L&D Best Practices: Strategies for Success (June 2022)

Training magazine taps 2022 Training APEX Awards winners and Training Hall of Famers to provide their learning and development best practices in each issue. Here, we look at how HD Supply upskills its virtual offerings with a multifaceted learning program.

HD Supply Upskills Virtual Offerings with a Multifaceted Learning Program

Like many organizations and other practitioners, due to the pandemic, HD Supply was forced to transform its originally slated in-person programs into the virtual world. Having to pivot quickly seemed to be challenging at first. However, we were easily able to create a replicable process that we wanted to share with other practitioners who may be looking to now reach new audiences and upskill their traditional virtual learning.

As part of our internal operations distribution center training, we knew this set of leaders were a unique audience. They spend much of their time on the floor troubleshooting issues, managing employee relations and daily operations. They are fast paced and methodical; time is of the essence for them. Taking them off of the floor for a few days seemed less of a challenge than engaging them for an entire quarter, but that is the approach we took, and it worked.

Program Details

We used micro-earnings ranging from 5- to 30-minute chunks of time. We balanced the types of interactions and the timing—both the amount spent and the actual timing of the interactions with our leaders’ schedules. We held participants accountable for their own learning and development in this multi-mode learning program. We also leveraged our senior leaders throughout the program, created a leader-led program, and engaged with external partners.

Since we knew we wanted to spread out the learnings over the course of a quarter, we determined we wanted to stay around the 10-hour mark per quarter for learning hours. With that in mind, we knew we were going to have to get buy-in from learners from the beginning. To do this, we held a kickoff call with all 200-plus leaders, introduced the program, and gave them the opportunity to name it. Dozens of names were summited and, ultimately, we had our senior leaders select the name: Championship Tools Program.

The structure of the program itself consisted of embracing multi-modes for learning, including:

  • Live virtual sessions offered multiple times a day to hit the different time zones and shifts
  • Pre-/post-assessments to measure learning and weekly microlearnings consisting of videos, articles, resources, and activities
  • Weekly check-ins led by local leaders at the Distribution Center level
  • Monthly regional check-ins led by regional leadership to share best practices
  • Full-team quarterly check-ins led by senior leaders and our Learning partners to recap the learning, discuss internal resources that support their learnings, and introduce the next quarter’s topic and roadmap

This sounds like a lot, but we were able to keep everyone on track by creating a quarterly roadmap that outlined weekly actions and sending out weekly communications from our Learning team that provided recaps and overviews of what was completed in previous weeks, as well as the upcoming weekly action with direct embed links to online learning. In addition, we tracked usage and completions on a weekly and monthly basis and shared the data with senior leaders, adjusting our approach based on the progress from the team.

As far as the content goes, we are a small but mighty team, but with other business priorities, we ended up partnering with a large external vendor for curated content. We found one that offered yearly licenses at a reasonable rate, so we could create a program that tackled four major learning gaps of the nine that we identified at the beginning of the program buildout.  Since the content from this vendor couldn’t be tailored to meet our audience, we supplemented it with our own internal content, processes, and resources. It took extra time on our part, but it was critical to the adoption and usage. With this library of content, we were able to provide our learners with additional learning opportunities outside of our quarterly structured activities. Leaders were eager to learn more than we captured in our initial scope, but they had the ability to learn about additional leadership or personal development topics at their own pace as their schedules allowed.


How do we know it was worth the investment? At the beginning of the program during the analysis phase, we identified measures that would let us know we made an impact for each individual quarterly topic. For our Coaching topic, we witnessed improvement in many areas including:

  • Turnover (2.2 percent decrease)
  • Participation in our Performance Management process (12 percent increase in completions)
  • Promotions (three promotions immediately following program topic)
  • Reason for leaving the organization in exit interviews (zero responses attributed to lack of career development)

In addition, our learners increased their comfortability utilizing our Coaching & Feedback model, as well as prioritized these coaching conversations with their team members.

All in all, our leaders were impressed with the program and its results. Our learners appreciated and valued it, too. Leaders enjoyed the program structure, interactive activities, opportunities to learn from one other, and the digestible size of content.


If I can encourage other practitioners to do one thing, it would be to stretch your imagination. Priorities have changed. The way we do work has changed. Learning has to change, too. Push the envelope within your organizations and replicate some of these best practices shared in this article. The only thing holding you back at this point is how much innovation you want to try and embed.

Alanna Dingler and Jeannie Sullivan
Alanna Dingler is manager, Learning, at 2023 Training APEX Award winner HD Supply, Inc. Jeannie Sullivan is a Learning Experience Designer at 2023 Training APEX Award winner Veeam Sales Acceleration.