Personnel Today Awards 2016: SABMiller’s ‘world-class’ L&D prevails

SABMiller crafted a winning combination of L&D to emerge victorious in the Excellence in Learning and Development category at the 2016 Personnel Today Awards. The brewer also went on to win the Overall Winner trophy at a ceremony on London’s Park Lane. We look at SABMiller’s winning entry and those of the runners-up.


SABMiller Europe

About the organisation
SABMiller is the second largest beer company in the world, bringing refreshment to millions of consumers through iconic brands Peroni, Grolsch and Pilsner Urquell. It has around 70,000 employees in more than 80 countries, and since this awards submission it has been announced the company will be acquired by AB InBev.

The challenge

Excellence in Learning & Development – the judges

Professor Jane Turner, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Teesside University
David Goddin, managing director, Change Continuum

Beer volume sales in Europe have recently been in decline as consumers switch to wine and spirits. Senior leaders in SABMiller’s European business recognised that the smarter battlegrounds would be where value (not just volume) could be won – by selling the right volumes of the right products in the right places at the right prices. An improved Profitable Revenue Growth Management (PRGM) initiative was created to help generate an incremental $22 million target profit by the end of 2016.

What the organisation did

  • Integrated “PRGM thinking” into everyday routines. In 2014, launched an online PRGM playbook, consisting of on-demand resources defining and providing guidance on the most important PRGM actions and decisions. All nine managing directors in Europe endorsed and promoted its content.
  • The PRGM playbook challenged countries to expand their strategic thinking, identify additional profit opportunities and think carefully about the individual capabilities required to deliver them.
  • Significant gaps in PRGM knowledge, skills and behaviours were identified. These areas of improvement were consistent across all countries and the business swiftly realised that L&D was at the heart of the paradigm shift that was needed.
  • Built knowledge through a suite of e-learning modules, with the majority of L&D effort focused on coaching, live action workshops and “walking the talk” in day-to-day routines. Supported this activity by the on-demand PRGM playbook.
  • Placed equal emphasis on “how customers make money” and “how SABMiller makes money”. The L&D programme advocated that profitable beer selling could be achieved via win/win solutions for customers and SABMiller.
  • In 2015, phase 1 prioritised sales teams working with retailers/distributors and building foundational knowledge across the commercial function. In 2016, phase 2 expanded the depth of learning; focusing on skill application and visible behaviour change.
  • A cross-functional SABMiller team developed, launched and mobilised the programme, supported by three external organisations; SPIRE, Lumesse and GCube.
  • Created personal development plans based on learning journeys for 13 commercial roles.

Benefits and achievements

  • By April 2015, $5.4 million incremental profit had been delivered, rising to $33.4 million by April 2016. This beat the target by 50%, one year ahead of schedule.
  • “Two years ago, PRGM was a functional discipline targeting the selected few. Due to this L&D initiative, we now have an entire commercial organisation that is skilled in PRGM, helping us deliver considerable profit growth” – Sue Clark, SABMiller Europe MD.
  • By April 2016, more than 6,000 e-learning modules had been completed and more than 1,500 coaching interventions had taken place.
  • In September 2015, ABInbev announced their intention to make an offer to buy SABMiller, which created some uncertainty regarding future ownership and job security. Senior management aligned behind the criticality of the L&D initiative to achieve 2016 targets. Employees stated that the programme instilled meaning and purpose during a period of great uncertainty and galvanised the European organisation behind a powerful objective.

Judges’ comments
“World-class approach to creating a demonstrably positive organisational and commercial impact through L&D.”

SABMiller collect the 2016 Personnel Today Overall Winner trophy



About the organisation
Barclaycard, part of Barclays Retail and Business Banking, is a global payment business. Barclaycard was the first credit card introduced in the UK, coming into service in 1966. The company operates in 20 countries around the world, with around 12,500 employees looking after more than 30 million customers.

