A Mobile-Powered Learning Makeover
Temporary power generation supplier Aggreko is using mobile apps to revitalize its learning experience.
There was a time when Aggreko didn’t allow employees to take out their mobile phones during technical training sessions. However, in an effort to transition from being a training-focused organization to a learning-focused organization, we have embraced mobile apps as a fundamental part of Aggreko’s “Be Your Future” learning program.
With the understanding that collecting certificates and building compliance won’t be enough for the challenges ahead, we are focusing on delivering a dynamic learning approach to support high-performing teams. “Be Your Future” embodies continuous learning to enable our employees to efficiently overcome obstacles they’re facing in the moment and be innovative and adaptable to the requirements and pace that our customers demand.
By the end of 2018, we’re on track to offer more than 300 courses to more than 2,000 Aggreko employees across the globe through Guidebook, a mobile app creation platform.
Digitizing the Classroom Experience
While a classroom-based course is a valuable way to help master the skills necessary to deliver superior service to customers, at Aggreko, we saw opportunity to modernize. In response to industry trends, we sought new ways to use technology and create digital efficiency for improved decision making.
First, we wanted to cut down our dependency on paper. We were printing huge stacks of handouts for every training session, all of which ended up getting tossed in the recycling bin.
Aggreko leadership also recognized how useful smartphones are for schedules and course materials, so we included them as an asset in our trainings. Our thinking was that millennial and Generation Z employees, as well as many boomers, certainly have their phones with them in the field, so why take them away during training? We wanted to bring the same mobile-based operational and social behavior that we’re encouraging in the field into the classroom.
To create a classroom digital learning experience that is collaborative and engaging, we turned to Guidebook.
My Guide, Aggreko’s branded, enterprise mobile app built on the Guidebook platform, offers our employees a new way to build connections, socialize and collaborate — whether through sharing pictures or asking questions. Compared with email and texts, the app gives people one place to “Be Together” — one of Aggreko’s core values — during the learning journey.
“We are creating a new learning culture at pace, from the ground up,” said Kate Sberna, Aggreko’s vice president, global learning and talent. “And My Guide is a key enabler in bringing learning and information to our employees and meeting them where they are.”
The app also produces training environments that have the same feeling of excitement and sharing that surrounds an in-person event. To build anticipation leading up to a course, Aggreko instructors pre-populate My Guide with content, create automated posts around schedule and logistical details, and post pre-course discussion questions and other information to help employees plan and start to engage.
“I really like how My Guide allows the technicians to connect with each other and the instructor prior to the class,” said Matt Barry, Aggreko’s technical curriculum manager. “This helps build some excitement and momentum going into the class.”
Our employees also have expressed satisfaction with the new app. One shared that “You really felt connected to your fellow participants prior to, during and even after the event.”
Extending Into the Field
Aggreko’s learning journey continues beyond the classroom. All handouts and handbooks that were printed are now digital, and learning is accomplished through the My Guide app that goes with you on the job. Our employees have digital knowledge, resources and even pictures and memories from the in-app social feed, Interact, in the palm of their hand.
During the first pilot, one employee raved about not having to haul around a massive binder of training manuals while on site with customers. Instead of trying to track down information on schematics located on a piece of paper floating around their truck, workers could reference valuable resources digitally, just a few clicks away on their phones.
By empowering everyone on their own learning journey and making it easier to find an expert and be an expert, the app is sparking a change in how our employees connect, communicate and learn. One employee said, “I think [the app] engages us in what is now more natural interaction for everyone. It helped to remove communication barriers and therefore we were more invested when it came time for workshop participation.”
Mobilizing for Hurricane Relief
When Hurricane Harvey brought widespread flooding and devastation to Houston in August 2017, our team was even able to use Guidebook to create a disaster relief tool.
At the time, Aggreko’s services were in high demand, and our employees were busy with disaster recovery efforts, not only for the greater Houston area but also for our colleagues in need.
Volunteer offers from both the operational and office-based workforce were abundant, but it was becoming overwhelming to track, manage and communicate what was needed and who was available.
Already in the process of rolling out Guidebook for our global learning program, we got creative. We considered: Could we use the existing mobile app platform to quickly mobilize employees’ relief efforts?
The answer was yes. In less than three days, our team created the Be Together Houston app to mobilize, train and communicate with employee volunteers who wanted to help colleagues impacted by the storm. Like My Guide, the new app was a reflection of the “Be Together” value — asking for the best of each other and harnessing the company’s scale and diverse skills to grow stronger together.
Be Together Houston offered an easy way to efficiently organize volunteers, housing all logistics in a single location. At a glance, people could see times and locations for volunteer opportunities, like meeting at a colleague’s home to remove drywall. There was a web view in the app from the existing web page form to enable donations, and Guidebook’s Interact feed was full of pictures as employees shared their experiences helping each other.
In all, our teams truly came together. We were heartened by the positive messages in the Interact feed. It gave us the opportunity to be there for our people and for our people to be there for each other.
It also gave us the chance to uncover a learning opportunity. We were able to add a unique training element to the relief efforts, offering courses on how to make repairs. When a colleague hosted a course for a specific skill, like how to remove or hang drywall, details were shared about when and where the course was happening via the Be Together Houston app. Employees could view schedules and sign up directly in the app, as well as invite friends and family to join.
Aggreko’s Learning Center served as the emergency response headquarters during the relief efforts with the mobile app at the center of it all — a powerful tool to help everyone unite and learn while helping the community recover.
Tip of the App Iceberg
We anticipate this being only the beginning of Aggreko’s journey with mobile apps. When our senior leadership team saw the enthusiastic adoption of the new mobile apps for learning, they began creating apps for leadership events and our annual conference.
Aggreko has already seen an 80 to 100 percent reduction in print costs for every course that uses a mobile app. Overall, we expect a 50 to 60 percent decrease globally in course material printing costs by 2020, with further reductions in the future.
It also allows us to avoid costly investment in new devices for the classroom by using the devices employees already have.
Employees who complete courses with the app want more, asking for every piece of content to be digital. They see that the company takes their development seriously, which we hope will impact retention.
It’s an exciting time of digital transformation. With Guidebook, we’re investing in a smarter, more strategic way. We’re investing in our employees’ futures.
Walter Davis is global learning and talent technologies manager at Aggreko. He can be reached at CLOmedia.com.