Custom Learning for Online Retail Organization
How microlearning solved COVID-19 training challenges and set the stage for future growth
Providing new skills to employees can help to reduce employee turnover by supporting personal and professional career development. It can also reduce the expense associated with recruiting, hiring, and training new employees with specific skill sets. These skills drive efficiency by helping teams to better collaborate in finding innovative solutions for workplace problems.
A global leader in online retail and delivery, the company has a renowned reputation for being proficient at providing speedy and reliable delivery and customer-obsessed service.
To maintain that level of customer service, there is an enormous amount of planning and scheduling required. Warehouse managers at fulfillment centers are tasked with maintaining tight schedules with increasing service demands, while also managing warehouse employees to ensure they understand their critical roles in keeping operations running smoothly.
With the influx of demand in e-commerce and at-home shopping due to COVID-19, the company needed to upskill frontline managers to lead more effectively and efficiently.
The organization needed to build trust in order to work together and collaborate successfully.
Additionally, the company wanted to extend its previously introduced change management strategy to support its core values of collaboration and communication. They sought to prevent siloing and allow employees to stretch their professionalism to become career-minded, instead of just job- or role-minded.
COVID-19 restrictions impeded effective in-person training delivery. In addition, training needed to fit into the tight schedules of managers so that it didn’t interfere with their work. The company tasked its L&D team to address the need for rapidly delivering an upskilling program in just six weeks. They were asked to:
- Create an eLearning refresher module for their current and new instructors for an internal program that had been created and embedded within certain organizations within the company.
- Develop an eLearning and support strategy that would work in a new COVID-19 environment—changing a current instructor-led program into a virtual-led program.
- Incorporate an opportunity to collect feedback from current instructors on the program and areas of opportunity for additional support in the changing environment.
- Embed an ongoing support strategy into their change management plan.
- Create something that could be used globally for workers in a fast-paced environment, where English was typically a second language, and where the workers were struggling to identify how the behavior changes would genuinely impact them on a day-to-day basis in the warehouse.
Strategy & Solution
Working with ELB Learning, the company’s L&D team was able to leverage ELB’s rapid solutioning model and accelerate the process. Together, we created eLearning modules using Storyline, packaged to be delivered via the company’s existing learning management system. It included the key areas previously identified as critical content by the company, the desired survey tool, and a knowledge check.
- Twelve animated microlearning modules were developed that focused on reviewing critical behaviors, what that behavior looked like in practice, a scenario showcasing the desired behavior in practice, and a call to action to encourage employees to practice the same.
- The project team had representation from global functional areas who were already utilizing the training program within their functional unit. Everyone had the opportunity to discuss, ideate, review, and provide feedback on the solutions implemented.
- Collaboration was key to ensure that the situations and scenarios on which the modules were built were realistic for the learners’ on-the-job environment.
Why microlearning? A main design driver was the need to address COVID-19-related closures, which required the program to be led virtually instead of ILT.
- Learners for this program were warehouse employees who had limited time to complete training and often had English as a second language. The new program would need to keep the microlearning modules approachable and accessible for learners and ensure they “fit” into the environment they worked in, day-to-day. This meant that delivery modes needed to be flexible, such as accessing modules on the LMS, delivered via email or shown on various screens in fulfillment centers.
- Warehouse workers were encouraged to share with their managers their understanding of the training material and detail how they could demonstrate behavior on the job. Managers would be able to witness the application of learning, observe behavior shifts, and provide feedback to employees including a follow-up review of key learnings.
- The company’s L&D team understands that behavior-based change is often challenging because if the learner does not apply the new skills/knowledge back on the job immediately, the likelihood of lasting behavior change is greatly diminished. This is especially true in a fast-paced environment. The L&D team needed to reach learners who might not see the immediate “why” behind the training/behavior change, complicated by COVID-related issues
The company now has a scalable, flexible learning solution that can be distributed across multiple locations, languages, and organizations within the business. A key benefit to this new program is that it maintains continuity of learning while also improving the learning experience during COVID-19 travel and work restrictions. Furthermore, the program is perfectly suited to be an addition to the onboarding process and can accommodate the massive growth in hiring that the company is expecting over the coming years.
The company has realized a reduction in expenses due to:
- Reduced travel and accommodation
- Reduced time away from work to attend training sessions
- Reduced risk to health by maintaining physical distancing rules
With a development solution in place, the company can easily scale up the program across the world to global fulfillment centers, and continue to iterate on deliverables to keep the program fresh and relevant for years to come.
Further, while the company already demonstrates the gold standard for ensuring customers the accurate and timely delivery of products they’ve ordered, the program has:
- Reduced the margin of error and costs related to remedying any fulfillment mistakes
- Built employee capabilities and confidence, investing individuals even deeper in their career potential and professional pride
- Improved how well and expeditiously functional areas communicate, problem solve, and interact with one another, rather than operating as silos concerned only with their respective tasks
- Created more agility and a more productive, seamless interdependence among workforces at each fulfillment center
- Prepared managers and warehouse workers alike to meet any challenge
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