Vodafone Way of Care: embedded learning for a global workforce

How does a global organisation inspire new learning workplace habits for 80,000 busy staff? How can a company replicate classroom or online content for Millennial employees in high-pressure situations?  

That was the challenge for Vodafone’s learning and development (L&D) team, which needed to reinforce its 90-day ‘Way of Care’ customer excellence programme learning modules for 20 regions, including outsourced partners and franchisees worldwide.

Reaching a busy audience

Claire Barron, Customer Experience Academy Manager at Vodafone, appreciates the shift required: “We wanted to embed learning assets in workplaces and motivate frontline staff to keep returning to them, even if it can sometimes be difficult to reach employees on the go.”

With around 36,000 staff having received Way of Care training, Claire also knew the limitations of classroom-style instruction: “Every manager knows the 70:20:10 training outcomes research, she says. “‘Traditional’ learning is regarded as low-return and costly. We needed 18-25-year-olds to upskill in quiet times and reflect more on their role in the business.”

To address these challenges, Claire and her team enlisted Scott Bamford, technical director at Ambidect, a global innovator in learning and development platforms for business, to scope a Way of Care e-learning app.

Claire acknowledges the pressures when commissioning an app: “Whether you’re in a call centre in India or one of our Portugese stores, learning content is like any other app,″ she says. “If it fails, no-one looks at it again.”

Working alongside Vodafone’s L&D team, Scott designed the learning app with user flexibility and commonality of content – delivered on Ambidect’s Learn with Mobile software, for added value learning.

“Enterprises worry about content creativity when targeting Millennial staff but the key is delivering existing video or other assets to an individual employee’s point of use, more efficiently,” Scott explains. “We identified ways to increase the content’s appeal across call centres or retail environments. Vodafone could then gamify its learning assets, promoting a fun-based and competitive learning culture.”

Vodafone and Ambidect used workshop approaches for development. They involved retail, call centre and partner personnel – alongside L&D and local management stakeholders – to identify user needs and constraints. Product iterations were followed by exhaustive user acceptance testing by the multi-discipline VIP team. The first Way of Care prototype app was launched internally for final approval before selective country roll-out.

Dynamic learning in the workplace

Vodafone’s L&D team can now push structured learning materials through a dedicated Way of Care

app that sits on its corporate and partner networks. Accessible content – explainer videos, best practice PDFs and short games – is encouraging flexible learning and peer-group competition for knowledge, even in busy and pressurised workplaces.

Claire is delighted by the content options for employees world-wide: “Front line personnel now have something in their pocket that enhances what’s they’re doing.”

She is also gamifying classroom lessons – through an animated version of Running Man, a 21st century take on Space Invaders, and interactive ‘matching’ exercises. “In matching, users identify the personality traits of heroes such as Steve Jobs,” Claire explains. “They are rewarded with an inspirational ‘Jobs quote’ when they do.”

Ambidect’s collaborative development has delivered a simple app in less-than-obvious ways: “Making self-registration easy for local administrators was another big breakthrough,” says Claire. “Local admin teams aren’t bogged down in front-line user queries now.”

The Way of Care app is mid-way through a global roll-out, with territories receiving their own localised content assets.

Claire says the new app’s popularity vindicates the focus on accessible content: “We’ve had very positive uptake from frontline teams. The response from India, in particular, was amazing. Our management is keen to use it more widely – they’ve seen we can get content to everyone in the front-line now.”

The programme is also extending that content’s life. As Scott at Ambidect comments: “We never challenged Vodafone’s gamification strategy but we are making assets more readily available.  This wider adoption – in effect, small-scale behavioural change – will trigger better workforce learning. Across 80,000 people, that’s a huge impact.”

The Way of Care app’s design enables country managers, regional teams and franchisees to analyse and adjust content options. Claire explains: “After full roll-out, we will evaluate data across all front-line operations and work out what teams need to take on board.”

The L&D team is seeing improvements in trickier areas. “Supervisors say the app helps front-line teams refine their soft skills, like receiving feedback or keeping a positive mindset,” Claire comments. “We now have sustainable learning for our Way of Care programme. The figures show staff coming back to content assets; learning is becoming part of what they do each day.”

‘Good learning’ means behavioural change

Benefits from the Way of Care app’s e-learning assets have been felt worldwide, as the core messages and behaviours from the learning have been integrated into both the front line of the company and its overall culture of service delivery.

It seems that while a traditional learning management system (LMS) can provide management reporting data on learning completions, it sometimes fails to follow up on, or measure, cultural change. A legacy LMS can’t really be the focus for a company helping individuals to adopt taught behaviours in their daily activities. That’s why the Way of Care e-learning approach now being phased in has been so much more successful than simply shoe-horning learning assets into what’s already there.

Ambidect’s managing director Tim Thomas-Peter believes that useful conclusions can now be drawn from the e-learning programme: “Corporate LMSs tend to measure the teaching that’s been done. What companies with extended workforces really need to know these days, however, is the change or the level of improvement achieved. Teaching doesn’t necessarily result in learning, so the amount of teaching isn’t always the same as the amount of learning.

“We’ve seen that good learning results in behavioural change, and behavioural change really needs embedding across a department, or function, or a wider workforce. Once that happens, you can invest in the truly engaged individuals that will help propagate that change throughout the organisation to boost service or skills as the organisation requires,” he says.

 

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