The challenge
Barclaycard’s Customer Payment Solutions (CPS) department supports customers in financial difficulties. Over the years, the Specialist Support Team (SST) has become a pioneering team that supports customers with a wide variety of vulnerable circumstances.

Recent FCA announcements gave the CPS learning team a reason to further enhance what they offer. In addition, it wanted to support agents with: identifying types of vulnerability; addressing the scale/severity of vulnerability; when to engage SST; and managing customer’s expectations. Managing medical issues was handled particularly well, but once certain mental health conditions were raised, staff lacked confidence to handle these calls.

What the organisation did

  • In January 2015, the CPS learning team began a learning needs analysis (LNA) to bring about a consistent, combined vulnerable learning initiative for frontline advisors and the SST. Previously, learning had been segregated, with separate pieces on “general” vulnerability, mental capacity and the 2014 Consumer Credit Act changes.
  • Undertook a LNA for the retail division of Barclays in order to support the roll-out of vulnerable training, which was new to their business area. As they had limited awareness, knowledge, and experience of handling vulnerable customers, the CPS learning team assisted the operations to introduce adequate processes that supported the customer.
  • Held a one-day training session for specialist agents developed in partnership with Stockport MIND. The training addressed mental health conditions, their symptoms and potential treatments, the Mental Capacity Act, stigma and discrimination, suicide and looking after yourself.
  • Created a one-hour e-learning module for all frontline agents (CPS and retail) giving the basics of vulnerability, followed by a five-hour, face-to-face session (seven hours for specialist teams), bringing the skills of the e-learning to life with scenarios.
  • Further needs analysis found that SST were seeking: further suicide training (handling customers that are threatening it, or who have previously attempted it); handling emotional manipulation; delivering difficult outcomes/decisions to those in high-risk vulnerable situations; dealing with difficult emotions; and managing your own emotions after the call.
  • Sent out a tender to six companies specialising in supporting vulnerable customers. A joint effort from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Money Advice Trust secured the bid.

Benefits and achievements

  • CPS received the training first and gave a net promoter score (NPS) of 85 for “likely to recommend” against a target of 45, and a rating of 90 (against a target of 50) for the trainer.
  • SST saw an average NPS of 73 over the three months after training, followed by four consistent months of 100 NPS score.
  • The CPS learning team’s material was given a stamp of approval from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Money Advice Trust, and used as the go-to learning for other areas of the business.
  • Across Barclaycard, the training has been delivered to more than 1,500 staff, and instigated three new specialist teams to support vulnerable customers.
  • Supported 90,000 vulnerable customers in CPS.
  • An annual accreditation took place for all CPS advisors to test their knowledge and application of the vulnerable processes. Saw 91% pass the accreditation within two attempts and the remaining 9% underwent a one-hour coaching session before passing their third attempt.

Judges’ comments
“A strong submission demonstrating creativity, determination, strategic thinking and significant organisational impact.”

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl)

About the organisation
Dstl provides the UK Government with sensitive and specialist science and technology research, advice and analysis. It ensures that innovative science and technology contribute to the defence and security of the UK.

The challenge
Dstl’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) talent require strategic thinking, the ability to make links between apparently unrelated data, and to build and leverage complex stakeholder relationships. “Systems solutions” that take account of these aspects and people with the “system skills” (SS) to create them are Dstl’s most vital 21st century asset.

In 2007, Dstl forecast an emerging skills gap in its STEM workforce of 3,000 employees. One hundred stage 3 SS practitioners would be crucial within two to three years for critical delivery and advice roles. The target was to grow the stage 3 population from 9% to 12% within five years. Without intervention, stage 2 employees would take between five and 10 years to progress.

