In response to the transport and scheduling problems inherent in a traditional classroom-based training offer, the Carrefour Group has embarked on an e-learning project with the MEDIAplus eLearning solution from ENI. Staff members are trained in office software skills via e-learning, as part of the group’s life-long education plan or, for French employees, in the context of their DIF entitlements (individual training rights). Here, the Carrefour Group shares some observations.
The world’s second-largest retailer and the largest in Europe, the Carrefour Group has over 9 500 stores, company operated or franchises, and employs 471 000 people throughout the world.
The office software e-learning programme proposed via ENI’s MEDIAplus eLearning solution is open to all stores belonging to the Carrefour Group in France. The programme is included in the group’s life-long education plan and can be taken as part of the DIF individual training entitlement.
“Our decision to change from traditional training to e-learning was prompted by our determination to offer the same quality of training to all our staff, whether they are based at head office or in one of the stores. We were also looking for a solution to the perennial problem of time and mobility: it is never easy for a store to send one of the team away on training for days at a time,” explains the project manager from Carrefour’s training division.
The outcome of the Carrefour Group’s invitation to tender was the adoption of the MEDIAplus eLearning solution from ENI. “We decided to offer our staff various training formulas covering the whole range of office applications. We included job specific programmes (for product managers, secretarial staff, and others) and task-based programmes (giving a presentation, page setup skills, pictures and objects?). These targeted, result oriented programmes are very popular with our staff, and the ENI solution was best at providing them. Apart from that, the main strong point of ENI’s MEDIAplus eLearning, which is unique to their product, is that the training takes place in the real software environment, with instantaneous analysis of the results. This is a real advantage for the learner,” adds the product manager.
Learner can take an assessment test to discover the level of skills they already have before choosing a training programme. Assessment and training are both accessible over the company intranet. Training takes place either in a computer room (many of the stores have rooms that can be used for e-learning), or at the learner’s desktop computer. Carrefour runs 8-week training campaigns: a learner has 8 weeks to finish the training programme. Beyond this period, the time spent training no longer counts as part of their Carrefour training plan. Learners retain access to MEDIAplus eLearning training and resources, however, throughout the year.
The e-learning offer is an integral part of the Carrefour France’s life-long education plan. An employee’s training needs are determined during the annual appraisal interview, by the employee together with his or her management.
Of course, an important factor in the success of an e-learning project is effective communication to attract the interest of prospective learners. Carrefour can count on all the teams in its HR and training divisions keep both management and staff well informed.
“To promote our office software training offer, we insisted on the innovative nature of the approach, as well as the practical aspects, such as the ease with which assessment tests and training programmes can be accessed from any store,” reveals the project manager.
To give the project every chance of success, Carrefour has set up a tutoring scheme, so that staff members are not left to discover the new training method alone. “We have also produced a booklet for our managers on how to make the most of e-learning, which insists on the importance of accompanying the learners,” he expands.
Every store’s training manager keeps track of the learners’ training sessions and their results. Carrefour’s training division monitors the project on a national scale.
Today, a few years after the introduction of the e-learning plan, the results are satisfying.
“We have improved the training by adapting the programmes to suit us, changing the topics covered, and allocating more of less time to them. We have also split some of the longer programmes,” the project manager comments.
Learners with little or no computer experience are encouraged to follow the MEDIAplus eLearning module “Getting started with Windows”. A short module on how to use MEDIAplus eLearning is also proposed.
Carrefour is currently working on programmes tailored to improve the skills of particular sections of staff. Some of these may lead to certification. “We want our training offer to be useful to people with different needs, so we propose both a general approach (the various functions of the software) and a more specific approach (by job profile),” says the product manager.
“I should say that the main reasons for our success are the tutoring and support scheme, and the reliability of the system, technically speaking,” he explains. “The easiest way to discourage someone is to present them with a training programme that is not compatible with their computer or their software version or some other such problem. That is why it is important to involve the IT department in coordinating the stores’ IT systems, drivers and so forth, to make sure that the right technical conditions are in place,” he adds.
“Another danger to avoid is setting over-long training programmes. The length of the programmes should be adapted to the profile of the learners. Particularly if they are not given active support or if they were not motivated enough to start with, learners tend to drop out before reaching the end of their programme,” regrets the project manager. “It is better to set short programmes on specific topics than programmes that are too long. The result is generally better,” he argues.
Carrefour is considering the introduction of assessment programmes in the near future. These tests would be taken before training, so that the results can be used to define training programmes customised to the needs of individual staff members. “Choosing a training programme is not always easy. Some people choose programmes too far above their real level of skills, at the risk of rapid discouragement. Other people underestimate themselves and choose a programme which is too easy and does not teach them anything new,” observes the product manager.
“The aim is to give everyone exactly the training they need. If we want our training plan to have the maximum impact, the first step is to assess learners’ skills and to ascertain their requirements.” he concludes.