Personnel Today Awards 2019: Another round for Mitchells & Butlers with second L&D Team award

The Mitchells & Butlers learning and development team collect their 2019 award.

Pub and restaurant chain Mitchells & Butlers bagged the Learning & Development Team of the Year Award for the second year running. The team was recognised for their success in delivering a new cloud-based, mobile-first learning platform that helped achieve impressive results across remote sites. We look at their winning entry and those of our other finalists.


Mitchells & Butlers

After an incident in which the company had fallen short on health and safety standards, Mitchells & Butlers needed to provide effective L&D that would ensure public safety and also engage learners. Training had been inconsistent across the company’s 15 autonomous brands and 1,700 pubs and restaurants, and e-learning was only compliance related.

M&B decided to centralise training under a new platform known as Mable (Mitchells and Butlers Learning Environment). Mable is cloud-based, mobile -first and offers a personalised user experience to employees. The team refreshed 12 existing courses and created 25 new courses in six months, and 372 videos have been published to YouTube. Courses are updated if requirements change and can be deployed quickly – a Norovirus refresher course was online within two weeks and had an 86% completion rate. Videos for a responding to allergen incidents course were filmed on a Monday and available on the Thursday of the same week.

In the first 90 days, more than 37,000 of its 46,000 employees had logged into Mable, completing 42,000 courses, creating 800+ forum posts, and consuming 15,000+ hours of videos. There are social features attached to the platform and they earn points based on their course completion and interaction. Almost two-thirds of employees log in at least once a week and guest satisfaction has improved. There have been 12% fewer incidents than trend predictions. As 90% of content is created in house, there has been an estimated cost saving of £320,000 compared to outsourcing training, and a 45% reduction in the time it takes to complete mandatory courses.



Formed in 2014 after a number of acquisitions, care company brighterkind offers 70 services for elderly people across the country. Care is not a well-paid sector and there are long shifts that are physically and emotionally draining. brighterkind’s L&D team wanted to motivate employees through learning.

The company’s head of culture and development travelled around the UK finding out what would make the culture more inspiring. They then recruited around 200 volunteer cultural ambassadors, known as ‘Pacesetters’, who could deliver the learning message at a series of events. brighterkind rolled out an exciting portfolio of learning activities focusing on values, behaviours, positive language, stewardship, community engagement and dignity. Two regional trainers were recruited to run ‘train the trainer’ sessions.

The L&D offer now includes Caring Leader (a toolkit to motivate teams); Senior leaders (two days of leadership modules); and Leadership Development (17 modules on team leadership and care-specific learning). A ‘Little Book of Culture’ was created for Pacesetters to share around the business. Since the new offer, there has been a 23% increase in Employee Net Promoter Score (ENPS) , a 35% increase in consumer NPS and a sharp reduction in complaints.

Imperial Brands PLC

Tobacco company Imperial Brands aims to ‘create something better for the world’s smokers’, and as part of this mission it needed to transform its learning and development strategy for 34,000 employees. There was no central approach so L&D was inconsistent across the business, with just 56% of employees agreeing that Imperial supported their learning and development.

The CEO’s growth strategy centres around ‘building capability’, and L&D’s goal within this was to reduce overall costs while increasing access to learning and efficiency. To do this, it looked at gaps across the business, workshopped with leaders in different markets, interviewed senior managers and visited sales outlets to speak to customers about their needs.

The result was a blended programme that would help leaders to: drive performance; take accountability; lead by example; improve and learn; build capability and create great teams. There are nine modules available in 10 languages, online Harvard courses, and instructor-led courses in leading people.

Leader retention has increased from 95% to 98.8%, with a 4.6% increase in people moving into leadership roles. Revenue in 2018 increased by 2.1%, while L&D costs have reduced per learner per hour from £96 to just £13 – annual L&D spend has reduced by £1m. When asked if they apply their learning to their job, employees gave an average score of 7.7 out of 10, while learning hours have increased by 60%.

Leeds Building Society

In 2018, Leeds Building Society updated its learning strategy against a backdrop of uncertainty – predictions of Brexit-related job losses and changes to customer and regulator expectations. The L&D team needed an approach that would help employees adapt to the ‘new normal’ while supporting the company’s transformation agenda.

One approach has been to digitise materials including access to online resources in the learning hub, more use of video, online animations that guide employees through processes, collaborative learning groups and one-to-one telephone coaching. This has saved 26.5 training days and employees’ ‘path to competence’ has reduced by 80 days in total. A digital learning hub offers 24/7 access to a range of resources.

Other developments include a mobile learning app, which has been downloaded by 300 employees, and a self-assessment learning tool that helps colleagues understand their strengths and suggests resources that might help them. Short, insightful learning events cover popular topics such as questioning and listening skills and have also saved time on training delivery. Leeds estimates that it has saved around £162,000 and 106.5 training days since transforming its learning offer.

Ten10 Solutions

Software engineering company Ten10 found it difficult to find people who had strong technical capabilities but also solid client-facing skills. It realised that people from pure STEM backgrounds did not always have the right soft skills, so decided to focus on hiring for potential from any background, including some without degrees.

A graduate academy was set up to provide recruits with a range of business and technical skills including software testing, agile, functional testing, test automation, performance testing and stakeholder management. Trainers are experienced professionals in the industry and most of the courses are developed in house so they can be tailored to hands-on needs rather than reflecting processes in textbooks. With rapid growth in staff and business, Ten10 also began developing its own range of online courses so people could upskill on the fly.

Regular surveys help the company to understand the needs and preferences of employees, and have shown a slow shift towards informal knowledge sharing in teams. As a result, it has trialled a number of initiatives around putting some structure around informal learning. Graduate feedback suggests that Ten10’s approach makes it the leading programme of its kind and learning is consistently voted the number one benefit by its people.

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