Alsco’s L&D Team Buttons Up Employee Experience and Increases Learner Engagement, Adoption By 700% in Less Than One Year
Alsco Uniforms is a uniform rental service that caters to the food and beverage, healthcare, and industrial business sectors. The company currently serves 355,000 customers across more than 180 locations worldwide. With employees working across more than 12 countries, the onset of the pandemic meant that the company’s two-person L&D team needed to act fast to retain existing employees and recruit new talent for its 81 North American branches—and beyond.
The Challenges: Retaining Employees and Getting Learners Up to Speed Quickly
Dean Moyes, Learning and Development Coordinator at Alsco, hit the ground running when he joined the company in 2016. Moyes quickly found that the company's then-LMS wasn't fit for their ambitious plans as it was outdated and difficult to use. L&D folks had to navigate through two user interfaces: one for creating and managing content and another for delivering that content.
Alsco’s L&D team has a simple motto that requires a not-so-simple tool: “The learner comes first. Whatever comes after that should be easy”. This was one of the driving forces behind choosing a new learning tech partner. The team was open to looking outside of the traditional LMS. As Moyes put it, “We wanted something that could deliver learning and could also be different things to different people. Not just a locked-in, ‘do it this way’ solution.”
In addition to the learning delivery challenges, Moyes saw a need to develop career pathing and guidance, but the company didn’t have a tool for that. Because of the high-turnover nature of the industry, it was difficult to retain employees pre-pandemic. As retaining employee’s became more complex throughout 2020, Alsco was happy with its previous decision to invest in the PeopleFluent Talent Mobility solution in 2019, as well as the Instilled Learning Experience Platform (LXP).
The Solutions: A Winning Combination of Tech Solutions to Boost Employee Experience and Learner Engagement
One of Moyes’ ultimate goals was to ensure the L&D budget would not be reduced—and to expand learning’s positive impact across the company. One of those steps was creating a global corporate communications department supporting 81 branches in North America. This served to strengthen the connection between the workforce’s global communities and provided another layer of human interaction.
As every people leader knows, a happy and productive person becomes a happy and productive employee. With this in mind, the L&D team took a different approach to its learning programs. They added life skills training (such as financial budgeting tips for single parents and ‘how-to’ videos for changing a tire) into the Instilled LXP. This ties into the company’s mantra of treating employees holistically rather than as a commodity. And, Moyes believes when people feel their best, they’ll give their best.
“It’s a positive distraction to watch these Instilled videos as it gives people learning opportunities from a learning-focused channel they like, rather than them wasting time or decreasing productivity with YouTube videos and the like,” he says.
The team has also added five development containers to the Instilled LXP that enhance collaboration between IT, sales and marketing, and HR. These containers allow Alsco tohouse similar pieces of content for learners to quickly find the learning materials they need. They are only visible to Alsco’s L&D team and the team or department members they’re working with. During project development, it gives the team a common workspace to share and prepare training materials or communications before releasing them company-wide.
These materials are stored in what they’ve named Alsco University learning library. It’s Alsco’s central repository for company guides that relate to information, learning, reference materials, and everything in between. Each business unit can learn and co-work together—no matter where they’re physically located—via their own dedicated ‘e-campus’ within the tool. Giving different people (outside of the learning creators) creator rights lets the L&D teams observe users’ aptitude for product adoption and has allowed them to expand on allowing others to upload and publish directly to the LXP.
The Results: Increased User Engagement and Adoption by 700% in Under a Year
After recognizing what the LXP had to offer in terms of training and tracking learner engagement, Alsco’s L&D team ditched its LMS—especially since nobody at the company was using it. The company recognized several benefits to this approach. Firstly, moving from an LMS to an LXP saved them six months (time they would’ve otherwise spent setting up learning programs in an outdated LMS). Secondly, Alsco didn’t sacrifice any reporting capabilities when switching to the LXP as manager feedback can be input and gathered by L&D teams. This allows them to track whether or not their employees are putting into practice the new skills they’ve learned.
Alsco has seen a 700% increase in user engagement and adoption by switching to the LXP. This is due (in no small part) to the curiosity that was stirred by the new functionality the learning experience platform has given them. When you see people in the business getting interested in learning opportunities, without them being required to do so, half the battle is won. Not only is the organization reaching out and providing training opportunities, but learners are actively seeking out opportunities for career development.
Within 6-8 weeks of office closures in 2020, the L&D team gathered feedback from key members across the business and identified a need to cover resource gaps across 80 branches. This proved to be invaluable as gaps were filled by workers who learned new skills in the LXP. By digging into the data, the team began helping with mission-critical projects, like guidance for offices on how to check the temperature for both employees and visitors.
Not only did Alsco find success when using the LXP to circulate communications around COVID-19, they also used the platform for things like operational training. For Alsco, this includes just-in-time training and performance support. All of this shows L&D teams how learners are engaging with course materials and how the learning might help them with career growth. This holistic approach, which centers the learning around the person (not the other way around), is what Alsco is all about.
The team even created a ground-breaking vaccine incentive program called “Vax to the Future". The program launched in August 2021 and ran through early October. Company leaders traveled to branches in Columbia, South Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida to award employees who participated in the ‘lottery’ by simply getting vaccinated. Two employees won $25,000 and another two won $10,000—all of which were chosen at random from a pool of employees who participated in the incentive program. The lottery program was managed via the LXP and Moyes reports positive engagement at the time of writing.
Overall, it wasn’t just the capabilities and functionality of using Instilled LXP that swayed Alsco’s L&D Coordinator. Moyes said it was the experience he had when talking to (and building trusted relationships with) people like Jeff Fissel, VP of Solutions at PeopleFluent.