How this Company Inspired Their Employees to Learn an Hour a Week
December 1, 2017
Most executives will say that a commitment to learning is critical to their organization’s success. But few reinforce that commitment as much as Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s largest provider of telecommunication services.
This summer provided a perfect example of that. Econet wanted to create a culture where their employees were enabled to be lifelong learners so that they can successfully compete in the ever-changing telecommunications industry. Part of this program involved offering their employees LinkedIn Learning licenses.
With the purchase of a LinkedIn Learning for their teams, the company announced a new policy: all employees were given the “achievable goal” of learning an hour a week. And that didn’t have to be on their own time – employees were encouraged to take an hour away from their jobs each week to watch LinkedIn Learning courses.
“Change is the only constant in life,” Econet Wireless COO Fayaz King said in a video address sent out to all Econet employees the day they received access to LinkedIn Learning. “We need to evolve and change by upskilling ourselves for the future.”
The results from this new initiative were immediate and phenomenal. Two months after launching LinkedIn Learning to their employees, 94 percent of employees had used the solution. More impressively, those learners hit their goal by averaging nearly four hours learning per month, a nearly unprecedented number. “Your job is made so much easier if your executive team buys in,” Talent Development Manager Tara Howard said. “We certainly have that. And we are seeing the results, as people are making learning a habit.”
How Econet inspired their employees to make learning a habit
While powerful, it takes more than a video message from the COO to inspire 1,000 employees to make learning an hour-a-week habit. To get those results, Econet rolled out a multi-channel marketing effort to highlight and reinforce the importance of learning.
It started a month before LinkedIn Learning and its 10,000 courses were available to Econet employees. Econet’s learning and development (L&D) team released a teaser video to the company announcing that LinkedIn Learning was coming. And they released another teaser video a week before employees would have access.
They took it to the next level the day LinkedIn Learning launched, which was a Monday. After Econet employees left on the Friday before for the weekend, the L&D team plastered the company’s offices with LinkedIn Learning banners and posters.
That Monday, they also released the video featuring King highlighting the importance of learning and the new hour-a-week goal. The Econet executive team engaged in a roadshow where they championed the initiative. They have continued doing this, starting their weekly meetings describing what they’ve learned the week before, and participating in group sessions where teams watch the LinkedIn courses collectively and apply the learnings to their unique context.
Additionally, as part of their semi-annual performance reviews, Econet employees set goals of where they want to improve over the next six months, and their managers assign LinkedIn Learning courses that will support their improvement. For example, perhaps a customer service representative wants to become more technical; they’ll put a goal of taking developer courses on LinkedIn Learning. Or, a marketer will want to advance into leadership; they’ll put a goal of taking management courses. And, when an internal employee applies for a new job within the company, they are always asked about their learning activity.
“It’s about upskilling the employees,” Howard said. “We want them to grow within the company. And they have access to a world-class platform that can take them there.”
While it’s only been a few months since LinkedIn Learning has launched, the Econet team have plans for tying all this learning to business results. Specifically, they want to see if there is a correlation between high performing employees and their LinkedIn Learning usage.
Econet Wireless’s employees have among the highest engagement rates of any LinkedIn Learning customer. And it’s easy to see why: not only has their executive team been outspoken about the importance of learning, the company has also built in smart tactics to keep eLearning top-of-mind and relevant.
But it’s so much more than just using a product. Think about what this commitment to learning is saying to their employees: first, it’s critical to always develop yourself to stay competitive in a constantly changing field. But secondarily, it’s also signaling to their employees that they believe in them and they want to invest in their development.
Considering that the biggest reason people leave a job is a lack of career opportunity, this is a powerful message. On its career page, Econet states that it has one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the world.
With initiatives like the goal of an hour a week learning, it’s easy to see why.
LinkedIn Learning has more than 10,000 courses covering virtually every business skill. Click here to learn more.