Catalyst is a founding Totara Partner, specializing in developing, designing and supporting enterprise-grade open source solutions. They are strong advocates of open source technology, giving customers the freedom to innovate, and have a global presence spanning the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
With a global, geographically dispersed team, Catalyst is always looking for ways to better connect its people. Much like the rest of the world, the global pandemic in 2020 led to Catalyst’s team working remotely, which prompted the team to think innovatively about how they could better support their team throughout the pandemic and beyond.
Catalyst had three main learning, engagement and performance challenges to tackle:
- How to better support new employees through remote onboarding
- How to keep staff motivated without regular face-to-face contact
- How to ensure staff are up to date on data protection and asset management policies
As a founding Totara Partner, Catalyst’s choice to use Totara’s Talent Experience Platform was a no-brainer. Comprising learning management system (LMS) Totara Learn, learning experience platform (LXP) Totara Engage and performance management system Totara Perform, Totara’s Talent Experience Platform ticked all the boxes when it came to meeting Catalyst’s talent experience needs.
Onboarding new starters
To meet their need for engaging remote onboarding, Catalyst opted for Totara Learn’s programs feature. This is configured to require a due date relative to when a new employee joins Catalyst, giving everyone time to complete their required onboarding with minimal manual intervention.
Courses are then grouped into sets based on when they should be completed, ensuring content is drip-fed in sequence rather than being delivered all in one go, which can easily overwhelm a new employee. Courses include those welcoming new staff to Catalyst, information on remote working, introductions to key systems and the all-important information security certification. Line managers and the HR team have access to a report allowing them to monitor progress and intervene if necessary.
“I was new to Totara when I joined Catalyst, so exploring its features while following my own induction program on the Catalyst learning platform was extremely useful for my future work as a developer.
The system is clean and intuitive to use and courses are easy to follow. There’s also a variety of tools to support professional development, such as competency assessment, goal setting and progress evaluation/check-ins.”
- New employee, Catalyst IT EU
Keeping staff motivated with continuous performance management
Monthly check-ins are set up for all employees via Totara Perform. This is a monthly form asking questions on wellbeing and performance, along with requesting evidence of progress towards goals and competencies. These forms are also completed by an employee’s line manager during arranged meetings, providing a digital record of what was discussed. These monthly meetings ensure that everyone has the opportunity for a structured discussion with their managers about their performance, and help to keep everyone motivated and on track.
Catalyst also took advantage of Totara Perform’s competency frameworks. They underwent a competency mapping exercise with team leads and heads of departments to identify which skills and knowledge are required across the organization. The aim is for each individual role to have its own set of required competencies, as well as company-wide competencies that apply to everyone. Employees and managers can add extra competencies to their list to evidence further skills.
Competency profiles and achievement pathways are used by employees, managers and the HR team to get a visual display of an employee’s current proficiency level, which can also be used as a discussion point in monthly check-ins. Catalyst has applied its own internal “mastery” scale, ranging from “No experience yet” to “Champion,” at which point employees are awarded a digital badge of recognition for that competency. All staff can rate themselves against this scale, with line managers reviewing the results during monthly check-ins (with the power to change them if necessary).
Information security certification
Catalyst administers its crucial information security certification using Totara Learn’s certification feature. Using this feature, Catalyst created a program of learning where learners’ course completion data is “reset” after a set period of time. This allows their Data Protection Officer to get an at-a-glance overview of the status of all staff via a custom report, which helps them complete compliance audits, and helps them maintain their ISO 27001 status.
11 months after completing the program, Totara sends each staff member (and their managers) a notification that their certification is due to expire, giving everyone time to complete their compliance training on time. This automates the annual compliance process and reduces the time spent chasing people to complete their training. All new employees have this certification built into their onboarding program, so their renewal date is relative to their start date.
“We have been able to deliver high-quality training in information security to all our staff, using content unique to Catalyst Europe, with just the right mixture of seriousness and humor, to ensure people engage with it. This content can be easily updated every time there is a change in policy and the announcement function (with the acknowledgement button) helps to promptly communicate changes to all staff.”
- Compliance and Process Manager, Catalyst IT EU
On top of their three key needs, Catalyst also implemented Totara Engage to support peer-to-peer learning. Staff are able to create their own resources, including links to interesting articles, notes from recent training courses, team discussions or event reports, which can be shared across the company. These resources are then “discovered” in the course catalog, with the most popular appearing on each learner’s dashboard in the “Recommended for you” block.
Additionally, some Catalyst teams use the workspaces feature in Totara Engage. One team uses a hidden workspace to collate notes on team progress during weekly meetings, but users can also hold discussions, upload documents and share resources publicly or privately, with a set audience.
“We use workspaces for “retros.” In the retro, everyone answers three questions regarding the previous week: what went well, what didn’t and what did you learn. We record the answers in the workspace so we have a historical record of them, enabling us to spot patterns, e.g. if something appears in the “what didn’t go well” answer several times, we need to do something about it.”
- Team Lead, N7 Project Delivery Team, Catalyst IT EU
Totara’s Talent Experience Platform has totally transformed the way Catalyst upskills, develops and supports its people. Senior stakeholders and employees alike have showered the platform with glowing feedback. For instance:
“The Talent Experience Platform has enabled us to centralize, manage and track the learning and development of our team and individuals in a simpler and more powerful way than ever before.
The key driver for us was to ensure compliance with our external accreditations and certifications; however it did not take long for us to see the huge potential available within the system and start to put that into play for the benefit of our team and our business.”
- Joey Murison, Managing Director, Catalyst IT EU
Next up, Catalyst plans to build courses covering topics including leadership and management, business skills and various software systems. They will also explore content marketplace options to leverage existing courses.
They have also rolled out annual appraisals using the performance activities feature within Totara Perform, and are currently exploring using the tool to gather feedback.
Finally, Catalyst is developing a “find an expert” feature, using a “Badges issued” report to help find peers with specific skill sets within the organization. A “peer recognition” workflow is also being set up to allow staff to nominate colleagues and thank them for going above and beyond in their roles, which will further boost motivation and employee engagement. There are currently around 80 badges to award across 30 people.
"At Catalyst IT Europe we use Totara to train our staff in information security. Courses cover a range of issues, from physical office security to understanding how to handle information assets securely, and all link into the Information Security Certification that has to be renewed on an annual basis. The courses contain bespoke content with links to the
internal policy documentation and procedures. The embedded quizzes help ensure that learning has truly taken place. For more generic subjects matters, such as Data Protection Act, you might like to opt to purchase the off the shelf content. Totara tracks completion records and can email the falling behind member of staff with reminders, as well as their line manager, ensuring an efficient monitoring of completion."
– Tatiana Mordvinova, Compliance and Process Manager