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How Thomas Thor created a culture of continual learning engagement
The world of recruitment moves fast. Companies are dealing with a constant cycle of candidate identification and selection on one hand, while battling macroeconomic elements on the other. It’s a fine line that needs teams equipped to deliver results whatever the weather with an agility to react quickly when the circumstances dictate.
Introducing the Thomas Thor Academy – a scaleable, digital platform to support staff learning and development
Nowhere was this more evident than with Thomas Thor. It provides recruitment, executive search and consulting services to the global nuclear industry and major infrastructure projects worldwide. Its clients include nuclear regulators, operators, engineering and construction companies, equipment manufacturers and research organizations.
But servicing complex clients doesn’t require complex systems. So when it needed to create something that could effectively onboard new joiners and train its staff on vital compliance and regulatory information, we helped it create the Thomas Thor Academy – a scaleable, digital platform to support staff learning and development.
Rapid delivery of knowledge to keep up with the speed of change in the industry
With teams located in offices all over the world, and clients spread far and wide, the network of Thomas Thor is vast. Staff are constantly dealing with differing time zones, geographies, languages and schedules, the combination of which was making it incredibly tough to find consistency when it came to staff learning. When you add in the speed of change within the industries Thomas Thor services and the issue of market rules and regulations varying from region to region, it’s easy to see how staff at Thomas Thor could struggle to keep pace.
Commenting on the situation, James Ball, operations director of HR & L&D, said:
“Because of the multitude of areas we work in – both geographically and industrially – we were not looking to build a standard learning management system (LMS), more of a staff engagement system. It had to have learning and training at its core but allow people the freedom to be interested in different things and develop in different ways.”
What was key to Thomas Thor was not building a rigid ‘one-size to fit all’ platform, but a ‘one size to suit all’. It needed a system that gave staff the autonomy to learn at a pace and time that suits the individual, while ensuring Thomas Thor maintained control of the learning content.
A simple solution employees can get on board with quickly
Building a suitable platform was only half the challenge, too. Thomas Thor has, like many companies, experienced problems in the past with new technology adoption – reticence, apathy and complexity, all factors in limiting employee uptake.
In that regard, it was critical that this project not only avoided making the same mistakes of the past, but actively bucked the trend when it came to encouraging employee engagement. With that in mind, the strategy for Thomas Thor was simple but effective – to drip feed content onto the platform so as not to overwhelm staff and get them used to a new system while keeping their focus and attention, gradually expanding the content available.
Bringing people together to create a culture of learning
For a company with offices all over the world, the Thomas Thor Academy brought teams and people together, helping to build a culture of togetherness and learning, no matter where people sat or when they joined the company. This is because the platform is used to effectively onboard new joiners while simultaneously aiding the personal growth and development of those already at the company.
The onboarding element is key because it is critical for new joiners to not only learn about Thomas Thor, but the sectors and industries they’ll be servicing. But, James and his team also saw this as an opportunity to create a lifelong learning tool that could support the whole employee lifecycle – from joining on day one to on-the-job knowledge transfer.
Creating a seamless but structured approach to compliance training
Everybody at Thomas Thor is required to undertake mandatory training in issues such as ISO certification and compliance. This means constantly delivering content to teams, and needing to know it has been engaged with.
We also caught up with Marie van Boesschoten, HR manager, who explained, “Regulations and compliance mean we have clear parameters to adhere to. Teams cannot save anything locally or as individual downloads, for instance. Because of the travel involved in what we do, nobody is permitted to work anywhere without a VPN. These are foundational issues for our businesses but ones that every new joiner needs training in – and we need to be able to see that they’ve done it.”
More than a learning solution but a platform used for comms, engagement and training
Hosting all of the necessary training content on the Thomas Thor Academy not only created a singular repository, accessible by anyone, anywhere at any time, but it also created a blank canvas for Thomas Thor to host any other type of training and development content that can be built on without restriction. This simple and easy-to-use platform that can be used for internal communications, team training, personal development and knowledge sharing.
As James explains, “We can create whatever we want, whether that is buying content, uploading it or creating it ourselves. It’s also incredibly intuitive and with an interface people are used to. It’s like a Thomas Thor branded Netflix. When turned on, people can see what content might be of interest, what they have previously viewed or completed and what’s recently been added.”
Flexibility of use – anytime, anywhere, any device
Unsurprisingly, it’s having a positive impact on the people in the business. The recruitment sector is one with a historically high churn rate of staff – though not for Thomas Thor. It is immensely proud of its staff retention, something it puts down to the dedication and commitment to developing its teams. Something Marie was incredibly passionate about, “We want people to enjoy using the Academy. Many of the staff we have spoken to have told us that they feel the platform has been created for them, and that’s something they both value and enjoy.”
From an operational perspective, this is critical. The international nature of Thomas Thor’s work means all staff need to work in a consistent way, whether they’re in England or New England. There has to be the flexibility to adopt local knowledge and skills but with an international growth mindset.
Challenging the status quo with an anti-legacy platform
For such an important project, you’d be forgiven for thinking Thomas Thor wanted an established LMS company to support it. As part of the tender process, it considered several major LMS companies, but all were discounted on the basis of being too traditional and rigid. To be different, it needed the support of a company that thought differently. One with a detailed understanding of workplace training, but that could officer the agility, speed and simplicity required. More importantly, one that was not constrained by legacy, process or a ‘set way of doing things’. That’s why it chose 5app.
As James outlines, “The process of procurement, and then integration, went extremely well and 5app has been very helpful in supporting us through the whole process. It was a company we had been recommended but, from early on it became clear that 5app mirrored exactly what we wanted to achieve technologically and, most importantly, culturally.”
Building the ultimate resource for staff learning and development
And the partnership will not stop here. For the Thomas Thor Academy, the sky’s the limit when it comes to company-wide learning and development at every level. It is targeting all future onboarding being delivered through the platform. The training aspect will also evolve so that staff can book specific types of training through the platform and specify who they wish to lead those sessions – something that needs to be done on a separate system currently.
For Thomas Thor, the Academy is about building the most complete library possible. The ultimate resource for staff, about the way to engage candidates, service clients, win contracts and grow the business. In that regard, the Academy is an ever-evolving hub that will remain a fundamental part of Thomas Thor Associates for the foreseeable future.
Get in touch to find out more
This is just one of the many innovative projects we are working on with our customers. To find out more about how 5app can help your business, get in touch today.