TRANE TECHNOLOGIES UNIVERSITY: BUILDING A NEW REPUTATION WITH EMPLOYEES THROUGH MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS
By Jennefer Pierce, Enterprise Learning Initiatives Leader, Trane Technologies University
At Trane Technologies, we often say that we run learning and development (L&D) as a business. We develop learning products for customers, our 36,000-plus employees, in alignment with our business purpose and initiatives. From learning need to concept to execution, our highly skilled team delivers quality learning solutions to accelerate development and perpetuate our culture.
But that wasn’t always the case. In 2020, before we split from Ingersoll Rand and launched as Trane Technologies, we found employees who were not already enrolled in key talent or leadership development programs only knew us as “the annual compliance” department. Their perception had nothing to do with the quality or quantity of the learning we offered; rather, it was the lack of awareness about what was available. Customers don’t buy products they don’t know about.
So as Trane Technologies developed an ambitious purpose, bold strategies, and a compelling brand, we used it as an opportunity to rebrand our own learning offerings within the organization.
Our first step to rebranding our learning and development organization, known internally as Trane Technologies University, was to do away with any custom logos, imagery, and various program names. Instead, we created new templates to support the enterprise brand, which made our learning products look more connected to the company overall.
Branding is more about just fonts and icons, though. We needed to enhance our reputation with the employees who only took compliance courses once a year. We wanted Trane Technologies University to become synonymous with professional career growth and opportunities for all employees, not just people leaders and key talent. We began positioning ourselves in alignment with one of our 2030 Sustainability Commitments: Opportunity for All. But how to get that message across? We started by looking at our target audiences and potential communication channels.
Audience and Channels
In the spirit of running our learning program like a business, we took a page out of our product management handbook and began segmenting our target audiences. Arranging our employees in groups such as hourly plant workers, technicians, corporate individual contributors, people leaders, etc., made it easier for us to define what those audiences cared about.
From there, we identified key drivers that would resonate with each group. For example, “I feel enabled to coach and develop my team” for our people leaders; and “My company supports my future career growth” for our individual contributors. These drivers would become underlying themes in our communications to those groups going forward.
We also identified how we would reach each of these audiences. Where were the existing opportunities to share our messages and where were the gaps? This included digital channels such as direct e-mails and ad banners in our learning management system (LMS), as well as in-person channels such as our global and departmental town hall meetings.
To broaden our reach, we worked closely with our digital communications team to create Grow You, a channel on our enterprise intranet platform that made it easy to connect and engage with our learners in real-time.
Collaboration and Alignment
At this point, we had the who—each of our target audiences; the where—the channels we would use to reach them; and the why—the key drivers for each of these groups.
Now we needed the what and the when. We had a lot of top-tier learning content, but opening the flood gates to share it all wasn’t a good strategy. Good learning is about giving learners what they need at the right time.
We created a campaign calendar with global events such as Women’s History and Black History months, PRIDE, and Earth Day, as well as key company processes including goal-setting, development planning, and performance reviews.
In addition, our team was made privy to upcoming initiative rollouts and events by leveraging the strong relationships and meeting structures already in place with our key partners in senior leadership, global HR, functional learning, and communications.
With visibility to everything happening in the organization, we were able to map our existing learning to the campaign calendar and market learning at the right time in the flow of work. When our organization celebrated Women’s History Month, we advertised our Gender Equality Learning Path to all employees. When it’s time for development planning, we market our Aspiring Leader Learning Journey to individual contributors on Grow You.
Tracking Our Success
When we created our marketing and communications strategy, we outlined a number of goals to measure whether we were able to enhance the reputation of Trane Technologies University with our employees:
- Increase employee awareness of learning and growth opportunities.
- Increase enterprise learning reach through new and existing channels.
- Boost usage and engagement in our corporate learning offerings.
As part of our Trane Technologies employee experience, we’re committed to helping our team members thrive at work and at home, including learning and development solutions designed to help our people as they connect and grow.
Since implementing our strategy, we have seen year-over-year growth from 80 to 82 in the engagement score question, “I have opportunities to learn and grow.” The number of Grow You channel followers has increased by more than 1,500 employees since its inception. We’ve also seen a steady increase in the usage of marketed courses and a 32 percent year-over-year increase in the number of unique users utilizing Skillsoft Percipio, our preferred skill-based learning platform.
FORGETTING THE FORGETTING CURVE WITH KNOWLEDGE-BASED LEARNING
By Devon Metzger McDonald, Training Content Development Manager, Transworld Systems Incorporated
In an age when the sum of human knowledge is accessible at our fingertips, is it possible that the “forgetting curve” is an antiquated concept?
