How Tiffany & Co. Provided Their Employees with Access to Personalized On-Demand Learning
Founded in 1837, Tiffany & Co. is an iconic global luxury jeweler and specialty retailer that sells diamonds, gemstones, gold and silver jewelry, watches, sterling silver, china, crystal, fragrances, personal accessories and leather goods. Tiffany & Co. is headquartered in New York, NY with approximately 13,000 employees and more than 300 stores worldwide.
In January 2021, Tiffany & Co. was acquired by the world’s leading luxury products group, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE. It was the biggest-ever deal in the luxury sector. LVMH has 75 distinguished Maisons (brands).
This case study represents one of the four finalist submissions for phase one of i4cp's 2021 Next Practice Awards. View other Next Practice Award case studies.
Historically, Tiffany supported a traditional learning approach focused on synchronous, in-person and instructor-led training. Sessions were largely offered to the retail population targeting product knowledge, onboarding and sales training, with limited opportunities for other employees. Many functional groups were left to seek out and fund skill-based learning to support their team’s development.
Based on key data from the 2018 Employee Engagement Survey, employees indicated they wanted more opportunities to grow and develop their careers at Tiffany; this is a key driver to attract, grow and retain talent. This required a more holistic and inclusive strategy and framework, as well as a new mindset and methodology to move from “get training when and how we offer it” to “get learning when and how you need it”.
In this traditional approach, leadership development was focused on a select audience group of Managers and above through nomination only. These sessions were primarily delivered through external vendors and only when the business deemed necessary. Each year would bring new programs, new leadership language, models and tools. The result was that leadership meant something different across the organization; some leaders were given the opportunity to participate in learning and others were not given the opportunity. The ripple effect of this inequity and inconsistency was that these leaders couldn’t truly apply what they were learning and share those insights with others. Every program was a stand-alone event and lacked alignment to the company’s Strategic Priorities and Key Results, rather than building on a consistent leadership philosophy.
In early 2019, the organization evaluated its operating models and business goals. As successful as Tiffany has been for over 150 years, the current learning approach was not going to elevate the company to a luxury mega-brand (approximately $6B in annual revenue) and reach their goal of becoming the #1 Next Generation Luxury Jeweler.
Solution – Scope & Innovation
In order to achieve different results, a new approach was needed. The driving force of any successful operating model is the organizational culture. To reach the Key Results Tiffany & Co. is looking for, a Cultural Evolution was needed. In November 2019, the following Cultural Values were introduced:
A shift made with these enhanced values is indicated by the “I” statements under each Cultural Value. In the past, these explanatory statements began with “We,” which can be perceived as everyone else but “me” being responsible for execution. Additionally, an exhaustive list of behaviors was included, which are no longer shared. Simplifying these values and making a small shift from “We” to “I” created a big impact in one’s thinking of personal accountability. The Cultural Values now challenge every employee to look introspectively at how to adopt and demonstrate them daily. How an employee demonstrates each of the Cultural Values may differ depending on their role but having these values as their “North Star” is critical to executing the new approach and organizational goals.
To support these Cultural Values and address the gaps in learning opportunities, a Corporate University model was introduced to create global consistency in language, leadership, approach to learning, and to reinforce the evolved organizational culture. On March 11, 2020, Tiffany University (TiffanyU) was unveiled.
TiffanyU is a modern approach to learning and development for all Tiffany employees and is built on a Leaders at all Levels philosophy; a belief that leadership is a mindset, rather than a job title. This philosophy is grounded in self-awareness, personal accountability, having a growth mindset, continuous learning and adapting, all to help employees connect how the choices they make create a ripple effect for those around them.
The TiffanyU learning platform provides all employees with access to personalized on-demand learning, virtually facilitated experiential skill-based programs, and customized content for client-facing associates. Within TiffanyU, employees also have access to LinkedIn Learning, a dynamic platform offering more than 15,000 courses, across seven languages.
