Leaning into Learning: How Deciem is Using Learning to Support Employees in Times of Change

April 29, 2020

Leaning into Learning: How Deciem is Using Learning to Support Employees in Times of Change

When shelter in place orders began rolling out across North America in March, Kristina Tsiriotakis was faced with a unique challenge. As the Global Director of Learning and Organizational Development at Deciem, an umbrella company of a number of beauty brands, she had to quickly pivot her initiatives to support over 1,000 workers whose jobs had suddenly changed overnight.

“There were people who didn't know what to do and people who didn’t know what to do first. There’s sort of no middle ground with COVID-19,” Tsiriotakis said. 

She saw this unique situation as an opportunity to lean into learning as a way to support all of her 1,000 employees, each facing very different challenges. Deciem has chosen to provide LinkedIn Learning to every one of their employees, allowing Tsiriotakis to roll out initiatives that could benefit everyone, from those working in warehouses to office workers. In order to make the most impact across all job functions, Tsiriotakis knew her team needed to create an organized approach to learning going forward. 

Start small and build momentum

The first thing Tsiriotakis and her team did was to build out a “staying connected” campaign and hub for their learning platform so everyone knew where to get updates and information in real time. They started simple with a video message from the company’s CEO, then added “at home challenges” where they asked people to share things like work from home resources and best practices, or photos of their pets and plants.

“We needed to give our people an easy entry point to start engaging and feeling like they’re still a part of the Deciem family and community,” said Tsiriotakis.

Setting up a central communications channel and getting employees engaged was a crucial first step for Tsiriotakis’ team. That momentum allowed her to set the stage for upcoming learning initiatives.  

Provide structure and set goals

Once Tsiriotakis’ team had communication channels set, they created a “learn from home” tool that walked employees through how they could learn remotely and helped them set learning goals. “Our messaging was, ‘you might be home right now not really knowing what to do with your time, or you might be struggling with all the change, so we’ve made this tool for you so you can figure out how to learn whatever it is you need to learn right now,’” said Tsiriotakis.

As a part of the tool, the team created a downloadable daily learning goal template. This helped employees decide what they’d like to learn and allowed them to take charge of their own learning through simple, bite-sized goals that worked for them. 

Tsiriotakis also made sure the tool included a very simple, clear content roadmap that employees could use to “shop” the available learning content. She said this was helpful in taking the guesswork out of learning by surfacing relevant LinkedIn Learning courses, like Building Resilience, How to Manage Feeling Overwhelmed, or Ergonomics 101. This organized approach was crucial to maintaining the “opt-in” learning culture Deciem has created, where the learning team strives to inspire employees to choose learning on their own (rather than because of compliance requirements).

Blend digital learning offerings

In addition to the learn from home resource, Tsiriotakis’ team hosts a live learning event multiple times a week. The training ranges in topics from product knowledge and brand heritage, to professional growth and mental wellbeing. These sessions create space to trade ideas, create a stronger sense of community, and reinforce extended learning through LinkedIn Learning. 

“We’re gently reminding people that they can take charge of their learning in these live sessions, where people realize ‘I can learn about stress management. It’s a skill.’ Or ‘I can shop all these great courses on LinkedIn,’” Tsiriotakis said. 

Her team has encouraged continued learning after the live events by pushing relevant LinkedIn Learning courses. “We’re seeing increases in LinkedIn content consumption post learning events related to these topics because we know that these are competencies and skills that our people need,” Tsiriotakis said. 

To get a better understanding of what courses to push, Tsiriotakis’ team performs mini needs assessments daily. “We can see our people are gravitating toward courses on mental wellness, as well as teamwork and interpersonal skills. This helps inform our decision just in time for live sessions or additional support for our people, keeping our approach relevant.”

Shift the mindset around learning

An encouraging change that Tsiriotakis has seen over the past few weeks has been in a mindset shift around learning. She’s seeing people really understand that many skills, like managing change, are not fixed abilities we’re born with, but rather skills that anyone can learn.  

Her team has used the live sessions to reinforce this growth mindset. “We’re trying to educate people on that mindset. We’ve talked a lot about it in our live events because it's not enough just to push an email or publish a link to a great course. People need to understand why it’s okay to not have cultivated these skills yet and feel empowered to learn them. Just having that space to communicate that has been working really well,” Tsiriotakis said. 

The approach has been working so well, in fact, that Deciem has seen a 280% increase in hours of LinkedIn Learning content viewed in just the past two months. “It's not just a boost, it's a total shift in how people are turning to content to help them navigate this time,” Tsiriotakis said. 

Learning is never one and done

Tsiriotakis’ team has seen amazing results from their new learning initiatives across all business functions, including over 3,000 hours of LinkedIn Learning content watched over the past 30 days. However, she knows that this is not the time to let off the gas. “It’s not a one and done. You always have to maintain the momentum through communication, community, and conversation,” Tsiriotakis said. She makes sure to recognize learners for their accomplishments and acknowledges when they consume content. Then she finds ways to continue challenging them and reminding them to keep the momentum going. 

Her learning initiatives have made a huge impact in the lives of employees already, and her team has gotten a number of personal emails thanking L&D for supporting them through a tough time. They’re even seeing a large number of courses being consumed over the weekend, showing how much people are leaning into learning right now, even on their personal time.

“Our people are seeing L&D as a team that can offer empowerment, support, and strength. It’s not about ‘training,’ it’s about growing and developing,” Tsiriotakis said. “It’s an honor to be able to offer that and to have so many people thanking us in such a human way. It’s giving us all the energy we need to keep moving forward.”