How the Government of Ventura County is Using LinkedIn Learning to Strengthen Its Culture

August 28, 2019

See the County of Ventura's experience with LinkedIn Learning after they went all-in.

The Government of Ventura County in California – which serves a population of 850,000+ people spread over an area nearly the size of Delaware – is committed to being a learning organization. Why?

Because for a government to be effective, it needs a culture that attracts great people and inspires them to do their best work. And, according to copious amounts of research on the subject, one of the best ways to build that culture is to ensure there is ample development opportunity within the organization. Being a learning organization is a core value in the County of Ventura.

This value is so critical that its Board of Supervisors and County Executive Officer Mike Powers have allocated the resources and funding to promote continuous growth and development for all its regular employees. The County’s executive team members have been champions for an easy to access learning platform to expand to its entire workforce. 

“That’s what we want in our County,” Learning and Development Manager Betsy Swanson Hollinger said. “People who believe they can be the best version of themselves with a job that helps them get there. We want people to say, ‘Wow, I love to work here’.”

And so, Ventura County has created numerous development programs, from leadership and career development to diversity-and-inclusion efforts to new-hire orientations. And yet, until 2019, there was a problem with their learning offerings: an overreliance on in-person trainings.

Overall, Ventura County was offering more than 300 in-person trainings a year, or more than one per workday. Some problems with this were:

  • It was expensive.
  • It was expensive from a time perspective, as classes were generally four hours long, which meant four hours away from employees’ day-to-day jobs.
  • Worst of all, it wasn’t accessible to all. Shift workers and people who live or work far from the training, among dozens of other edge cases, made it so only some people could go to specific trainings. That flew in the face of the County’s efforts to provide learning for all.

Ventura County knew there was a better way. So, they began researching online learning providers to help provide a more seamless, democratic learning experience.

Enter LinkedIn Learning, Which Had the Content and Convenience Ventura County Was Looking For

LinkedIn Learning immediately jumped out to Ventura County as the right online learning solution. Why?

A few reasons:

  • First off, many Ventura County employees knew and loved, and were excited to use the next evolution with LinkedIn Learning.
  • The content library. With 14,000+ courses and 60+ added each week, LinkedIn Learning covered the diverse needs of all of Ventura County’s employees. “Everything is there,” Swanson Hollinger said. “Hard skills, soft skills, it covered all of our needs.”
  • The ability to add their own custom content. Along with LinkedIn Learning’s content, Ventura County talent developers were happy they could upload their own custom content into the platform as well for an all-encompassing learning experience.
  • The accessibility. With LinkedIn Learning available via a mobile app and optimized for microlearning, Ventura County’s employees could learn anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Because of those factors, Swanson Hollinger and team believed LinkedIn Learning would do exactly what they wanted it to do – help them attract, retain and engage top talent.

“Our team put it on our career site,” Swanson Hollinger said. “It’s a recruitment tool that shows we really invest in our people.”

In November and December of 2018, Ventura County piloted LinkedIn Learning, seeing good success. That gave the County confidence to go all-in at the start of 2019, investing in 9,000 licenses to cover all 9,000 employees across 26 departments within the County.

How Ventura County Drove Adoption of LinkedIn Learning: Marketing, Weaving it into Existing Programs and Support From County Leaders

Once they made the decision to buy LinkedIn Learning, how did Ventura County roll it out?

It started with nailing the positioning of the platform. In all their marketing of LinkedIn Learning, Ventura County advertised LinkedIn Learning as a benefit to employees, which could be leveraged around their schedule.

“I tell people, just like you have health insurance for your body, well this particular benefit is for your mind to help you grow to be the best version of yourself,” Swanson Hollinger said.

Nowhere was that message more prominent than in a video starring Powers to announce the launch of LinkedIn Learning to all employees. In that video, Powers said a key component of the County’s culture is learning, and this investment was a sign that the “commitment just got even bigger.”

“Our employees, you all, are our greatest asset,” Powers said in the video. “The caliber of the people we hired here, as you know, are the best and the brightest and we are so fortunate. But we want you to continue to grow and learn and these courses will give you that opportunity.”

How else did Ventura County drive adoption of LinkedIn Learning? Many ways, including:

  • A series of workshops. Swanson Hollinger and her team held a series of workshops across the county’s 26 departments to inform employees about LinkedIn Learning and show them how to use it.
  • Weaving it into existing programs. Since its launch, LinkedIn Learning has been weaved into performance reviews, in-person trainings, the County’s wellness plan, etc.
  • Advertise, advertise, advertise. Ventura County has relentlessly advertised LinkedIn Learning with everything from contests to eblasts to posters and newsletters. Their efforts included a “Got 5 Minutes” campaign to a contest where people who finished a LinkedIn Learning course were eligible for an Amazon gift card.

The Result: 53,000 Videos Watched and Workers Who Feel Supported

How did those efforts rolling out LinkedIn Learning work?

Beautifully. So far, more than one-quarter of Ventura County’s employees have used LinkedIn Learning, watching a combined 53,000 videos.

That’s helped employees develop thousands of new skills, which in turn made them even more equipped for their day-to-day roles. But, more importantly, the investment into LinkedIn Learning has helped further strengthen the culture at Ventura County.

“I think it’s great,” Douglas Brooks, a senior accountant for the County, said. “I feel supported by the County as a whole that I have this toolbox they’ve given to me.”

Brooks said he often watches LinkedIn Learning courses and applies the lessons immediately, instead of having to get “pulled from the office” for an in-person training. For example, when he needs to learn something in Excel, he’ll watch a course on LinkedIn Learning – pausing the video periodically to apply the learnings to what he’s working on.

“It’s amazing,” Brooks said. “It’s very easy to use, and yet the content that’s delivered can be priceless.”

Debby Rowan, who works in the County’s HR department, agrees. She’s watched several courses on being a better teammate and was so impressed with them, she shared it with the rest of her team to watch as well.

And, on weekends, she’s even watched several photography courses on the platform – one of her passions. That’s made her feel more fulfilled inside and outside of work.

“I would say LinkedIn Learning offers a great opportunity for you to learn and grow,” Rowan said. “Not just for you professionally, but personally as well.”

That’s exactly what Ventura County is looking to create – a culture where employees feel supported and inspired to become the best versions of themselves.

“We tell our employees, this is an investment in the whole you,” Swanson Hollinger said. “It’s here for however you want to grow.”