Learning as a question of culture
For several years now, Henkel has been providing its employees worldwide with virtual formats for further training on top of classic attendance offerings. In 2019, a modern, intuitive and user-friendly platform was launched which includes virtual exchange formats as well as e-learnings, podcasts and videos. It's an investment in the company’s digital transformation. But just as learning never really ends, the work on the Henkel Learning Hub does not stop with the launch. We take a look at its current usage and future ideas for further development.
In a changing world, traditional concepts are reaching their limits: “Learning” has always been something we do in school, vocational training and university – to prepare ourselves for the working world, where we can finally apply what we have learned. In a digitalized, innovation-driven and agile working world, however, the classic “from hire to retire” career, in which employees fill one role for many decades, is pretty much a thing of the past.
“Almost all roles in the company will change significantly in the coming years,” says Lucas Kohlmann, Global Head of HR Strategy, Leadership, Talent Management and Diversity & Inclusion at Henkel. “This, of course, poses a challenge for our employees. We want to support everyone in understanding these developments and to actively participate in them,” he adds. “They should be able to grow with the transformation.”
Even though digital learning formats are being used more and more frequently, face-to-face training courses will continue to be offered, for example to promote direct exchange among colleagues.
Henkel launched a global learning platform last year that offers all employees worldwide access to more than 4,000 learning modules. One focus is on topics related to the digital transformation, but also on specialist topics developed by the individual divisions in cooperation with the Human Resources department, as well as personal and professional skills such as agile working methods, presentation training or remote leadership. Offers from LinkedIn Learning or TED Talks can also be accessed via the platform.
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There are no guidelines as to when or how long learning should take place. Instead, the aim is to establish learning as an important part of the everyday work culture. Because in a constantly changing economy, the further training of employees is part of the task and the prerequisite for companies if they want to enjoy long-term success and be able to shape future developments.
Work and learning can no longer be viewed separately. Tomorrow, we will need knowledge and skills that we've never even heard of today. However, establishing a culture of learning in everyday life also means breaking down silos and making knowledge available to everyone. This process takes time – and requires a clear commitment from the organization.
Inga Höltmann, Expert for New Work and New Learning, Founder of the Accelerate Academy
The learning platform was therefore an investment in the future of Henkel. And one that came at precisely the right time. Just a few months after it was launched, the Corona pandemic arrived − making face-to-face training impossible for the time being.
At the same time, the number of users on the learning platform increased. Learning, no matter when or where − that has always been the great advantage of the Henkel Learning Hub. It became a source of knowledge for employees worldwide who suddenly had to work from home. “The crisis has certainly created momentum for digital learning,” says Lucas. “Corona has made us try out new things and rethink old principles. It quickly became clear that knowledge transfer can work really well electronically. We can also use virtual methods to gather experience and exchange feedback.” In the future, even more learning modules will therefore be transferred to the digital world − making them available to employees in a flexible manner.
One way of combining the advantages of face-to-face learning with technology is so-called “community-based training”, i.e. learning formats in which groups come together virtually, exchange information, work together on topics and provide each other with feedback. These were popular even before Corona: Many teams at Henkel are organized internationally, so cross-site collaboration has long since been part of everyday work.
I regularly use the virtual group training sessions. They will never completely replace personal exchange – but they are a good supplement. Of course, there are also challenges, and not just technical ones: It’s just too easy to hide behind your laptop and let the others do the work.
I mainly use the platform to expand my knowledge of digitalization and to keep myself up-to-date. I worked on the “ExpertFit” training for the Marketing department myself. I especially like the small, bite-sized pieces of knowledge that you can absorb between doing other things. I try to take time to study every Friday. Unfortunately, other topics often come get in the way. I’ve now put a blocker in my calendar, which helps. The biggest hurdle at the beginning is finding your way around the system. It is simply very extensive.
And it could be a bit more playful: For example, I would like it if I could share my learning successes via platforms such as LinkedIn, thereby motivating others to join in.
Adeel Ansari, Global Senior Manager Content Creation & eLearning – Laundry
We are actually planning to expand this playful approach in the future: We have come up with some exciting actions and features to create variety and to get even more employees interested in the platform. After all, learning should be enjoyable.
The user is at the heart of our learning strategy. For the Digital Upskilling program, we launched a survey among all employees: What is their current status? What do they need? On this basis, individual training courses have been developed, which are now constantly being further expanded, for example to also include employees with a very high level of knowledge – and to find ways of passing on their knowledge to others.
Employee feedback is also very important to us during the ongoing operation of the platform. They can rate individual modules via star ratings and comments. Whatever fails the quality check will be adapted or removed.
Lucas Kohlmann, Global Head of HR Strategy, Leadership, Talent Management and Diversity & Inclusion bei Henkel
The team surrounding Lucas Kohlmann is working on publishing further content in the Digital Upskilling program. The platform’s functionalities are also being constantly expanded, the user experience improved and new technologies tested. Even modules with virtual reality technologies could soon be in use. Where the journey leads will ultimately also depend on the users and their wishes. But with the launch of the learning platform, Henkel has taken a big step forward on the road to becoming a learning organization – as the ever-growing number of users shows.