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E-learning: don't forget to support staff

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Companies should take care to properly support employees when embracing e-learning initiatives, development consultant at Mothercare Jo Brosnan told HR magazine.

She reported that the roll-out of Mothercare’s new ‘Staying Safe at Work’ e-training, scheduled for July, is being supported by area and sales managers who are trained as digital champions.

“I think a lot of people forget to do that,” said Brosnan. “Head office use computers every day and so we sometimes forget that other people don’t. Luckily we’ve all worked in retail environments so we know what sorts of teams are out there.”

Brosnan explained that the Mothercare team consists of a diverse range of people, spanning from those aged 17 to those who’ve worked at the company for 40 years. She reported witnessing in previous roles people not knowing how to turn tablets on, explaining that this is why digital champions are so crucial.

“I think the L&D team here, which is a small team, would end up out on the road quite a lot, if we hadn’t appointed digital champions,” said Brosnan.

Mothercare is also launching an internal awareness campaign to alert staff to the new training and generate interest, using the illustrated characters featured in the bespoke module. Mothercare’s first foray into e-learning also includes quizzes and interactive exercises. 

Brosnan says Mothercare plans to role this gamification approach to other training modules, starting with compliance training such as social media policy and email policy.

“This is so much more engaging than looking at a poster or book and from what we’ve seen so far the learning seems to be staying in a lot more,” said Brosnan. “We’re going to carry the illustrated characters through to other modules.”

She added: “E-learning can be better than an in-person presentation even, because with that you’re relying on the strength of the presenter and some people will inevitably not be as good as others.”

Modernising its approach to health and safety training will also streamline administration, said Brosnan. “Before, training was completely paper-based with people signing to say they’d undergone the training and being checked during compliance visits every six months. Those visits still need to happen from a compliance point of view, but from the store’s point of view this will save a lot of time.”

“And before, how much had been learnt and whether everyone had definitely undergone the training was very difficult to gauge. There was no way of measuring the success of training. Now we can ensure all learners have logged on and completed the module.”

‘Staying Safe at Work’ has been created for Mothercare by e-learning specialist Sponge UK and will be rolled out to all 5,000 of Mothercare’s staff. The module focuses on three areas: fire safety, preventing accidents and dealing with threats and hoaxes.