What the organisation did

  • JCA Global completed a job analysis to identify those psychological factors critical to SS performance. Statistical analyses from a validation study with Dstl staff confirmed Emotional Intelligence (EI) predicted high SS performance above any other factor.
  • This research led to the development of the Accelerated Systems Skills Programme (ASSP), a solution that accelerated systems skills through the development of applied EI by completing a four-day, two-part “Maximising Individual Effectiveness” (MIE) workshop.
  • Combined online diagnostics (e.g. SS 360-degree feedback and JCA’s EI diagnostic) with the use of practical tools, experiential exercises and EI-specialist coaching.
  • Achieves, through the workshop, a transformative and sustained performance improvement in SS and scientific capability without any initial focus on technical skill.
  • Developed a learning experience able to transform the emotional intelligence of highly sceptical, overly logical scientists – a significant proportion of whom the agency now know have or likely to have a diagnosis of high functioning autism.

Benefits and achievements

  • Provided delegates with the catalyst to change ineffective attitudes and habits and the confidence to step out of their comfort zone in the work environment. Combined with the support of a senior mentor from the business, this created the perfect learning environment for the development of SS.
  • After embedding MIE in 2007, by 2011 it was also being used to enable the capability of its technical consulting and leadership development streams. Since 2007, more than 350 scientists have been transformed by MIE.
  • The target in 2007 was to accelerate SS development and increase the amount of stage 3 systems people from 9% to 12% within five years. Dstl were close to the target in 2010 (11%) and exceeded it in 2012 (15%) – providing clear evidence the method had accelerated SS development past the previous 10-year timeframe (without intervention).
  • Analyses of EI before and four months after MIE confirms significant, sustained change: a 25% increase in engagement and self-confidence; a 50% increase in proactivity and “can-do” attitude; and a 40% increase in awareness of others.
  • “The most valuable capability development programme of my 27-year career in the civil service” – delegate feedback.

Judges’ comments
“An extremely thorough analysis … an example of a long-term strategy that is clearly innovative and sustaining. An excellent submission.”

Omega Pharma Ltd

About the organisation
Omega Pharma, a division of Perrigo Company Plc, is a top five consumer healthcare company. With operations in 35 countries, Omega Pharma specialises in delivering innovative over-the-counter treatments that can be purchased without a prescription. Its iconic brands include Nytol, TCP and Zantac.

The challenge
Employee engagement feedback suggested there were some areas it could greatly improve on that would make a significant difference to employees. This included ensuring everyone has the skills and knowledge required to be able to be the best at their job, and everyone being able to say that they have developed as a professional.

What the organisation did

  • Following a decision to appoint the first HR business partner into the business to build a people and development team from the ground up, designed the first core learning & development offer for Omega Pharma employees.
  • The head of people & development worked with functional leaders and employees across the business to complete a training needs analysis to identify what the core training requirements were. This research demonstrated that there were a number of areas that needed to be focused on, both in terms of soft skills and functional capability.
  • Branded the learning and development offer “Dispensary”, giving it a sense of identity. The Dispensary was to provide a structured development menu that was aspirational, inspiring, motivational and linked to robust PDP discussions.
  • Agreed the first-ever learning and development budget and launched the programme in April 2015. This was then consolidated with an email campaign, including personal prescription forms for employees to review and agree their personal learning goals.
  • Designed the Dispensary programme to deliver against four key areas: better business behaviours; leadership development; compliance; and functional skills development.
  • Developed a set of learning & development metrics to track progress and success against the core strategic objectives.

Benefits and achievements

  • In the first year since launch, it has delivered 22 non-mandatory workshops, which have been attended by 162 people.
  • Employee engagement scores show improvements against the programme’s objectives. “You have the necessary skills to execute your role – to include both technical and interpersonal skills” – 8.1 score in 2015 compared to 7.4 in 2014. “You are clear about what is expected of you and are held accountable for your actions and behaviour” – 8.3 score in 2015 versus 7.6 in 2014.
  • A good attraction tool now embedded strategically into the business, people strategy and annual review progress.

Judges’ comments
“A comprehensive L&D offer delivered from a zero base.”

Rentokil Initial

About the organisation
Rentokil Initial operates in more than 60 countries, providing a myriad of pest control, hygiene, plant and environmental services to clients from small residential customers to large industrial companies.

