‘It Was a No-Brainer.’ Why Softchoice Invested in LinkedIn Learning.
October 17, 2018
When Steve Marshall was hired as the Director of Culture and Growth at Softchoice in December of 2016, one of his main tasks was to make the Toronto-based IT services organization a “better place to work.”
So, he asked employees what that actually meant to them. Their response – they wanted to advance their career by developing new skills within the organization. But, at the time, that desire wasn’t being met.
“We were behind the times as an organization on the deployment of education and learning,” Marshall said.
The good news – the sales effectiveness team was already using a tool they loved: LinkedIn Learning. After vetting the platform, Marshall and his team expanded Softchoice’s investment and made it available to all employees at the company.
“It was a no-brainer,” Marshall said. “LinkedIn Learning is probably the most cost-effective way an organization could ever provide organizational-wide educational content. You’d have to be crazy to think that’s a solution you wouldn’t want as part of your education platform.”
Since LinkedIn Learning launched, the numbers speak for themselves. After 1,700 employees got access in February, 79% activated their account. And, in August alone, 34% of activated accounts used LinkedIn Learning – for an average of two hours each.
“When you have a really good product, word-of-mouth starts happening,” Marshall said. “Yes, our marketing played a big part in getting people into the product. But they keep coming back and new people keep signing up because the courses are really good.”
Why Softchoice Chose LinkedIn Learning: The Applicability, the Convenience and the Cost-Effectiveness
The sales effectiveness team started using LinkedIn Learning a year before all Softchoice employees had access. And they were impressed, as the platform was both convenient and effective.
“What I love about LinkedIn Learning is you can immediately apply what you learned,” Senior Sales Manager Carrie Millen said. “It’s real-life, not just theory but real anecdotes that our sales team can learn from and apply right away.”
“Plus, if you have two minutes, you can learn something in two minutes,” Millen said. “Or, if you want to spend some time and dive in for 45 minutes, you can do that too. It fits around your schedule.”
Millen shared her happiness with the platform with Marshall, who was shopping for one for the entire company. And everything Marshall found out about LinkedIn Learning independently confirmed what the sales effectiveness team told him.
“It’s a convenient, easy-to-use solution that fits around today’s busy schedule,” Marshall said. “And it’s cost-effective. It checks all the boxes you’d want in a learning solution.”
Softchoice’s 3-Stage Rollout of LinkedIn Learning
With LinkedIn Learning, Marshall had a learning platform he believed in. But, to get widespread adoption of it, he couldn’t just push it out himself. He needed it to be part of not just his talent development strategy – but the company’s overall strategy.
“It’s a village product,” Marshall said. “It’s owned and distributed by learning and development, but it has to be embraced and utilized by the entire organization.”
So, he phased out the launch of LinkedIn Learning in three stages, with each one focused on embedding into into another layer. They are:
Stage 1: For the first stage, Marshall announced to all employees they had access to LinkedIn Learning, promoted it around the office and recommended some general courses. But, it was mostly up to Softchoice employees to explore on their own and start developing their own learning plans. “I asked them to be courageous and use the platform,” Marshall said. “I told them, ‘You aren’t going to break the tool, don’t be afraid to use it’.”
Stage 2: Next, Marshall worked with department heads to tailor LinkedIn Learning to their individual strategies. For example, after speaking with Marshall, Softchoice Head of Innovation Craig McQueen began using LinkedIn Learning to train his team of consultants to learn new technologies. “It allows us to train our people more consistently, throughout all of North America,” McQueen said. That meant LinkedIn Learning became an integral part of the innovation team’s core strategy.
Stage 3: For the third stage, Marshall is working with individual managers to encourage them to build learning playlists for each of their employees. His team even built a guidebook for managers on how they can use LinkedIn Learning to both develop themselves and to develop their employees. The ultimate goal is to have each Softchoice employee have a development plan with their manager, which LinkedIn Learning helps support.
The end result of this three-stage strategy? LinkedIn Learning integrated in a business-wide strategy (“building a better place to work”), each department’s strategy and each manager-employee relationship.
The Results: A Cost-Effective Learning Solution That’s Creating the Culture Softchoice Wants
The engagement numbers of LinkedIn Learning – like 9,383 videos completed in August alone – are all well above industry benchmarks. And there’s no way Marshall could ever provide the amount of coursework LinkedIn Learning offers via in-person training for anywhere near the price LinkedIn Learning offers it.
“These are minuscule costs when it comes to educating 1,500 people at a time,” Marshall said.
Beyond the numbers, Marshall was brought on to make Softchoice a great place to work. And he knows that providing LinkedIn Learning is a key part of that – and he’s going to keep investing in it.
“Sometimes, things just make sense,” he said. “In a world where everyone is over-analyzing everything, you need to cut through the noise and say – does this make sense? Do we believe it’ll help make these people better? Then let’s do it.”