Hey, Did You Finish the Course?

International clothing retailer Grupo Cortefiel monitored employee e-learning in real time to boost training completion rates and create an atmosphere of mentoring and support.

Several companies are taking a new approach to training and completion rates, including Grupo Cortefiel, an apparel retailer that operates in 73 countries, with 2,000 store locations and an e-commerce business.

Ensuring training completion rates for stores staffed by more than 9,000 employees can be daunting, especially because each of the brands has an active online channel, design team and sales and management structure. The secret? Not just disseminating learning programs through easy-to-access quizzes and activities, but also tracking how employees use them.

Average training completion in retail in general hovers around 30 percent for associates whose individual engagement and results are not visible to employers. Some retailers broadcast key directives about in-store tasks, price changes, promotions and new product, but do not or cannot access whether employees receive them or their level of accountability for executing on the information.

Particularly in quickly moving industries, there is a perception that “what’s done is done,” and there is no time to analyze. This approach to training can be short-sighted because analyzing training completion rates can help companies to better steer future initiatives and therefore save time and money.

Diego Charola, Grupo Cortefiel’s human resources general manager, said the ability to monitor associate training at various levels including by country, region and store, and then view it side-by-side with store performance is an essential part of ensuring training program success.

“Specific key performance indicators are linked to all of our training software to help us evaluate the success or failure of the program,” Charola said. “In addition, we compare the training evaluation system with an audit of the sales point to give us the complete picture. The evaluations made so far have been extremely useful. They’ve helped us identify areas for improvement at a number of levels, from specific issues in the stores to general procedures.”

A retailer can create the best training programs in the world, but if the store associates never see that material, it will not impact business. Grupo Cortefiel uses system software to track associate training. IPad and tablet software tools are also available, making tracking part of the system but not specifically a managerial responsibility. The real-time data allows managers to:

  1. Boost training participation and account ability.
  2. Ensure associates follow directives such as tasks, price changes, etc.
  3. Measure where employees need improvement.
  4. Refine programs by regional, district and or at the store level.

Video, although not a new tool for training, has become digital and mobile with the increasing popularity of iPads and tablets. Quizzes or assessments initiated at the end of each learning module allow management to assess the effectiveness of the e-learning course, and offer learners the opportunity to gauge their progress and summarize the content they have learned.

These quizzes should be interactive, and include real-life problems that learners must solve using their newly acquired skills. Tests should be included that feature video questions. Point and click games that test knowledge at the end of a lesson prevent boredom and boost knowledge retention.

For Grupo Cortefiel, tracking through quizzes and mobile software tools not only impacts its existing employees’ knowledge but also helps with succession planning. The company is developing strategies to identify talent even among employees with part-time contracts, partly by noting which ones do exceptionally well in training. The company’s goal is to hold onto staff by offering an attractive career path.

Ultimately, well-trained employees who feel satisfied in their work will remain loyal to a company. The new generation of training and communication tools provide access to entertaining and educational information that is practically on-demand and which creates opportunities to meet professional goals, feel motivated, improve job performance and reach higher training completion rates.