House of Fraser introduces e-learning for staff

Department
store chain House of Fraser is spending £100,000 rolling out an e-learning
function across all its 50 stores by the end of August.

The
move follows a trial at House of Fraser’s London headquarters and in five
stores.

Modules
will include customer services training, first-line and senior management
skills, communications and assertiveness training, better use of the telephone
and finance for non-finance personnel.

There
are no plans to scale down or relocate any of its existing training personnel
and the e-learning function will run alongside conventional modules.

Management
development adviser Phillip McKew said the main teething problem had been in
co-ordinating activities between all the different departments, in particular
ensuring IT was given enough space, time and resources to sort out any
glitches.

“The
IT department has been under a lot of pressure. Sometimes it is a bit like
having the M25 overloaded with cars,” he admitted. One of the modules in the
trial phase had had a women’s voice that came out so slowly it sounded like
that of a man, he admitted.

“People
have to start thinking in a different way, but we have not had any major
hostility from any of the stores,” he added.

The
£100,000 budget for the first year is being split 50/50 between hardware and
software.

House
of Fraser’s 650-strong store management team will be the first to experience
the system, with 500 people expected to have tried out modules by September.
Some 5,000 staff – out of 16,000 – should have had a taste of it by the end of
the year or early in 2002.

By
Ben Willmott

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