Learning COVID-19 Recording: Starbucks' Molly Hill & Kaiser Permanente's Dan Cousins - 5/14/20

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 two special guests: Molly Hill, Vice President, Global Talent at Starbucks, and Dan Cousins, Vice President, Talent and Organizational Performance at Kaiser Permanente. They were interviewed by Kevin Oakes, CEO and co-founder of the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). Here are four key themes that emerged:

1.     Using an informal learning approach has been a major pivot for Starbucks. A major shift towards informal, discussion-driven learning began back in May of 2018, when Starbucks closed all locations to conduct bias training. Hill noted that the approach is neither traditional instructor-led training nor self-paced e-Learning. Rather, store partners gather around iPads to view videos together, and then an online facilitator guides discussion on the topic. This approach has been used for many learning topics, with measurement of effectiveness shifting away from a compliance mindset towards measuring engagement in what they call “Third Place Discussions.”

2.     L&D is very focused on developing “return to the workplace” training and resources. We polled participants on the call about whether their organization’s L&D team has started developing new learning resources for a “return to the workplace” phase. 55% said yes, and another 36% said they were planning or talking about doing so. A great example of this came from Hill at Starbucks, as they are working to reopen their many store locations beyond drive-thru operations only. The latest iteration of their informal learning approach is their “Homecoming” return to the workplace program, which goes by the name “Connecting to Our Purpose Together.” One variation from the approach described above is the use of audio content instead of videos, as partners cannot gather closely together around iPads given the current need for physical distancing. A two-day program, day 1 focuses on empathy, the common thread of the partner journey, shared experiences, and even fears involved in returning to the workplace. Day 2 has a more operational focus, covering safety procedures, health check procedures, and store format changes.

3.     The need to maintain development momentum while emphasizing new areas such as well-being. Kaiser-Permanente is both a healthcare plan and direct healthcare provider, serving over 12 million members and with over 220,000 employees (over 300,000 including doctors, nurses, etc.). Critical employees involved in the delivery of care have of course been very busy over the past several months, and this meant pausing any training and development initiatives they were involved in. Initially the thinking was that their programs would simply be on pause, and would resume again say in September. But Cousins said they have realized now that aspects of some programs need to change, such as more focus on equiping managers with skills on how to address employees’ holistic well-being. (This is also the topic of an extensive new i4cp report released this week and available to all: Next Practices of Holistic Well-Being.)

4.     Creating an environment and culture of psychological safety is very important. Cousins noted another key aspect of their programs is to support their organization’s strong culture of psychological safety and support for “speaking up.” He noted that their speaking up index is the most powerful predictor they have of better performance outcomes, including even tangible results like fewer accidents. One concern is that during this pandemic crisis fear or other issues might lead to less speaking up, so the team is staying focused on this.

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