e-Learning Pilot Breeds Training Success for 400-unit PizzaExpress

By Pui Ho, Head of Training and Development, PizzaExpress | February 10, 2011

PizzaExpress has deliberately fostered a culture of learning and achievement, with the belief that people are at the heart of the company’s success. At a company like this, anything is possible; HR director Julie MacDonald started as a waitress at the company 17 years ago and many other senior staff progressed from entry level positions. Actively encouraging innovation, talent and achievement requires an individual approach to training rather than a ‘one size fits all.’ But with close to 400 sites across the UK and just under 10,000 employees, this is no small undertaking.
 
PizzaExpress’ estate is vast – from Inverness to Jersey, as well as sites in Ireland. With so many shift workers, flexibility and accessibility are crucial to training success. This is where e-learning has a huge advantage, with benefits including a clear audit trail and automated reporting functions. What’s more, e-learning is also a cost-effective approach, alongside reducing the burden of paperwork often associated with administering training. 
 
Another crucial factor is the ability to deliver consistent training across the organization. While each person has a different learning style, the value that PizzaExpress places on its staff and the uniqueness of its business culture requires training to reinforce this message. This consistency is crucial and helps to reinforce the company ethos, enabling PizzaExpress to calibrate new recruits to the company’s working culture.
 
Getting the fit right
With something as crucial as staff training, it is essential to find a supplier whose approach fits with the needs of the business and its employees. An organization like PizzaExpress needed a company who understood that training is not just about ticking boxes to remain compliant. PizzaExpress went through a lengthy period of consultation and market analysis to find an e-learning partner, needing one who could help the company to overcome the barrier that a lack of IT infrastructure presents – something that is often a factor for hospitality businesses. Selecting ThirdForce helped PizzaExpress to meet these objectives, via the company’s sector knowledge, the courses tailored to PizzaExpress’ needs, and their ability to supply the suitable hardware pre-loaded with the relevant courses.  
 
PizzaExpress piloted e-learning throughout 36 of its sites with great success. In the first two months of the pilot program, 83 courses were completed. Instead of touching a few people with face-to-face training, PizzaExpress can now reach employees across the UK, helping to build knowledge and provide appropriate training and development.
 
PizzaExpress’ business is constantly growing and expanding. The company’s employees will continue to be at the heart of the business and training will continue to be at the heart of their success. When you can get this right, training not only becomes streamlined and more effective, but weathering any hard time gets easier.
 
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