Learning & Development: Driving Excellence at eXPD8

eXPD8’s ‘Put People First’ strategic pillar takes many forms, but none are quite so visible and far ranging as our approach to Learning and Development (L&D). From Central Office to the Field, it’s an area that requires constant collaboration, effective communication, and agile methodology, as the requirements of our clients and the retail environments in which our colleagues operate can change dynamically.

Driven by eDUK8, our learning management system, L&D at eXPD8 is powered by technology and delivered at scale yet tailored to the needs of our people. The output? Excellence for all involved, both in terms of our colleagues’ own knowledge and retail support service executions, but also our compliance standards and ultimately the bottom line for the brands we represent.

eDUK8 sits at the heart of our L&D system, allowing for high-quality personal and professional development

Developing a Best-In-Class L&D Process

In 2019 the L&D team were mainly focused on inductions. Over the last two years, that has changed considerably, as the department established itself as a business partnering function. This team development has been born of necessity – eXPD8 have gone from having 6 modules on eDUK8 to over 220. Whereas as in 2019, we distributed approximately 400 pieces of content, last year (2021) saw us scaling to 44,000 – an 11,000% increase which required much more robust processes.

Throughout 2021, our approach to L&D evolved to a push-and-pull mentality – pushing out training to develop core and specialist skills whilst the release of the eDUK8 Toolkit allowed trainees to ‘pull’ and access our entire e-Learning catalogue. With the increase in distributed content, it’s apparent that colleagues are using the platform not just for job-specific training but for their own personal development too – that’s a real hallmark of change.

Ultimately, it’s about relationship-building. Rather than taking a didactic approach, where the Central Office team determine the direction of learning, today it’s a dialogue – the L&D model at eXPD8 is constantly evolving though an iterative feedback loop which considers everything required by our Field team, on a near real-time basis. Advancements in e-learning and the ability to feedback on those experiences means the system essentially self-optimises.

Users have a tailored experience, based on their needs and the real-time needs of the business

It’s powerful stuff and really demonstrates the strength of people and technology working in harmony, a strategy at the heart of our business.

A Dedicated Team to Drive Results

Having a dedicated L&D team to work with the operational side really helps eXPD8 to understand what is it that people want to get out of their training. And what did we find? That the 70:20:10 model is the right approach, where colleagues in the main enjoy working heuristically; they derive much of their development via work-related experiences with interpersonal relationships and formal, structured learning providing the support they need to thrive.

Because L&D is not a tick box exercise and the L&D team recognise that. Some individuals and tasks lend themselves to micro-learning; short, sharp messages that are as quick and efficient as possible. Others prefer a longer, narrative based approach with extended resources that allow them to contextualise problems and solutions to their fullest. It’s all about the individual and having end-to-end visibility on that experience which, in practice, is what drives results.

And of course, learners are themselves varied. Two people might like to use video as an instrument to learn, but how to design that asset for someone who doesn’t use English as a first language, to someone who has a PhD in the subject will inevitably vary – so, having a dedicated L&D team also means that we can implement best-practice for a range of individuals, regardless of background.

The system is tailored to a wide range of users, including those who sit on eXPD8’s Leadership Team

Driving Engagement Through Video

Once you find something that works and engages colleagues, eXPD8 takes that insight and fine tunes it to drive performance – making sure everyone knows how to find what they need, when they need it and when they do, can engage with it effectively. Video has been instrumental in this. By collaborating with the Marketing and Communications team, who assist with creating assets, our L&D Manager, Hayley Perry, is then able to create customised training modules.

The benefit of video is that you can see how people engage with an interactive asset – pauses, drop off rates – all of that contributes to data that can be analysed and then the intelligence applied to the next asset, to make it even more engaging.

