PayLease Drove Strong Engagement of LinkedIn Learning through Learning Champions

April 8, 2019

In the past year, PayLease — a company that provides online payments, resident billing and expense management tools to property managers — built out its Learning & Development (L&D) team from scratch. To accelerate the training available to employees, they chose to invest in LinkedIn Learning and in nine months its 240 employees completed 17,657 videos.


How were they able to get such early and enthusiastic adoption? Company leaders recognized that to hit their growth targets, they needed to find a scalable way to close skill gaps. Additionally, they believe that learning is key to maintaining their award-winning culture. An investment in LinkedIn Learning was a natural choice.

“Having 40% of employees at entry-to-mid-level with many recent college grads, we recognize that an employee’s initial role is likely not where they will stay,” said Director of Learning and Development Rebecca Moffatt. “We saw a chance to ramp up new employees with tangible skills that would serve them in their current role and position them for future promotions. And our investment in learning tools has already made a difference with recruiting new talent.”

PayLease’s Journey to LinkedIn Learning: A Need to Scale Training

Moffatt was brought in to establish an L&D department and develop a learning curriculum for PayLease in January 2018. “I was the first official member of the L&D team,” she said. “Prior to my arrival, training and career development was unstructured, inconsistent and dissatisfying for the employees.”

Her first order of business was to create “New Hire Bootcamps” for the Sales organization that was undergoing a significant overhaul.  Even with her L&D department growing to three people, there wasn’t bandwidth to create learning for the rest of the company. She knew that they needed a learning platform that was versatile, agile and full of relevant content.

“We needed to offer learning to the whole company,” Moffatt said. “Most of our employees hadn’t received any formal training, or been given tools to grow their professional skills. But we also knew that the New Hire Bootcamps were going to consume most of the time of our small L&D team.”

Moffatt had used and LinkedIn Learning in past jobs. “I knew the library was robust and that it would have the breadth of content to meet the needs of everyone,” she said. “It was an obvious choice.”

Twenty-five staffers across departments were chosen for a two-week test run of LinkedIn Learning. The feedback was strong, so Moffatt and her team set about creating a rollout strategy aimed to guarantee buy-in and success.

Making Learning Relevant From the Start: Identifying Areas of Need In Each Department With Employee Input

“The culture here is extremely collaborative,” Moffatt said. “We worked with leaders in each organization to identify their needs and goals, and then structured a program for each department. We needed a plan to ensure adoption and use long after the hype of the initial launch.”

“We wanted to be thoughtful with the rollout, and not have this appear as one more thing on already-full To Do lists,” said Learning and Development Manager Sydney Cowie. “We sat down with our managers and identified learning champions for each team. We talked about each role within the team and identified areas that need strengthening. The learning champions then explored the LinkedIn Learning platform to find the courses that corresponded to the areas that need fortification.”

(The learning champions have turned out to be critical to the overall success of LinkedIn Learning at the company - more on them in a bit.)

“With the preparation in place, we were able to unveil this as an exciting gift to PayLeasers. Truly an investment in the growth of each employee, both professionally and personally.” said Cowie. “It was an invitation with unlimited access to a great learning tool.”

The platform was also highlighted during Monthly All Hands meetings, Department meetings and check-ins, and during conversations between learning champions and colleagues.

The True Genius of PayLease’s Rollout: Learning Champions Serve As Scouts And Cheerleaders For Their Teams to Drive Learner Engagement

The genius behind PayLease’s rollout was the designation of learning champions, each department has their own learning champion from within their team - IT, Sales, Customer Service, etc.

“Their role is to assist their managers in identifying courses,” explained Cowie. “They also act as a ‘help desk’ between their team and Learning & Development, and act as cheerleaders for the program.”

The champions were chosen after conferring with the managers regarding employees who actively involved on their team and who wanted a chance to stretch their leadership abilities,” Cowie said. “We ended up with a group of enthusiastic, dedicated PayLeasers. They played with the platform and sampled a lot of courses. They gave us feedback and then they were able to champion the program for their team after roll out.”

Each team was allowed to adopt their own methods of consuming the courses, but all teams were required to complete their identified learning path within a specific period of time. Typically, each team was given 4-5 courses per quarter to complete.

The strategy worked. Their overall activation rate stands just shy of 90%. In August and September, when teams were given their learning paths, more than 50% of activated users viewed content. In the last 90 days, 62% of the activated users logged in to LinkedIn Learning and completed 5,939 videos.

PayLease’s Learning Champion for Sales Drove Adoption by linking Learning to Results

Chris Helmers is a sales executive at PayLease, working in the company’s San Diego office. As the designated learning champion for his sales team, Helmers had his work cut out for him.

“Salespeople have a single-track mind,” he said. “They want to sell. The more you work and the more you sell, the more money you make. So it’s hard for salespeople when someone says to them, ‘We want you to take a step back and focus on this’.”

Additionally, he noted, sales is different from other departments in that it is often the soft skills that make a difference. Chris worked hard to identify the courses that were truly relevant for their day to day.

“It can be the Wild West when you are cold-calling,” he said. “We wanted to develop a more methodical approach. I looked for courses that spoke to the basics of selling, including topics like conflict resolution and how to deal with negative feedback. And we’ve seen a big transformation. We are more methodical, organized and disciplined.”

Because the sales team is on the go, Helmers stresses the mobile app and the ability to download the courses on a tablet or mobile device so they can be accessed even when there is no WiFi. He makes sure he follows up with colleagues to check on their progress. “I’m active with it,” he said. “I make sure they know that if they have a question, I am available. And with LinkedIn Learning, you can learn something at night and be using it the next day.”  

PayLease’s Learning Champion in Customer Implementation Drove Learner Engagement by making it a Party!

While the Sales team uses LinkedIn Learning individually, Elisa Camargo’s team in San Diego treats it almost like a book club. Camargo, a customer implementation specialist, is the learning champion for her 10-member team, setting the course schedule with her manager. Before they set the courses, however, Camargo met with each colleague to chat about what each thought would be most useful to learn.

“I asked them what skills would be helpful to enhance or add,” Camargo said. “I wanted to get their feedback before we set the courses so it would be most beneficial to them and worth their time.”

Once the learning path was set (it included topics ranging from project management to how to be a good listener), some of the courses were taken individually, but some of them were taken together as a group. On certain Friday afternoons, the team can be found eating pizza and taking a course together. Afterwards they discuss how the new knowledge could be translated into their daily jobs.

“It helped us bond as a team, and it helped us better dissect and understand the information,” Camargo said. “The courses helped us reconnect to what was really important about our jobs. Sometimes you forget about the ‘soft skills’ that you use all day, every day. Our customer service definitely improved after taking the courses.”

The learning champions method has worked great for the company, Moffatt said. “It’s so important to keep learning top of mind, otherwise it gets lost in the day-to-day. With the champions, they make sure LinkedIn Learning is talked about, so it’s fresh on everyone’s mind.”

Meanwhile, Camargo is getting ready to start setting the next learning path for her team. She will once again start by asking her colleagues what they are looking for. She’s looking forward to it, whatever they chose.

“I love LinkedIn Learning,” she said. “I added 10 certificates to my LinkedIn profile in five weeks! How cool is that?”  Pretty cool, indeed.