Results & Impact
Given the shifts TiffanyU created, and the timely launch at the commencement of a global pandemic, when over 90% of employees were asked to work remotely, there have been many eyes focused on its potential and effectiveness. Stakeholders, executive leaders and sponsors, managers, and employees would be curious if TiffanyU provides worthwhile impact and value, a positive return on investment, business impact, and is successful in offering learning and growth opportunities to all employees.
The measurement strategy for this program is adapted from the Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation and customized to evaluate the impact and value of the entire TiffanyU approach:
- Level 1: Reaction – evaluating whether employee expectations are met.
- Level 2: Learning – evaluating employee perception of being able to directly apply what is learned on the job through the various programs offered within TiffanyU, and engagement across the TiffanyU platform, as indication of a shift towards the intended culture of continuous learning and Leaders at all Levels philosophy.
- Level 3: Application (Behavior Change) – evaluating Return on Investment (ROI) of employee time, energy and resources.
Level 4: Business Impact – evaluating Net Promoter Score (NPS) to see how likely a participant would recommend programs to others and an increase in overall employee engagement and recognition that learning and growth opportunities are available to all employees.
In its first year since TiffanyU launched, 52% of all employees are active on TiffanyU. There have been 135,081 TiffanyU site visits from 6,941 unique viewers, and 40,073 total hours of LinkedIn Learning completed.
An organization-wide employee engagement survey was conducted in July 2020; four months after the launch of TiffanyU. This data was reviewed comparing the 2018 survey results with very positive results:
- Employee Engagement increased 3%
- Favorability towards development at Tiffany increased 6%
- The Tiffany & Co. Inclusion index increased 4%
- 4% increase in response to the question, “There are professional growth and career development opportunities for me at Tiffany.”
- 6% increase in response to the question, “I have received the information or training that I need to do my job effectively.”
- 4% increase in response to the question, “There are opportunities for me to learn and develop in my current role.” For Manufacturing and Jewelry Supply Organization, there was a 25% increase in response to this question, which is significant to the overall impact and value of TiffanyU, as prior to this Corporate University launch, there were very limited learning and development opportunities for these employees.
The launch of TiffanyU addressed the identified need for the organization to have a holistic approach to learning and leadership development, providing consistency in language and ability to focus on applying what employees learn in their roles as well as sharing those insights with others. Embedding Diversity and Inclusion throughout TiffanyU is helping to accelerate inclusion and strongly supports the evolved Cultural Values. The increase in the organization’s Inclusion Index is evidence that TiffanyU is creating a positive ripple effect. A Leaders at all Levels philosophy being connected to creating a culture of continuous learning and growth is indicating the organization is now focused on personal accountability.
The TiffanyU launch was very timely as it coincided with the onset of a global pandemic. This meant that traditional in-person training was no longer an option. With the TiffanyU structure in place, the organization was able to immediately pivot and adapt to this strategically designed platform with opportunities for employees in all regions, markets, and roles to access and engage in learning and development.
This provided the ability for all programs to swiftly shift to virtual delivery, with some programs continuing without pause or impact due to COVID-19. The impact to the work environment greatly accelerated the adoption of TiffanyU, and embedded learning and growth opportunities into all career and performance conversations, goal setting, and individual development plans.
As TiffanyU marked its first anniversary, here is a list of lessons learned and planned enhancements:
- Identify ways to keep employees regularly engaged with the TiffanyU site.
- Add additional collections to the LinkedIn Learning platform to support key initiatives.
- Provide alternatives to virtual offerings for segments of the employee population without regular access to computers.
- Add a “What’s New” section to the TiffanyU homepage as more programs are added.
- Leverage storytelling and marketing to connect TiffanyU offerings to the Leaders at all Levels Competency Model and Cultural Values.
- Provide flexibility in delivery methods as society continues to navigate unprecedented times given the global pandemic, as well as plans for integrating in-person offerings when that becomes a possibility again.