Improving Business Outcomes with the Virtual Learning Environment
Sodexo is among the largest food and facilities management companies in the world, with more than 400,000 employees in 80 countries who design, manage and deliver an array of “quality of life services.” Sodexo provides onsite services, as well as motivation solutions, in corporate, education, healthcare, government and remote site segments.
Sodexo’s goal for employee training was to decrease costs while improving attendance and engagement. In the past, the company held traditional, live employee training sessions that were costly because of the travel required for site-based managers. In addition, employee training was held in the summer, which conflicted with client partner commitments and vacation schedules. The company needed a more flexible and cost-effective solution that could still drive engagement.
The Sodexo Virtual Learning Environment
To conveniently reach some 4,500 U.S.-based managers and international guests, Sodexo partnered with ON24 to create a virtual learning environment for employee training and development. The virtual learning environment reinforces Sodexo’s long-term strategy by communicating progress and defining managers’ roles in the strategy, as well as offering performance tools and job aids to implement needed changes and improve business outcomes. The virtual learning environment brings together decentralized groups of employees, providing regular technical updates, career development information, and shared learning around specific topics.
Sodexo’s virtual learning environment incorporates a number of components for employee training, such as:
- An auditorium for viewing webcasts and hearing the president’s update
- A President’s Club in which team members are recognized for their successes
- A training center which organizes training content by category
- A communications center through which visitors can network and share information with peers
- Gamification techniques to increase engagement
Sodexo’s learning events typically span several weeks and focus on a theme such as operational excellence or business acumen. Sodexo’s HR and training strategy emphasizes “blended learning” options to fully engage the audience, recognizing that there are many learning styles and solutions.
Cost Savings and Increased Engagement
By avoiding the high cost of in-person employee training, Sodexo’s virtual learning environment has generated more than $1 million in cost savings, and the company has doubled the attendance rate for training.
For first-time training for new hires and updates to existing employees, Sodexo focuses on making the virtual training inspiring and informative. Gamification and prizes are used to boost engagement, with some prizes awarded for “sharing your inspirations” and for participating in contests. For example, a “Show Your Sodexo Spirit” contest leveraged user-created content to drive adult learning while lowering employee training costs dramatically.
Metrics provided by the ON24 platform and survey responses from participants underscore the success of the virtual learning environment. Results from Sodexo’s most recent training include the following:
- Live Q&A attendance: 3,201
- Webcast views: 7,997
- 100,047 views of 120 documents
- E-learnings completed: 1,194
- Average number of activities per learner: 31
Additionally, Sodexo made social media integration a priority. This effort included:
- A webcam chat session focused on social media Q&A
- An integrated ON24 idea widget for collaboration, attracting some 150 posts
- A Facebook interface—resulting in 421 new Facebook members
For Sodexo, the virtual learning environment offers immediate reach, clarity and connection to senior leadership and allows the company’s message to directly reach more than 4,000 individuals without subjecting the message to interpretation before it gets to the end user. Over the four-year period during which Sodexo has implemented virtual trainings, the company has achieved significant ROI by reducing per-employee training costs while delivering a consistent and repeatable message and increasing employee engagement. Some 70% of employees say that the scope of the materials meets their needs and that they gain new knowledge and learn new skills in the virtual environment.
Sodexo’s future plans include providing an enhanced learning experience, with additional opportunities for interaction via by video/web chats and the ability to consume training content on mobile devices, delivered via the ON24 platform.