Engaging staff, improving skills and sharing knowledge will improve the bottom line - and Archant’s innovative digital Learn platform will help do all three.

"Covid has taught the world that communication is key and making employees feel included and valued drives the sense of resilience in staff that’s so needed to get through the coronavirus,” says Dee Willmott, Archant’s chief people and transformation officer.

“We’re looking at ways we can help businesses with their communication – their engagement, their recognition tactics, how managers can be better at one-to-ones, the art of communication for the team. All of those things we’re all looking at, at the moment,” she explains.

The way Archant plans to do this is by sharing its own digital learning and development platform, Archant Learn. Initially developed as a training tool, it has become part of a much wider and very successful staff-engagement strategy.

“If staff aren’t engaged, their performance goes down, sickness and absenteeism go up, staff leave... and it all comes back to the bottom line of the business,” says director of engagement Tom Kay. “When you have engaged staff, you have a more financially successful business.” Since the roll-out of Learn engaged employees, Archant has seen staff churn fall to well below the 15pc national average.

The way Learn uses technology takes it a long way from traditional training techniques. “We wanted something that was blended learning,” explains Jamie Brown, sales enablement director. “So not just in a classroom but also online, using gamification, video, interactivity... anything to make it more enjoyable for people. We knew if we did that, we’d get more people involved, they’d have fun and that would embed the learning.”

To enable all of this, a Learn app was created. There are still classroom sessions – which have been webinars under Covid – and these can be booked through the app, but it also gives access to more than 30 different modules.

“People learn in different ways,” says Mrs Willmott. “Some gravitate to a video, or a written text, or a speaker in a classroom. Learn was created to give people the learning journey of their choice – and it’s very personal. The system knows every member of staff, it knows their level of learning and the training they’ve completed and it can suggest future modules.”

It’s also adaptable to suggest things that fit into people’s day. “If I’m a salesperson and I’m between appointments with a spare half hour, I can ask Learn to give me something that lasts 20 minutes,” says Mr Brown. “I can learn that on my mobile phone, sat in my car.”

What makes Archant Learn unique is the way it can be connected to other systems in the business, to monitor performance levels, such as sales activity or customer satisfaction, as well as key metrics like sickness rates. "We can see how much people have retained - and when they're not putting it into practice, we can go back and offer them other ways of learning,” says Mr Kay.

The Learn platform can be applied to any business area – but it began with getting people up to speed on digital business. “The process consumers go through to buy goods and services hasn’t changed, but it has largely gone online,” says Mr Brown. “We gravitate to companies we're aware of, we probably do some research, we draw up a shortlist and then we buy.

“We created this infrastructure to make sure our customers’ businesses use every opportunity in this new online journey to purchase,” he says.

“The majority of our customers are small businesses, the lifeblood of their communities,” points out Mr Kay. “That’s why we say we build communities. We are genuinely trying to help our customers by empowering them with our knowledge and expertise.”

“Archant Learn is about the employee experience being better, because investing in learning and development retains staff and makes the business more successful,” concludes Mrs Willmott. “This completely dovetails with our purpose of building communities and helping them stay strong and robust, by understanding digital marketing in 2020.”

For more information about Archant Learn, contact Tom.Kay@Archant.co.uk