The challenges of developing 10,000+ employees

by John Hilton05 Nov 2015
Implementing an effective L&D strategy for 10,000+ employees comes with its challenges and rewards. John Hilton interviews Leila Wearing, Director Academie Accor & Talent Development, for her insights.

What does your L&D program look like at Accor Hotels?

Our mission is to assist 10,000+ employees in Australia to be great at their jobs. It’s about helping our hotels perform to their best by developing our people. Because we are in hospitality, our people are our greatest asset. They make the biggest difference to the experience of our guests.

We offer L&D to everyone in our hotels, from our frontline staff to our senior leaders. We also have a registered training organisation which means that we provide recognised qualifications like Certificates II, III and IV, and the Diploma in Hospitality. If we have unskilled people come through the organisation we can provide them with a qualification which makes them great at their job and also gives them really good career prospects.

What key challenges are you experiencing at the moment?

I actually think that L&D is in a very exciting space where we are moving away from traditional methods and being held accountable for driving real performance change, or behaviour change in the workplace. It creates challenges because we need to be able to demonstrate that our learning does make a difference to the business performance, but I think that’s a really good thing.
What are three lessons you have learnt through your L&D experience?

Virtual learning has been very effective in hotels in very remote places around Australia. To be able to provide them with the same opportunities as some of our people in city hubs has been really good learning for us.

The second one is around the importance of aligning L&D to the needs of our organisation, and ensuring that it’s really delivering on the performance metrics of the business and making an impact to the organisation.

Finally, the biggest thing I have learnt is the impact that learning at work can have on people. They feel really important, valued and engaged.

How do you go about finding the right communication channel mix and key messages for your audience?

We try to analyse our audience to make sure we really make something that will appeal to them and communicate in as many different ways as we can. This might be via email, webinars, videos, little short cartoons and posters.

As a business we are trying as much as possible to become more mobile accessible. We run a lot of learning on a smart phones and iPads. 

Are you noticing any trends in the L&D space?

We are moving into an area where we are offering much shorter and sharper learning programs to our people. We are also providing learning that they can access anytime, anywhere. We are moving away from having people out of the business for long periods of time while they spend, for example, two days at a workshop. We need to provide learning that considers their working day. We run virtual classrooms that might run for half an hour or an hour, and they can access it in their lunch break or in the afternoon.