Learning COVID-19 Recording: Visa's Karie Willyerd & McDonald's Rob Lauber 4-02-20

In response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and its unprecedented impact to business and employers, i4cp holds a weekly series of standing calls to help Learning and Development leaders navigate this unpredictable time.

This week’s Learning and Development action call hosted two special guests, both member’s of i4cp’s Chief Learning and Talent Officer Board: Rob Lauber, CLO of McDonald’s and Karie Wilyerd, CLO of Visa. They were interviewed by i4cp’s CEO Kevin Oakes, and new survey data on user-generated learning content was also presented—here are four key themes that emerged.

1.       Job role shifts and employee sharing provide immediate benefits and learning opportunities. While many employees are continuing to do their jobs just from a different location (at home), at some organizations tasks have shifted to accommodate surge activities. Rob Lauber noted that many in his L&D organization at McDonald’s have temporarily been switched from regular duties to helping support the general HR hotline. More broadly, in some regions (notably in Germany) McDonald’s has entered into a employee sharing partnership with Aldi grocery stores. McDonald’s has nearly 1,500 outlets in Germany, but during this COVID-19 pandemic, they do not have enough work hours to give their employees—whereas a grocer like Aldi has seen a surge in business given the massive demand for at-home food. Under the agreement, McDonald’s employees are specifically referred to Aldi on a temporary basis and can return to McDonald’s after the assignment.

While learning and development goals were not the main goal of either of these job-switching arrangements, it will no doubt be a side benefit arising from both. It could also lead to more permanent job rotation partnerships between McDonald’s and other companies in the future, given the same, similar, and adjacent skills between their restaurant positions and many others in retail, or amongst their supply chain, Lauber noted. This sort of approach aligns with McDonald’s proud history of being an early career platform for workers, that includes ongoing investment in their Archways to Opportunity program that includes second language programs, pay for online accredited high-school degrees, and higher-ed tuition assistance for many employees (over 50,000 thus far).

2.       Increased interest in virtual classroom and mobile learning options. As noted on prior weeks’ calls, there is clearly an increased interest in virtual classroom training. Lauber from McDonald’s noted that some in-person instructor-led training has simply been canceled for now, but that some programs are being shifted to virtual. Mobile device content is also important with such a dispersed workforce around the globe.

At Visa, Wilyerd noted that any remaining resistance to virtual classroom delivery is being chipped away by the COVID-19 pandemic. They were already looking for virtual solutions for some key training programs, and such approaches will only expand.

3.       Interest in user-generated learning content is increasing. i4cp conducted a pulse survey recently on user-generated learning content. Nearly three in ten respondents indicated their organization’s were big proponents, with another 15% indicated they are interested but struggle to get employees interested. The COVID-19 pandemic it seems will increase those numbers, as nearly one in five respondents indicated their organization is already leveraging user-generated learning content more during this time period, and another 25% said they plan to do so soon. Lauber from McDonald’s noted some of the same challenges to such content that came out in the survey, from lack of consistency, concern over incorrect information, etc., but also noted that in time such issues can be lessened through the right governance structures and partnering L&D professionals with the employee community to maximize content quality, timeliness, and volume.  

4.       Curation is key. Wilyerd is currently the CLO at Visa, but she has a long history with user-generated learning content, having been the leader of the Jambok product that eventually became SAP Jam. She noted that one issue with both standard self-paced learning content (courses, videos, etc.) and user-generated content is the sheer volume that is available. At Visa they are upgrading their Learning Experience Platform (LXP) to Degreed and focusing on reducing the number of learning pathways that organize their 90,000+ learning objects. To Lauber’s points earlier, they also have strong governance structures before content is posted to the company-wide catalog.

In addition to the recording above, please see the many resources at our i4cp Coronavirus Employer Resource Center.