We were awarded the Diamond by ABSL (the Association of Business Service Leaders) for an educational initiative focusing on developing expertise internally. By leveraging expert knowledge, digital tech tools, and collaboration, our Learning & Development (L&D) department launched three company-wide educational programs over the last 18 months. The first is the Mentoring Program that brought together internal mentors and employees. The next are Expert Train, which upskills specialists in all fields on adult learning methods, curriculum preparation or educational materials creation for future in-house training, and Leadership Essentials, which focuses on the education and professional growth of managers.
In 6 months, more than 300 employees across all our locations participated in the individual programs. The result of our Learning & Development (L&D) department initiatives is not only a reduction in the cost of external trainers and courses, but also greater collaboration and creativity across teams.
Our Senior Learning Specialist Karen Tharrington nominated us for this award and shared in this article how it all started and what the expectations were.
Hey Karen, you submitted an application for this award and brought a diamond to Kiwi.com! How do you feel about this?
When I read the award criteria for the education category, I knew we should enter! With 11 candidates, I was nervous watching the awards ceremony and when they announced Kiwi.com as a winner, I was very emotional. Okay, I admit, I cried, haha. To me personally, this award represents the hard work and dedication of all of us in L&D. I have spent my career in education, helping mold next generations of teachers and now I want to do the same for our company. One quote I saw recently resonates with me: “Employees are important assets for any company; developing them is universally recognized as a strategic tool for an organization’s growth, productivity, and retention” (SHRM, 2020); to me, that is the core of L&D: to enhance learning at Kiwi.com and develop expertise within a supportive learning culture.
Tell us how you came up with the initiative.
As an L&D team, we knew we could contribute more than process training. We analyzed low-scoring areas from the ESAT, key objectives, and costs associated with external training. We saw onboarding training in other departments that could use structure, and employees had also indicated they wanted to learn from others and develop themselves. All three programs allowed us to meet the key objectives, while purposefully connecting employees who could learn from each other.
Our biggest obstacle, obviously, was the pandemic. Suddenly, company priorities shifted and everyone worked from home. L&D had to shift to remote training overnight. There was a learning curve but it sparked our creativity and helped us focus on the most important elements of the programs. In the end, we leveraged technology and internal talent to develop Kiwis in all locations and at their own pace.
Once you decided to focus on this initiative, did you have any idea it would get this exposure or that in less than 6 months you would get more than 300 people participating?
To be honest, we were surprised at the demand in our Mentoring Program when it first launched, which tells us there is a need for it at Kiwi.com. The diversity of specialists in the Expert Train program has also been encouraging. They really know their content but want help delivering it. Leadership Essentials (LE) is critical in growing managers and supports a key result that focuses on great employee experiences, as measured in the ESAT. The format is innovative, bringing Kiwis together across multiple departments who meet regularly and collaborate, share best practices, and gain experience.
To me, the positive impact our programs have on all Kiwi employees reflects in the day to day operations: we make learning better so everyone can succeed. Participation in our programs reflects multiple levels and roles within the organization, indicating a real desire to connect and grow as Kiwis.