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Video delivery has been instrumental in developing a best-in-class L&D platform

More on the Tailored Approach

Videos are great at driving engagement, but as mentioned L&D caters learners through other avenues too; by text, animation, static imagery, infographics, live seminars and more, so everyone can learn how they want to learn. And from there, the feedback surveys kick in – did people find it engaging? Is it useful? Was it at the right level and speed? How can we improve? Through this process, clients can adapt quickly, especially important for more specialist training.

For the business, this means we can build custom teams for different areas, both at a category and geographical level. eXPD8 beauty has been at the forefront of this development, but this extends to policy changes (as seen with the forthcoming HFSS legislation in October) and our increasing penetration into the finance space through clients like Tesco Bank – a major undertaking which has required significant investment into L&D for those colleagues.

Guidance is bespoke, according to specific retail categories – perfect for driving service excellence, first time… every time

The Opportunity to Progress

Whereas historically, onboarding and induction was seen more as a one-and-done process, today it’s the start of an ongoing journey. People’s priorities, circumstances and ambitions are constantly changing. Certainly, COVID-19 has accelerated that fact. The L&D team at eXPD8 cater to that desire to speed up or slow down, and transition, regardless of direction. This allows people to gain skills and feel supported rather than overwhelmed. This is especially important in the first moments of change, but also into the long-term as an individual progresses.

For some, L&D is about career development, and for others that won’t be the case. For instance, some District Representatives in the Beauty category will choose to complete their Level 3 training, so they are able to coach, mentor and support, building key skills to support progression opportunities. For others, the Beauty Learning Journeys provide an opportunity to build specialist skills. The flexibility of our training allows both to learn and develop how they choose.

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Beauty Display Merchandiser Jackie recently completed her specialist training

After all, retail is ripe with opportunities, and the capacity for career-development is substantial. L&D simply catalyses that journey; we are the enablers and the navigators for a wide range of individuals. We are the lantern and the compass.

Providing Tools and Harnessing the Talent

All our learning is deployed via eDUK8. Within the learning platform we host a variety of documents, e-learning modules, videos. One area that’s expanded significantly across 2021 and 2022 is webinar use i.e. the ability for trainees to interact directly with subject matter experts, which has been seen to be mission critical for certain teams, like eXPD8 beauty.

We’ve run similar trials for Batteries and gap scanning and mapping across Q4 2021. Being able to raise issues on the spot contributes to learners’ engagement in big way, especially if you’re working on a specialist project for a client – creating a feedback loop between merchandisers on the ground and central operations that begins before any activity takes place makes a huge difference in terms of delivery.

A secondary benefit is recordings – if it’s the case that not everyone can attend, you can share the recording at scale, including any questions that were raised, which means anyone consuming it after the event are able to benefit from that. In many ways, it’s an ideal way of delivering L&D, assuming it works for the learner. This technology has substantially increased cross-functional engagement, so as a business, we are no longer siloed within our own streams.

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Tablets are at the heart of our business, meaning our Field teams this one in Rotherham are able to easily access video content

Taking Pride in a Job Well Done

In eXPD8 beauty, we offer the incentives for developing specialised skills and demonstrating that between levels. The higher your level, the greater range of calls you can take on and the more you will be paid for certain types of calls. You’ll receive a badge on your lanyard, stating your specialism and colleagues feel the benefit of that recognition – having undertaken the training, they are then able to put those learnings into practice, and that creates a sense of pride.

And that’s important for the business, that our people take pride in their work, but also feel rewarded – whether that’s through career progression or through direct financial gain. It’s something that drives higher level of colleague retention, as people know it’s a collaborative business and we all share in that success.

Recognition and reward sit at the heart of a progressive L&D model

Get in Touch to Find out More

Our approach to L&D is at the forefront of our strategic pillars, and we’ll continue to push the envelope. Whether you’re a client seeking to engage with a progressive retail support services partner that puts its people first, or a potential colleague looking for an employer that does the same, get in touch via hello@expd8.co.uk or recruitmentteam@expd8.co.uk respectively. We’ve been at the forefront of the industry for the last 20 years, innovating across the board to ensure we deliver service excellence, first time… every time.