The challenge
Rentokil Initial wanted to ensure global best practice for their customer site risk assessments. Quite often, Safety, Health & Environment (SHE) training can be dull, uninspiring and doesn’t lead to a change in people’s behaviour. It is difficult to ensure that people can identify risks, and this is crucial when dealing with colleagues’ and customers’ lives. There was a wide variation in the capabilities of colleagues to undertake suitable and sufficient risk assessment, such as hazard identification and risk controls. There was no standard Site Risk Assessment (SRA) format and risk assessment focused on routine activities that did not take account of site-based hazards posed by customers.

What the organisation did

  • Launched a global project in 2015 to unify best practice around SRA procedures. Local practice was diverse, which meant that the new policy would have to ensure best practice around the world.
  • CEO and SHE leadership team partnered with the U+(L&D) team to embark on a project to revolutionise health and safety training. The goal of the project was to educate and embed the new SRA best practices, together with supporting colleagues on-the-job, to secure a 20% increase in SRA completions and the quality of SRAs completed.
  • Formulated learning objectives, to provide users with: the ability to articulate the importance and value of a SRA; information on how to fill in an SRA form and ensure colleagues are capable of successfully completing one; guidance on how to act upon common hazards in typical work situations; and a means to apply and assess their knowledge in real-life situations.
  • Created a curriculum covering four key areas developed with the aim of facilitating the learner’s achievements in line with the project’s objectives:
    • Essentials in risk assessment – a 25-minute, interactive, e-learning module with links to 18 situational awareness job aids/pdf resources.
    • How to complete a site risk assessment – a bite-sized training video that can be accessed on a mobile phone and used as a performance aid.
    • Hazard awareness games – require the user to enter a virtual residential and industrial site where they are exposed to a number of typical hazards and they will need to select the most suitable precautions to carry out their work safely.
    • Situational awareness tips – range of job aids/pdf resources for use online and in print.
  • Each of the learning assets were translated into 20 languages and delivered within four months.
  • Promoted the learning via the internal communications magazines, email campaigns and promotional video.

Benefits and achievements

  • The project has been crucial in supporting the general SHE strategy and driving change in the business.
  • Managers are now aware that there are resources available in their language ready to be deployed to workers who are heading to perform a SRA or for new colleagues.
  • Provided a strong foundation for staff in countries where it was most needed.
  • Contributes to reduce accident rates (26% decrease) which provides direct returns in some countries (through government subsidies or tax rebate for low accident rates) and improves customer piece of mind and the brand’s reputation.
  • Thirty-six per cent increase in the number of SRAs and a 32% increase globally in the quality of SRAs.
  • Delivered with a £160k decrease in costs.
  • More than 86,200 views of the training materials by 89% of the organisation.
  • A 46% increase in global engagement scores when asked “Does the company care about your health and safety at work?”

Judges’ comments
“Very strong application showing clear business impact.”

Santander UK

About the organisation
Santander UK is one of the UK’s leading personal financial services companies and one of the largest providers of mortgages and savings in the UK. The bank has approximately 20,000 employees, 14 million active customers, with almost 1,010 branches and 50 corporate business centres.

The challenge
In recent years, Santander has encouraged a cultural shift in line with new strategic goals and business needs. Following an extensive 12-month research period in September 2012, the following leadership challenges were uncovered:

  • Motivation, confidence and time management.
  • Coaching, influencing and effective conversations.
  • Strategic thinking and change management.

As a result, management and leadership development became one of Santander’s highest priorities in 2013 and a specialist team was formed to implement an effective leadership programme that helped drive forward the cultural shift by instilling positive behaviours.

What the organisation did

  • Commissioned Pearson TQ, working in partnership with the L&D team and the business, to develop a new leadership programme that would have a positive impact on learners, the business and Santander customers.
  • Pearson TQ implemented a modern, innovative, mixed-media programme, consisting of face-to-face modules, e-learning, bite-sized online learning, social learning communities and on-the-job development.
  • Used delivery methods conducive to a positive learner experience (interactive, accelerated and blended learning, psychometric reports and 360-degree feedback, professional actions and forum theatre, strategic innovation and idea generation and expert entrepreneurial speakers).
  • Encourage line managers to support delegates through a line manager toolkit and line manager webinars.
  • Awarded delegates with a gold or platinum badge accolade to recognise the transfer and application of learning in the workplace.
  • Assigned one module on the programme to the creation of a business model to solve a customer need.

