Etex Building Performance UK is a subsidiary of the Etex Group, a Belgian family-owned manufacturing business built through multiple acquisitions over a century. Etex Building Performance produce and sell plasterboard as a B2B business.
The UK employs 500 employees from factory workers and engineers, to a large national sales force, executive leadership team and a full complement of head office functions. It operates across five sites Bristol Plant, Ferrybridge Plant, Gordano House (Bristol), Basildon Warehouse and Grangemouth Warehouse.
From the start the challenge was getting started - from scratch. There was no pre-existing learning management system (LMS) being used to record learning, it was just spreadsheets on different drives.
The main drive to roll out an LMS was to be compliant with ISO OHSOS 18001 and to fill in the gaps the central HR system could not provide. Adding to that, the LMS needed to link seamlessly between multiple platforms including the global learning management platform that hosted e-content and the local document control system, as well as hosting internal local content. The LMS needed to be created via single full-time employee.
Additionally, Etex's manufacturing workforce has relatively low IT literacy, and working across multiple UK-based plants as well as working remotely made this a particularly challenging audience.
But 2020 brought with it an additional challenge. COVID-19 triggered a nationwide lockdown in the UK in March 2020, meaning that Etex had to temporarily close its plants and furlough the majority of employees. This left employees feeling confused and in need of frequent communication with head office, making the LMS a vital source of information for furloughed employees.
Totara Learn was chosen as Etex Building Performance UK's first LMS. Chambury Learning Solutions were chosen as their Totara Partner because of their proven record of support that would be provided during implementation and post deployment.
With just one full-time employee able to work on the implementation, support was key to make sure that all the spreadsheet data was manipulated and populated correctly, and that training was available within. Within Totara, certifications, programmes and audiences were created, and that design and theme were executed in accordance with the company's brand guidelines.
The LMS needed to be integrated with Office 365 to deliver single sign-on for ease of moving between the different global and internal platforms, which required close collaboration with the Europe-based Etex IT team to configure.
Where data existed on spreadsheets it was combined and manipulated to be uploaded as legacy course completions. Learning paths were created inside the LMS to align new competency and training matrices for each site, and audiences were created for different plants and positions to ensure that every employee had access to the right training from day one.
Once Totara was configured, and the data pre-loaded, the compliance reporting could start using both Chambury’s custom RAG modules and RAG matrix reports alongside core Totara certification and program overview reports. Each manager was given their own dashboard, and for the first time in the company’s history they were empowered to be able to manage the compliance training for their teams and departments. By engaging the employees in mandatory learning and providing a structure that they could follow, the company’s learning culture began to grow.
Creating locally relevant content was a really important factor that has brought the site to life and engaged its learners, which involved working closely with Etex’s subject matter experts (SMEs). Chambury Learning Solutions supported the delivery of some face-to-face sessions that helped the SMEs get started. LMS managers set out consistent structures for SMEs to follow to maximise user friendliness and familiarity, making use of images and videos to minimise text and create interactive, intuitive learning content.
Etex’s LMS comprises videos, SCORM packages, seminar events, quizzes, checklists, assignments, certificates, file uploads, comment boxes and forums. They also use Active Presenter to create e-learning and videos for demonstrations and learning, which can easily be added to a course.
Alongside courses, certifications and programs, the finance team at Head Office actively use the ‘Record of Learning – Other Evidence’ area for their CIMA certificates and evidence for their professional registration, demonstrating that all learning and development can be held in one place.
The plant managers can see the plants overall compliance with graphical pie charts. Providing access to RAG reports [for certifications and program] allows managers and plant managers accountable for their own learning, their teams learning, and their plants overall EHS compliance.
Alongside courses, certifications and programs the finance team are using the ‘Record of Learning – Other Evidence’ area for their CIMA certificates. Demonstrating all learning and development can be held in one place.
"The Totara system has been so easy to use which has enabled the business to create a local platform with relevant local content relatively quickly. In just 2 years we have gone from zero to something people are engaged with. It’s got the Etex Group’s attention too and I already have other countries interested in re-creating what we have done here. I couldn’t have achieved this without Chambury, who have been a true business partner that I could lean on. I really trust them, and we have a great relationship.” – Genevieve Tofield, Talent and Development Manager.
On top of the standard usage, the LMS was also needed to support the Etex team throughout the COVID-19 lockdown. Etex rebranded their Totara-based ‘Learning Hub’ as the ‘Learning & Communication Hub’, owing to its expanded purpose.
Without access to their usual work sites, employees could no longer log into the LMS using their Microsoft Office 365 integration, so all user logins were reset to manual for remote access from personal computers, tablets and smartphones. This provided a much-needed lifeline for furloughed staff members who still needed to access training, support from their manager and internal news and updates.
"The LMS was drastically changed and updated in just a few days with the help of the Chambury Learning Solutions team, with key buttons to new communication areas."
The site homepage dashboards were redesigned to include just two simple buttons. The first directed staff to the training homepage, and the second to the new communication homepage with several sub-sections. The new communication subpage features news, CEO updates and a ‘Feel Good’ area featuring stories from staff members, exercise and sleep advice and links to quizzes and puzzles to help keep teams together. There is also a chat box and forum to allow employees to stay connected, and a manager guidance section for managers to understand the furlough process and access statistics about their team members. “My Team” takes managers to their team and their teams learning.
Etex’s LMS has been invaluable for both everyday learning and throughout the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown.
During lockdown, adapting Totara Learn to be used as a communication channel on top of a learning channel has allowed staff to remain connected with one another and their employer, giving them direct access to vital information and updates at a difficult time. This led to an incredible 284% increase in usage of the system, with course completions more than doubling in the height of the UK lockdown as furloughed staff sought opportunities to stay engaged with work.
As part of the normal usage, plant managers can see their plants’ overall compliance with graphical pie charts. Access to RAG reports also helps managers remain accountable for their team’s learning and their plant’s overall EHS compliance.