
Do you have any unique challenges to being successful?
TH: We have a very diverse and distributed workforce across five unique lines of business. ResCare is also a highly regulated business; most of our revenue comes from state, local and federal funding accompanied by stringent regulatory requirements.
As a successful Human Resources executive, what challenge would you have for someone earlier on in their career?
TH: It seems obvious but training must be grounded in the business. Your approach must be core to how the organization gets things done. If it’s not, get rid of it!
For someone early in his or her career, I’d emphasize that bite-sized learning offered up in a way that aligns with learning style is a big idea whether you’re talking about 2kers, Tweenials, Gen X’ers or your parents.
How is mobile training a part of your strategy?
TH: At ResCare, mobile training is absolutely necessary given the de-centralized nature of our workforce. Of course, mobile goes beyond the device in a learner’s hand. A comprehensive approach stitches together the learning platform, each learning element, the learner interface, and all integrations. At ResCare, we want our learning content to be fully integrated with no links. All learning content must be tablet optimized and friendly.
We have a long way to go on this! Our vendors have a long way to go as well. In 2015, we expect that our training content will be available to all of our employees whether they’re using a PC, a company issued tablet or a kiosk.
How do you successfully bring others along with you?
TH: I think it’s really important to know the brutal facts and build a burning platform early to create a sense of urgency. When I’m with a senior operations leader, I always remember that every minute of training is time that could be spent doing other things. To bring others along and then keep them with you, training must add value and that value must be measurable.