The forgetting curve was first described by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus in the late 19th century. He studied how humans learn and retain information over time.
Ebbinghaus found that forgetting occurs rapidly in the first few hours after learning and then levels off over time. He plotted his results on a curve, which showed a steep drop in recall during the first hour or so, followed by a more gradual decline in memory over the next few days. This curve, commonly cited in the Learning and Development (L&D) industry for more than a century, is known as the forgetting curve (Ebbinghaus, H. (1885). Uber das Gedächtnis: Untersuchungen zur experimentellen Psychologie (Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology). Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot.).
Throughout the many years since the forgetting curve was identified, academics and Learning professionals have sought ways to flatten the curve. In the late 1970s, when the digital age was merely a dream, studies began to show that people tend to forget information much less rapidly when there is an opportunity to review the information at regular intervals (Landauer, T. K., & Bjork, R. A. (1978). The retention of practiced knowledge: Theoretical issues and applications. Cognitive Psychology, 10(4), 479-508.).
Curated Knowledge Repository
Now, nearly 150 years since the curve was identified, we have both the technology and the methodology to forget the forgetting curve. The solution is found in a synergistic system involving traditional learning combined with a carefully curated knowledge repository.
Research has shown that learners in a corporate environment who used a knowledge repository to review information after a training session retained more information than those who did not use the repository, and learners who used the knowledge repository had higher learning performance than those who did not (Wang, Q., Chen, W., & Liang, Y. (2014). Using a knowledge repository to improve learning retention in a corporate training setting. Computers & Education, 72, 214-225.).
One of the most widely referenced studies found that a group of learners who had access to a knowledge repository retained 25 percent more knowledge than the control group when assessed five weeks after graduating from the initial training (Chiu, Y. C., & Tseng, S. S. (2014). Exploring the relationship between knowledge repository use and learning performance. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 17(2), 27-38.).
In addition to the numerical data, the authors of this study also found that the use of a knowledge repository had a number of other benefits, including:
- Increased learner satisfaction
- Reduced training costs
- Improved employee productivity
TSI’s Knowledge Repository
It’s important to note that not all knowledge repositories are created equally. As the largest provider of analytics and technology-enabled Accounts Receivable Management (ARM) and Customer Experience/Business Process Outsourcing (CX-BPO) in the United States and Canada, Transworld Systems Incorporated (TSI) required a knowledge repository that allowed employees in a number of divergent entities to quickly access the resources that were most relevant to their roles and responsibilities. TSI’s Talent Development Team answered the call by creating a robust intranet Website with more than 1,000 individual client and line-of-business pages. Each page takes the form of a quick reference guide, a wiki, an interactive flip book, a tube site of videos, or even a user-driven simulation. This repository is frequently cited by TSI’s leaders as a primary contributor to the organization’s ability to maintain an attrition rate of under 10 percent, which is less than one-third of the industry average for ARM and CXBPO organizations.
Regardless of the organization’s size or the number of needed pages, a successful knowledge repository must serve function over form, with the most frequently needed information available to the learner with the least number of clicks. Organizations whose employees cite the company’s repository as “very useful” often leverage tools and widgets that evaluate and report on the repository pages that are accessed most frequently, along with identifying and optimizing the pages on which employees spend the most time.
Information control is paramount to ensure that the available resources are up-to-date and trustworthy. Resources on a knowledge repository must be approved by subject matter experts and reviewed no less than annually. Similarly, the organization must have the ability to update the repository at the speed of business.
Full-Circle Learning Ecosystem
Returning to our goal of forgetting the forgetting curve, employees can possess nearly limitless knowledge retention when provided a full-circle learning ecosystem wherein they learn to use a knowledge repository beginning on their first day of new hire training.
To accomplish this, it is critical that for every topic covered in new hire training, there is a related resource created in the knowledge repository. A new hire landing page can take the place of the traditional training manual. This allows trainers to refer to the knowledge repository early and often during new hire training. In place of traditional knowledge checks, learners can participate in gamification scavenger hunts, locating answers in the knowledge repository, and reinforcing their ability to access the most critical information.
A Competitive Advantage
Through this methodology, learners not only acquire knowledge and skills, but also the ability to navigate and reinforce their knowledge with information available when it is needed most on the job. The added competence and confidence employees acquire through resource-driven training is undeniably beneficial to an organization’s ability to succeed; organizations with a knowledge management strategy in place are 30 percent more likely to exceed their revenue goals (Forrester Research. (2021) The State of Knowledge Management: A Global Survey)
At the advent of the global pandemic, many organizations were forced to examine and shift toward digital training solutions. When an organization maintains a strong and engaging knowledge repository, digital training moves away from being a necessary solution to shift toward becoming a competitive advantage.