Barilla management recruits learn to fly
Cegos and Barilla recently won Gold in the prestigious Brandon Hall Excellence Awards for ‘Best Advance in Employee Engagement’. Here, I tell the story of how Cegos’ team helped Barilla build valuable soft skills across their workforce.
Loyalty is important to Barilla – the Italian family-owned food company. They work to build that loyalty from the very beginning of a relationship. Where better to start than during the onboarding process.
Barilla approached Cegos back in 2017 to create an induction programme. The aim was to prepare young professionals and other newcomers for future management opportunities. The company wanted to instil its values into new recruits, promote better engagement, encourage long-term retention and increase productivity.
After exploring different options, we jointly created a program called Learn to Fly. It is a blend of face-to-face and virtual learning that helps people develop personal effectiveness, as well as communication, relationship and decision-making skills.
The program needed to meet two core objectives:
- Strengthen the relationship and analytical skills of employees to help them solve problems and make decisions more efficiently.
- Develop a digital learning process that involves participants in a continuous and blended learning experience.
It also had to reflect the company values and purpose, captured in their motto: “Good for You, Good for the Planet.” Participants were encouraged to be the change they want to see, inspired by passion, intellectual curiosity and diversity. This meant living the Barilla values with authenticity. These values were embedded in the participants’ professional training path and practised in their day-to-day jobs.
The program takes off
Over the last three years, we have developed Learn to Fly and rolled it out to over 500 people across nine countries in Europe and America.
The results have been overwhelmingly positive. When participants evaluated their experience of the program internally, they recorded an accumulated satisfaction rate of 4.2/5. This score is considered outstanding for Barilla. It established a strong benchmark for other learning and development initiatives. About 84% of the respondents stated the program was very good or excellent, with 38% giving it a top score.
The contents of the course were well utilised. Participants commented on how useful their new-found skills were in the workplace. Reading feedback sheets we see participants stating that the program helped them “to learn a new method of communication which helps me gain consistent results in my work and personal life.”
The program has since become well known among the whole Barilla community. Participants now share a common language through having taken the course.
What was it about Learn to Fly that worked so well? Barilla is also known over the world for its delicious sauces. So was there a ‘secret sauce’ within the program that created so much satisfaction?
Several elements came together that contributed towards the success of Learn to Fly.
- The general design revolved around an effective blended model. It ensured participants' engagement right from the beginning. Top-class content was delivered through live and asynchronous modalities. It also included opportunities for interaction and a clear journey of workplace transfer embedded into the digital platform. In addition, the whole experience is paper free, which appeals to Barilla’s environmentally friendly credentials.
- A central corporate structure was created through collaboration among the HR Director, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Chief R&D Officer and President of the American Region.
This was critical to establishing global alignment of the induction process. It conveyed a consistent cultural language throughout the program. It also helped Barilla harmonise and stabilise resourcing and recruiting processes on a global scale.
- Learn to Fly is standardised across the world. The program is the same in each country, including all training materials (slideshows, drills and exercises), which are in English. However, content can be adapted to the local language and culture when needed.
One of the unexpected outcomes of the program was how quickly it grew. Initially designed as an induction program for new hires, Learn to Fly was extended to people who had been with the company for a few years.
The virtual training proved to be popular, too. In fact, it became something of a godsend during lockdowns, as it meant we could continue to deliver the program uninterrupted.
Such was the success of the program. Barilla served it as the case study that lead to Brandon Hall’s Gold award for ‘Best Advance in Employee Engagement’.