N.V. Waterleiding Maatschappij Limburg (WML) supplies drinking water to more than 500,000 households in the province of Limburg in The Netherlands.
"A healthy organization has employees who are productive, healthy and enjoy their work. Due to the aging of the population - of our own employees but also of the province of Limburg - we will have to attract new passionate “drinking water makers” in the future. For them, but also for our current WML staff, we need to maintain and expand the available knowledge, and the WML academy will take care of that. The WML academy will become our own knowledge and training center." –Sven Kok, HRM Advisor at WML
In their mission, vision and objectives document, a very clear wish was formulated: to safeguard knowledge, to share and develop knowledge in the water sector in a clear place within the organization.
On average, employees at WML are over 50 years old. These older employees will be leaving in the foreseeable future. When they leave, they will take a lot of knowledge with them. WML would like to record their knowledge so that their new (younger) employees - who are accustomed to a learning culture - can learn from it and develop. One of the things they needed for this was a solid learning platform.
The solution was found in Totara's learning management system (LMS), Totara Learn. In 2016 WML conducted market research on LMS systems and through their branch organization, they were introduced to The Courseware Company. Initially they focused on the NetDimensions LMS, but because of their company size (about 400 employees) and training requirements, The Courseware Company recommended Totara Learn, which was within their budget and flexible enough to expand later if needed.
The WML Academy
WML deployed theWMLAcademyon the Totara Learn platform. The most important part of the academy is the ability to offer their employees a package that they can use when carrying out their work. On the one hand, this consists of e-learning in which they can guarantee the knowledge that is available internally. On the other hand, WML purchased e-learning from Goodhabitz, such as MS-Excel, Agile and Scrum courses, but also soft skill training such as communication skills and even mindfulness.
If they are able to carry out their work properly, the employees will have easy access to the academy from anywhere. For this, WML uses a modern link with the AD manager via Single Sign On (SSO).
"We find it important that employees have access to the LMS ‘anywhere, anytime, on any device.’ Even if you still have 10 minutes left at home to continue with your e-learning, all you need is your WML phone."
In addition, WML - at the same time as setting up Totara Learn - has also started working with SharePoint. This is the knowledge library with documentation like manuals, policy notes and guidelines, in which employees can find information.
WML is working on a seamless link between the academy and SharePoint, so that they can easily link to more background information and documentation in e-learning courses. These ICT links simply have to work well, so, together with The Courseware Company, they paid a lot of attention to this. As a result, employees only have to log in once and can continue where they left off, regardless of the time or device they were working on at the time.
The implementation of Totara Learn took about a year. Sven Kok, HRM Advisor at WML commented:
"I am quite precise when it comes to the look and feel of the academy. Together with The Courseware Company, I spent a lot of time on this. In order to encourage our WML staff to use the academy, it has to look good and attractive. We took the user experience as our starting point and asked, 'How can we make it fun and interesting for our employees?' In addition, in 2019 I think it's simply 'not done' to launch an online module that doesn't work well or has grainy pictures. That's why we opted for our own corporate identity, with logical and clear navigation, and sharp pictures."
The Current and Future Generations
WML is a 'silver-plated' organization, but the older generation also reacts positively to the WML academy. They see it as a good way of sharing their knowledge with younger employees.
Most WML staff no longer consider learning as standard in their repertoire. In addition, the younger generation utilizes other forms of learning. This is why WML will be looking closely at how the academy can best meet everyone's learning needs in the near future. For example, how do they make sure that e-learning is connected to a 55-year-old mechanic? Should they do more with blended learning or individual coaching? Think also about peer coaching or knowledge lunches. In short, WML is going to investigate various forms of learning that fit with the needs of their employees. The 'fun factor' of learning should also be taken into consideration.
Whereas the WML academy is currently mainly focused on documenting knowledge and - voluntarily - attending (soft skill) courses, Sven is working on a compulsory digital introduction program for the future.
"WML is ISO certified, which means that we have to guarantee that someone who starts with us has knowledge of all the rules and procedures. In other words, we must be able to demonstrate that new employees have completed the (online) introduction and that their manager has approved it."
The new onboarding program was delivered by Team HRM in the first quarter of 2019. As soon as a new employee has signed his or her contract, he or she will start the introduction via an onboarding app first and then also via Totara Learn. It has become a blended program, with a clear place for e-learning (in Totara Learn) and other online and offline forms of working.
"I would like to give The Courseware Company - and in particular Karin - a big compliment. They understand where we as an organization want to go and our wishes in the field of (e-)learning. As I said, I am very precise about what the system looks like and I shared my vision on it. The result is a beautiful, usable site, which also functions well in terms of performance. The Courseware Company know their implementations backwards and forwards and I can therefore recommend them positively to other organizations." –Sven Kok, HRM Advisor at WML.
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