Benefits and achievements

  • Approximately 600 leaders completed training throughout 2014/15.
  • There are 463 active members in the private LinkedIn community where the mixing of delegates from all business areas strengthened collaboration across divisions.
  • The 12 leadership e-learning packages have been visited 18,196 times since May 2013.
  • Chief Executive Nathan Bostock has identified the skills learnt on the Santander Leadership Programme as “crucial” to the company’s success and to the incorporation of the programme as an integral component of the current and future strategy.
  • Ninety-six per cent of learners have tried new things as a result of their training, 90% of line managers can see learning being applied at work, and 78% of participants joined the online community to continue to expand on the topics and share best practice.
  • “I’ve worked in a number of other blue chip companies and have to say this is the most consistently excellent training course I have attended. I actually feel more valued by Santander from this experience” – delegate feedback.
  • During the phase 1 2014/15 intake, Santander had to promote and market the programme extensively to fill the available places. However, following the positive impact and word of mouth from phase 1 delegates, when the registration for phase 2 was launched in spring 2015, the programme was oversubscribed by nearly 200 places – with no internal marketing of the programme.
  • Increase in overall career satisfaction rating: 82.5% pre-September 2014, 94.7% July 2015. Attrition levels decreased: 14.69% in September 2014 to 9.67% in June 2015.
  • High-impact product enhancements, including lifetime savings account and mortgage offering, have increased efficiency, improved customer experiences and made meaningful differences to people’s lives.

Judges’ comments
“A comprehensive intervention that has clearly had an impact.”

Steinhoff UK Retail Ltd

About the organisation
Steinhoff is one of the top five furniture retail groups in Europe and Australasia, and employs approximately 90,000 people worldwide. The UK operations consist of Bensons for Beds, the nation’s largest bed retailer, and Harvey’s, the nation’s largest furniture specialist.

The challenge
Following a merger with two other large bed retailers in 2011, Bensons for Beds contacted learning technologies company Growth Engineering to create Bensons Academy, an online learning portal packed with social and gamification features to engage learners. Before launch, the three combined businesses were making a double digit million-pound loss. Two-and-a-half years into the learning programme, the combined businesses were making a double digit million-pound profit.

What the organisation did

  • In 2014, parent company Steinhoff expanded the programme to its other UK brands, Harvey’s and Cargo; rebranding Bensons Academy to Steinhoff Learning Store.
  • Trained 2,600 staff in 500 stores nationwide.
  • Invested £1 million to build a 9,000 square foot development centre, complete with mock shops for training staff, which opened 10 May 2016. The facility is used to handle all the company’s face-to-face training needs.
  • Staff use tablets to access the Steinhoff Learning Store, a hub for the learning and development efforts, allowing them to watch videos and complete assessments in class.
  • Implemented a five-stage delivery system where training is delivered roughly 50% online and 50% face-to-face: 1) e-learning unit to introduce the topic, 2) face-to-face workshop, 3) in-store observation verified online by line managers, 4) consolidate learning to confirm development and 5) badge and qualification awarded to the individual.
  • New starters are given immediate access to the learning store to complete introductory training and compliance content. They are asked to spend four days training at the centre for onboarding and to help make them more effective as they enter shop floors.
  • Invested 2.6% of the salary budget in training – the average for the industry is 2%.

