How This Company Masterfully Ingrained eLearning into their Culture

September 15, 2017

Arvato purchased, an eLearning provider, and masterfully made it part of their culture. Here's their Philippines branch with the learning trophy.

When it comes to rolling out an eLearning solution, there are few better examples to follow than Arvato’s.

Three years ago, Arvato – a global services company – purchased 1,000 licenses of For the first two years, usage of was strong, and the number of licenses slowly increased.

Two years ago, Arvato’s parent company – Bertelsmann – bought more than 30,000 licenses across several of their subsidiaries, with a majority of these dedicated to Arvato’s 70,000 employees, and integrated them into the company’s Learning management system,. While Arvato’s success wasn’t the only reason Bertelsmann purchased, it certainly influenced it. And usage of has continued to remain high among Arvato employees.

So how did they do it? How has Arvato’s learning and development team inspired its employees to adopt, leading to its expansion within the company?

Well, to find out, we talked with Arvato Learning & Development Consultant Gavin Walsh, who gave us the inside scoop. He detailed a handful of tactics Arvato’s L&D team used:

1. Arvato promoted before it was even available to employees.

Just like studios promote movies a month ahead of their release date, Arvato promoted before it was available to employees.

First off, when Arvato’s L&D team was buying an eLearning solution, they didn’t make the decision alone. They brought in senior leaders and employees and had them use several eLearning platforms to see which one they liked the most – being the favorite.

After Arvato’s purchase of 1,000 subscriptions but before those licenses were available to employees, the L&D team went about creating a buzz. They sent out an email to all employees telling them was coming. They put up fliers around the office saying that was coming. They held “learning labs” where people could go into computer labs and watch courses.

But Arvato L&D team’s most brilliant marketing technique involved something no one can refuse: free ice cream. The L&D team had ice cream trucks come to Arvato’s offices to hand out free ice cream to employees – enabling them to listen to the benefits of while enjoying a frozen treat!. By the time licenses were available, the appetite for this new eLearning solution was palpable.

2. Not having a seat for every employee at Arvato actually helped the L&D team market it.

Call this turning lemons into lemonade.

When Arvato first bought, they got 1,000 licenses for 2,000 employees in one of Arvato’s business units. Obviously, the L&D team would have preferred 2,000+ licenses, but that shortage helped increase the desire to use the product.

Because the licenses were relatively scarce, people felt a sense of excitement about being allocated one and people who didn’t have them yearned for them. It got to the point where Arvato’s L&D team started a waiting list of people who wanted a license. If someone who did have a license didn’t use it, they were bumped and replaced by someone on the waiting list.

Over time, more and more licenses became available and the waiting list became a thing of the past. But, Arvato’s L&D team turned a negative – only half of employees getting a license – turned into a positive, with scarcity being used as an effective marketing technique.

3. They got managers on board.

One group Arvato’s L&D team focused on was managers. They believed that if managers became active users of, they would recommend courses to their employees, while also setting the example to their team.

“If you get managers using, it cascades down,” Walsh said. “Generally speaking, if you get a manager onboard, you get their whole team onboard.”

To make this happen, Arvato’s L&D team, in conjunction with their HR partners, recommended specific courses to managers they’d find most useful. They also challenged managers who weren’t learning as much with tales of other managers who were.

“It’s amazing what some competition will do,” Walsh said. “If you hear about a peer spending time learning, you are more likely to spend time learning too.”

Arvato L&D and their HR partners also teamed with managers to help recommend courses to frontline employees. The more they saw what had to offer, the more managers would recommend courses on their own, Walsh said.

4. Arvato acknowledged that adoption comes down to relevance.

Going along with the last point, Arvato’s L&D team knew that the best way to entice employees to use was serving them relevant courses. So, working with HR business partners and managers was key to recommending relevant courses to individual contributors.

Additionally, Arvato’s L&D team built a three-course playlist for all customer service employees that tied directly to their day-to-day jobs. And they built playlists for employees eager to advance their career or switch their career – say, if a customer service worker wants to get into IT, Arvato has a playlist of IT courses for that. Or, if they want to become a manager, Arvato built a playlist of management courses for them.

“It’s about matching employees’ wants with the right courses,” Walsh said. “If you do that, you’ll see higher usage.”

5. Arvato continually markets, which includes a learning trophy.

Yes, having managers stay involved and recommending the right courses is key for maintaining high employee adoption. But so is continually marketing, so employees keep it top-of-mind.

Arvato’s L&D team does this in a variety of ways. They send out a monthly learning newsletter that includes stories from senior leaders on the courses they’ve gotten the most value out of. The monthly newsletter also includes “learning hacks” – bits of advice on how an employee can fit learning within their day.

To help gamify learning at the company, Arvato had a trophy built and gives it to the office that learns at the highest rate. That trophy has been all around the world throughout Arvato’s global offices – currently, it sits in the Philippines – as different locations claim the prize.

“It’s just a fun way to keep learning top-of-mind,” Walsh said. “People are excited to win the trophy, and they also get motivated when they see it go somewhere else.”

The benefits of having ingrained in Arvato’s culture

The reason Arvato purchased in the first place was that 250 Arvato employees wanted to take a course on Microsoft Excel. Sending those 250 people – roughly 10 percent of the company’s workforce – to an in-person training would have been cost and time prohibitive.

So, they purchased, and accommodated the need that way. Soon it became apparent that Arvato’s L&D team could meet many needs through – before, the L&D department was continually being asked to give a training on this or that. Now, they could accommodate all those requests through courses.

Interestingly enough, after a while the requests died down, which Arvato’s L&D team saw as a good sign. Instead of looking for in-person trainings, people were first turning to for their learning needs and were usually finding the answer.

What’s the result of this?

First off, it means all Arvato employees are learning the skills they need, when they need to learn them. But it also means Arvato’s L&D team spends less time dealing with a plethora of one-off training requests and more time focusing on his top priorities: manager development, for example.

“Back in 2015, our Head of L&D, Dara Smith, said that online learning will become a part of our DNA,” Walsh said. “He was right – now I couldn’t imagine a landscape without It serves all of our employees, while freeing us up to focus on our biggest development needs.”

*Image of Arvato's Filipino team posing with the company's learning trophy.