The secret recipe for true learning culture transformation
Cassie Gasson Chief Marketing Officer
| 5 min read
With high staff turnover and a bulk of time-pressed, frontline colleagues, carving out an effective learning & communications strategy in retail can be tricky, unless you know how.
Cassie Gasson Chief Marketing Officer
The frontline workforce is the foundation of successful retail businesses. And the need for rapid and effective onboarding, essential compliance training, product knowledge and wide-reaching, ever-changing customer service skills has created the perfect storm.
There’s little doubt that a great learning and communications strategy is critical, but the road is far from smooth for L&D teams. Frontline employees can be hard to reach, even through digital means, and with the focus on meeting customer needs and ‘doing the do’, how can L&D pros ensure their strategies are hitting the mark and achieving the engagement and collaboration they’re designed for?
In a recent virtual session and live Q&A, THRIVE’s Shannon Malone was joined by Kristina Tsiriotakis, Senior Director of Organisational L&D at DECIEM, to glean her advice for retailers and find out what ‘great’ looks like when it comes to the learning strategy for the beauty brand.
To overcome those previously mentioned barriers to learning in retail and quickly equip employees with the decision-making, problem-solving, product knowledge and emotional intelligence skills they need in their roles, creating an inclusive learning experience that ‘meets the learner’ is key for Kristina.
Before THRIVE, DECIEM’s learning culture was heavily reliant on face-to-face training, with communications delivered via email. But, with more than 1,000 employees, 50 products and 42 stores in 15 markets, the practical limitations were quickly apparent, even before the pandemic. What did this look like? Less than ideal engagement, glaring communication gaps, and different teams and departments working in silo instead of collaborating.
And now? By adopting a connection-led L&D strategy, DECIEM leverages the THRIVE Learning & Skills platform to build and deliver learning campaigns, notifications and personalised recommendations to engage their learners in the flow of work. What’s more, relevant and timely content can be accessed on the go through the THRIVE mobile app, so learning becomes part of the role and not something the employee has to pick up in their own time.
“DECIEM is education-first in our DNA,” Kristina told us. “We deliver transparent, honest education around our products to our customers, and a lot of our team members are attracted to DECIEM because of that.”
With 50+ products in The Ordinary range, DECIEM’s employees have a lot of information to absorb about each one and which products are best suited to their customer’s individual needs. This learning is accessible and scalable to meet the needs of DECIEM’s global teams, and knowledge sharing is not only enabled, but actively encouraged. As Director of L&D, Kristina sees it as her role to highlight the experiences that DECIEM’s people need on the job, so she can then use the THRIVE platform to build them into pathways and continuous learning journeys.
“The highest form of learning is teaching,” Kristina said, “When team members get inspired to create user-generated content, we love that. Peers get to learn from each other, people can interpret and trade information, and creativity comes through in a wide variety of formats, including cheat sheets, video content and TikToks.”
In retail, there’s often a feeling of a disconnect between locations and teams. User-generated content (UGC) is driven by a desire to collaborate, so it's one of the most effective ways to overcome that gap. Learners can start to share answers and advice with each other in authentic ways, creating and strengthening relationships and introducing a culture of connection, belonging and social learning.
DECIEM encourages UGC in their learning pathways, and Kristina uses the ‘Slowvember’ campaign to demonstrate. For the entire month, as a way of boycotting the mass consumerism of Black Friday, the company is offering free shipping and 23% off The Ordinary range, with 1% of global sales going to climate justice solutions. On THRIVE, DECIEM’s employees are sharing their tips and interacting with each other to discuss living in a slower, more sustainable, more mindful way.
Senior buy-in and engagement are key here too. Nicola Kilner, DECIEM’s Co-Founder & CEO, champions the platform and uses it a lot to share company updates and comms, setting an example for her colleagues and encouraging them to get involved and share their own content.
And guess what? It’s working. Since launching in 2019, over 50% of the content on DECIEM’s Learning & Skills Platform has come from the learners themselves, driven by their retail teams.
Kristina’s ambition was always to create “one, global room” - an inclusive, digital learning experience that knows no geographical bounds and offers value and learning opportunities to every DECIEM employee.
“THRIVE is the vehicle, but we’ve got to put gas in it”, she said. “How can we keep it fresh? How can we surprise and delight people? How do we entice learners to come back? It’s about applying a marketing mindset.”
To understand your audience’s motivations and pain points, and ultimately provide the solutions, continuous feedback is key. Kristina and the DECIEM team use regular online surveys, regional in-person visits and phone call spot checks with different store teams to continually monitor attitudes to the learning experience and show everyone that their opinions matter.
“You need a listening strategy. Listening and learning go hand in hand,” Kristina said. “Listen to internal comms. Make time for feedback and create a safe space for it. Let your people know that you want to get even better.”
Whether it’s a new product launch, a DE&I campaign or a performance review, it’s all enabled through THRIVE to maintain constant engagement. This data can then be tracked, along with feedback, to make sure you’re continuously improving your offering.
As a result, DECIEM has achieved a whopping 95% engagement and an average of 83 minutes per week spent on self-directed learning. Employees say they love the opportunities for growth and access to knowledge at the company in internal surveys, and with the data to prove it, Kristina has worked with the wider people team to build and talk about learning as an employee value proposition.
Kristina also recommends embedding learning goals within your overall performance management strategy to keep them front of mind. And, since launching THRIVE, she’s evaluated and tweaked DECIEM’s business goals, team goals and individual goals to make sure there’s a clear correlation and connection between the three.
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Cassie Gasson Chief Marketing Officer