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How Town & Country Markets Established a Learning Culture in 10 Months

Town & Country Markets Learning Culture
Written by Rachel Torres

If you’ve ever spent time in the Seattle area, you probably know the grocery stores operated by Town & Country Markets, the fresh markets for people who love food. With roots going back to 1957, this regional, locally owned and operated, independent retail grocery company has built a culture around strong core values. T&C Markets has been a Grovo customer since 2016, and as the company grew going into 2018, they knew it was time to relaunch their Learning & Development program, The Learning Compass, to cement the company’s values further.

We spoke with Nicki Sunwall, Learning & Development Manager and Skye Tucker, Learning & Development Coordinator to find out how, in just 10 months, they re-launched The Learning Compass as a core part of the employee experience at T&C Markets.

Here’s what we learned from their insights:

1. Build your own foundation first

Many customers introduce Grovo to build the foundation for a learning culture across their organization. But what about the foundation for how work gets done within the L&D function, before an employee ever sees their first Microlearning lesson?

Nicki and Skye collaborated with their peers in Marketing to workshop and document the guiding principles for The Learning Compass relaunch. A cross between a mission/vision document and brand guide, their guiding principles cover the program’s purpose, look and feel, visual standards for imagery, fonts and colors, as well as requirements and processes for working with internal subject matter experts. It’s lightweight, practical and helps them stay on brand as they quickly create and customize Grovo Microlearning lessons.

Says Skye, “We almost exclusively use Grovo’s Create tool to make our own lessons or customize the off-the-shelf lessons from the Grovo Library. No matter what, we want our voice in it, so we use this doc to make sure every lesson reflects our principles of fun, enhancing personal growth, connection to learning and each other, and relevance to people’s jobs.

2. Create tool as a bridge to culture

T&C Markets has high standards for all learning content to reflect the real life culture of the retailer. Whether creating their own lessons or occasionally customizing an off-the-shelf Grovo lesson with their own brand look and feel, or T&C Markets-specific information, Nicki says, “the Create tool really lets us personalize content. Our employees appreciate that lessons feel like our own culture and values.”

With nearly 90% of learners engaged, and more than 12K lesson views in the last three months, it’s clear that the care and attention Nicki and Skye apply to content production is driving learner engagement.

Nicki and Skye often collaborate with internal subject matter experts and senior leadership to create the most effective content, including featuring these internal leaders in the videos and photography they use to create engaging Microlearning lessons.

Says Skye, “Seeing their peers and bosses in the lessons is great for new hires, and for people who have been there for decades. It makes the whole company feel accessible. For example, a senior leader might not always be in a given market location, but once they do go out, the location staff already feel like they know them a bit. It’s creating a bridge for sure.”

3. Focus less on the “micro” and more on the “learning”

As Grovo’s Chief Learning Officer Summer Salomonsen has noted, people often define Microlearning by its brevity, when it’s really about sharp, modern learning with lessons that focus on a single concept at a time. Skye agrees, saying, “When you’re creating effective Microlearning, don’t make your box too small. Don’t say, oh, it needs to be max five minutes. Instead, think about the one thing that you are really trying to communicate, and then create your lesson tailored to that.”

4. Listen to your learners

Nicki and Skye have engineered The Learning Compass from the beginning to accommodate and reflect employee feedback. When they visit markets for other meetings or events, they’re sure to check in with employees about their experiences with the online training. They also run surveys to collect feedback directly from specific groups. They also created a “Feedback and Requests” lesson that links out to their ongoing survey, and they made it the featured lesson on the learners’ Grovo home screen, so it’s always accessible.

Nicki says, “One of my biggest pieces of advice for other admins is to really listen to employee feedback. A lot of what we’ve done successfully is because we’ve tailored our program in response to what the employees told us.”

5. Be realistic and flexible to meet your goals

Nicki and Skye set out goals from the beginning for the Learning Compass, including onboarding 100% of employees within a year of launch to their company’s core values. At 91% of employees onboarded in 10 months, they are well on track.

To best meet their overarching goal, they’ve stayed agile with their weekly learning campaigns for leadership and twice-a-month campaigns for individual contributors.

“Flexibility is really important,” says Nicki. “When you’re creating content, there’s not a single unique way that the lesson has to be. Sometimes you just need to change your focus based on what’s going on in the company.”

Skye adds, “Whatever time you think it’s going to take you to create great Microlearning content, tack on a couple of hours to your estimate for planning. You want to allow time to deliver something you’re proud of, not just to check the box and say, ‘here’s another lesson.’ Pause and think, what do you really want to deliver to learners? That’s drives learner engagement.”

Stay ahead of what’s next

2018 was all about framing the big picture for employees by onboarding them to the core values. Next year, Nicki and Skye are looking to dig deeper with the 13 departments in each market to create learning that shares those insights with all employees to help them improve in their roles and take on new ones. Says Nicki, “We’ve driven more consistent communication for everyone. Our markets are spread out. With Grovo, it’s easier to relay important messages, and foster company-wide conversations.”

Looking back at what they’ve achieved in just 10 months from re-launching The Learning Compass, Nicki says, “Learning is now a norm at Town & Country Markets. We made it past the hump, and Grovo is an integral part of our commitment to make learning accessible to all employees.

Interested in seeing an example of Town & Country Markets custom Microlearning lessons? Check out “Core Values: Environmental Stewardship.

To see how other L&D teams are customizing learning for their employees, join our webinar on November 8 to get expert tips on using the Create tool so your employees can learn anywhere, any time. Save your spot now