Learning COVID-19 Recording: Mondelez International's Brooke Finlayson (Normoyle) - 6/11/20

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 again hosted a special guest: Brooke Finlayson, Chief Learning Officer at Mondelēz International, a fascinating company with 80,000 employees and best known for snack brands such as Oreos, Ritz, Toblerone, Tang, and many more. Finlayson was interviewed by i4cp CEO and co-founder Kevin Oakes, and we also shared fresh pulse survey data on organizations’ employee reboarding processes. Here are four key themes that emerged:

  1. L&D has important connections with other talent and HR processes. Finlayson’s role at Mondelēz includes both L&D and performance management, a combination which speaks to the important connection between the two areas. She noted that in recent years they have evolved their approach to PM to be more conversation-centric, and have made sure that learning, development, careers, etc. are part of conversations between managers and their employees. They have evolved the technology used to support this, and while they still have key reviews at the half-year and full-year milestones, they have created a performance feedback culture where managers now give more timely feedback closer to key events, projects, etc. As a global firm, there have been some cultural challenges to making this shift in some regions, so Finlayson’s team needed to meet leaders where they were, and script out the new process to some extent.
  2. L&D can both leverage existing resources while adapting quickly to employees’ needs. Many organizations had at least some learning resources relevant to critical topics arising in the past several months. That was the case at Mondelēz, but they also realized that some of the materials needed to be adjusted in various ways, such as reducing the length from a 90-minute work-from-home module to providing the essentials in only 30-45 minutes (additional resources were then provided for those that wanted more). As discussed on previous calls, Finlayson’s team also needed to be comfortable emphasizing speed and agility over perfection. Doing so allowed them to quickly roll out a key program spanning 110 sessions, in 11 languages, for over 7,500 employees.
  3. Reboarding is ramping up, but is a very intentional process at most organizations. The most recent i4cp pulse survey focused on “reboarding,” i.e., how best to bring back employees to the traditional workplace who have either been working from home or were furloughed. The survey indicated that close to half (45%) are doing this now, with 21% already having completed the process, and another 19% planning for the process coming soon. HR is not surprisingly very often in a lead role in this process (53%), or at least playing a prominent role on a task force that also includes regional leaders, business unit leaders, facilities, corporate communications, and for some organizations, leaders from legal, risk and operations as well. When asked what actions organizations are taking to ensure an effective reboarding process, the most common practice was providing a return to the workplace playbook or similar resource (80%), followed by providing training on new safety measures (74%). Two additional L&D actions were indicated by less than half of respondents, including upskilling leaders (e.g., soft skills enhancement such as coaching, active listening, conflict resolution, etc.) to help their teams navigate the new normal (42%) and training all managers to recognize and address signs of stress among their direct reports (29%).
  4. Oreo cookies have been a critical snack during the pandemic. In a very unscientific poll, we asked call participants which of ten different Mondelēz International (USA-centric) snack products they had consumed at least once during the COVID-19 pandemic period so far. The run-away leader was Oreos cookies, followed by Philadelphia cream cheese and Wheat Thins crackers. Based on the discussion in the call’s chat, double-stuff and mint-flavored are two very popular types of Oreos, and a few people were delighted to learn for the first time that there are over a dozen different types!

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