Benefits and achievements

  • The online solution minimises the time and costs involved in training. Having all staff on one platform, with access to the same learning content, unifies processed business-wide.
  • Monthly engagement surveys reveal increasingly higher scores, reaching a recent high of 85%.
  • Over the past 12 months, performance at Bensons has increased by 15% and performance at Harvey’s has increased by 9%.
  • It used to take nine months for new staff to fully understand sales techniques and make a profit. Now, training for new starters to become fully effective takes four months, a time saving of 55%.
  • Bensons Academy reduced staff turnover at Bensons for Beds by 50% over two-and-a-half-years. Steinhoff Learning Store has slashed turnover at Bensons and Harvey’s by a further 15%.
  • Over the past six months, 2,600 learners have logged in 44,698 times – more than 17 logins per learner.
  • Success introducing new products, such as the “Comfort Station”, which lets salespeople diagnose the best bed for customers using body mapping technology. Normally, the sales teams convert sales at a rate of between 15% and 20%. Following a five-stage development piece on the Comfort Station, they’re converting at 45% (33% is considered world-class).

Judges’ comments
“Very strong application showing clear business impact.”

Tile Giant

About the organisation
Tile Giant was established in 2003 and, after an early period of growth, was acquired by Travis Perkins in late 2007. Since then, the company has grown from 29 to 110 stores and employs more than 500 staff.

The challenge
Over the past decade, the shopping habits of consumers have changed dramatically. Customers will compare and contrast products and services online, as well as look for the best price. Customers are now going to retail stores to touch and feel the product but then go home to buy online because it is cheaper. Tile Giant needed to change its approach to customers, who were utilising the Tile Giant’s teams’ specialist knowledge to then buy online and not always from the business. The behaviour of staff needed to be changed from passive and transactional to active and engaging; they needed to come out from the counter onto the shop floor to build relationships and trust with the customers.

What the organisation did

  • Identified key learning objectives:
    • for the business: increase sales; reduce labour turnover; and develop consistent sales process;
    • for the employee: develop personal capability; increase earnings through greater bonus potential; and increased engagement; and
    • for the customer: engaging positive customer experience; best solution for their needs; and room project delivered on time and in budget.
  • Working with Impact Business Partners, selected individuals from across the business consisting of sales, marketing, the leadership team and customers to map the customer journey before building the sales process.
  • Defined the sales skills, capabilities and mindset required from each colleague at each level of the organisation. The outputs were then built into a series of training workshops and supporting learning material for the rollout.
  • Built the learning into everyday work patterns; following the 70/20/10 principle – 70% on the job, 20% relationships and 10% education. This created continuous learning rather than just an event.
  • Divided the rollout into key stages to ensure each colleague and manager had time to apply the learning and embed the skills.
  • Took store leadership team away (six regional managers and a representation of board directors) for four days immersing them into the new ways of sales and services the changes required.
  • Trained each store manager and ensured they could attend the seven-week programme.
  • Implemented training tools for ongoing development, such as: sales behaviour observation form (used to provide feedback on each aspect of sales behaviour); coaching form (planning document to support facilitation of a coaching session); handouts (quick coaching and reference guide to help refresh them on sales methods and tools); and bite-sized learning videos.
  • Implemented an online coaching tool to capture coaching notes that can be viewed by anyone further up the business hierarchy.
  • Rebuilt mystery shop and relaunched it as the CX Factor (Customer eXperience). CX agents visit a store, under the guise of a customer, using covert cameras to film the sales experience. The agents then capture how they felt about the sales interaction into the CX Factor system. This video is uploaded to a sales behaviour expert (salecologist) who completes a coaching note for the individual about things they might consider changing that would make them more successful.

Benefits and achievements

  • Sales revenues are up 22% with an increase in the number of transactions and average transaction value.
  • The CX Factor provides consistency and robust measurement in the sales process.
  • All employees have demonstrable new sales skills. Average earnings have increased and 95% of all personnel have achieved their bonus, with 13% achieving a “super bonus.”
  • Voluntary labour turnover has dropped over the past six months by 5%.
  • The customer survey has hit 9.7 (on a scale of one to 10) satisfaction.

Judges’ comments
“A clear business need with clear objectives and a comprehensive solution with significant impact.”

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