Business Transformation

Greystar's Learning Academies drive phenomenal results at minimal cost

In this case study, we’ll explore how Greystar’s game-changing new learning architecture has:

  • Enabled more learning in the flow of work
  • Boosted monthly use of the Business School from 56% to 91%
  • Achieved a 328% increase in the combination of user sessions, unique users and opened assets


Greystar is a leading, fully integrated real estate company offering expertise in investment management and the development of rental housing properties globally. At the heart of the business is Greystar’s 22,600 employees, who provide world-leading service to their international customer base.

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The challenge

Beyond the Business School

In 2019, Greystar launched its hugely successful Greystar Business School, complete with essential learning, tailored development content, bite-sized learning videos, company-wide communications and interactive social content. Combining learning, knowledge and communications created a flourishing learning culture within 12 months, and a transformative change to Greystar’s employee engagement.

From 2020 to 2023, the number of assets uploaded to the Business School increased by 65%. Almost half of these assets were ‘Greystar Originals’, created by and for Greystar’s employees, and harnessing the skills, knowledge and expertise of its team members.

This led to a lightbulb moment for Greystar: with so many useful resources on the learning platform, and the potential for many more to be created, they could do so much more to ensure that the right content reached the right person at the right time.

Making information more accessible

Throughout the post-pandemic cost-of-living crisis, Greystar recognised that residents in its properties needed more support and information. However, providing this information was challenging for Greystar’s employees, as Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were stored in SharePoint, hindering employees' ability to find them when urgently needed.

Additionally, the use of multiple property management systems across Greystar's brands, each with its own unique requirements, further slowed access to information, especially for new employees. This resulted in time being wasted searching for information and frustration among employees and residents seeking answers.

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The solution

Learning Academies in a nutshell

Greystar collaborated with 5app and Hemsley Fraser to enhance its learning initiatives with self-directed Learning Academies. These provide essential information tailored to users' roles, functions and countries, seamlessly integrated into the flow of work.

Greystar's Learning Academies enable employees to become more self-sufficient by granting easy access to everything they need to succeed in their role. The Academies focus on three key areas:

  1. Skills: Development pathways to enhance practical skills and competencies, accessible both virtually and in-person
  2. Knowledge: Company communications and essential information
  3. Technical: Proficiency in tools, technologies and systems

Department-specific academies provide employees with information highly relevant to their roles. For instance, a salesperson in France needs very different information to an accountant in the UK, so these academies organise and streamline content within the 5app learning platform to help connect the right people to the right information. On top of this, there are four generic academies with content applying across all departments, covering leadership, DE&I, wellbeing and onboarding, each of which contains on-the-job training that slots seamlessly into the flow of work.


Integrating learning into the flow of work

Once a user has accessed the Business School (using SSO to minimise barriers to access), the first thing they see is their role-specific Learning Academy, configured using 5app’s ‘Featured for you’ functionality. This means that in just two clicks, any user can be connected with information relevant to their exact role, easing the move to self-paced, self-directed learning and knowledge exploration for everyone.

Within the wider Business School, 5app’s ‘Managed Teams’ function gives line managers real-time visibility of their team members’ learning progress, as and when they engage in learning activity. This tool gives managers a powerful insight into employees’ development, which then informs their performance conversations to support and drive personal and professional growth in alignment with Greystar’s business objectives.

Creating and curating tailored content

The success of Greystar Originals content in the wider Business School meant that bringing it into the Learning Academies was a no brainer.

What makes Greystar Originals so successful is the speed at which Greystar’s people can respond to changes in the market. It supports a much more efficient, agile approach to content creation and curation, leveraging AI to record SMEs, transcribe the content and turn it into short, highly focused videos in no time at all.

Each academy is created in close collaboration with stakeholders across the business, which significantly increases buy-in and ensures that content is genuinely useful to employees in each functional area and country. Creating the content each department actually needs avoids this being seen as ‘just another HR platform’, and instead as a tool to add real value.

Content formats within the Learning Academies include interactive, multi-device fluidbooks tailored to each role, allowing for a more intuitive learning experience than a typical e-learning course. Employees can also find videos, PDFs, short e-learning modules, key documentation and links to external sites, all in their local language and relevant to their own property market, for highly relevant, personalised learning accessible in the flow of work.

“With our approach to create Greystar-owned content, by in-house subject matter experts, team member and business function cross-collaboration has increased, resulting in the identification of numerous priority initiatives to further improve our regional European business, making us better at what we do every day.”

– Matthew Crichton-Brown, MD European Development Operations


Launching the learning platform

As any L&D team will know, designing great content is just half the battle. Without a great launch plan, all your hard work is likely to be for nothing. That’s why Greystar invited employees from each country to join a town hall event to drum up enthusiasm and showcase the Learning Academies’ new content and functionality.On launch day, the L&D team sent out a short ‘movie trailer’ video titled ‘Your learning journey starts here’ to create a buzz around the Learning Academies. This was accompanied by clear, concise instructions to minimise barriers to entry and help employees hit the ground running.

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The results

Following in the footsteps of the original Greystar Business School, the Learning Academies have proved a huge success - even with Greystar’s relatively small L&D team, which is a testament to the simplicity and user friendliness of the 5app learning platform.

Outside the immensely positive employee reception, the measurable benefits are undeniable - specifically around employee engagement, learning impact and resident satisfaction. Having easy access to development pathways accelerates speed to competence for new starters, while also driving skill improvements for existing staff, reinvigorating the learning culture across the entire organisation.

The 328% increase in learner engagement and major uplifts across skills, technical capabilities and knowledge are all a testament to Greystar’s vibrant learning culture, driven by the innovative new Learning Academy architecture. Beyond this, the 15% increase in customer satisfaction now takes Greystar 11 points over the average real estate NPS of +30, meaning happier customers who are now enjoying better service.

“The Learning Academies support our team members through the provision of great content at scale. Content that can be easily adapted to different roles, delivered in multiple languages, and easily updated over time, keeping up with the pace of change as the needs of our customers and team members evolve. Most importantly, it enables teams to access the right learning and information at exactly the moment they need it.”

“I found the development pathway to be very informative about the management structure. How to utilise telephone and emails to correspond eloquently to residents. The most useful information I found was how to navigate the SOP database, and included in the development pathway is a list of the most-utilised SOPs for the role. Being able to access them at any time around the building is just brilliant!”


What’s next for Greystar?

Greystar has already built and deployed three Learning Academies on its elegantly simple 5app learning platform, and is currently creating the International Investment Academy, which will be rolled out globally in local languages. With Learning Academies, Greystar provides consistent training and development opportunities to all employees, regardless of level, geographic location and language, at minimal cost.

Additionally, to further strengthen talent management capabilities, Greystar is currently building a cutting-edge platform that uses AI and automation. This platform will enable it to identify, manage and develop talent in a more efficient and effective manner, resulting in improved employee engagement, retention and, ultimately, customer satisfaction.

Now those are real building blocks for success!

Ready to make an impact? Contact us for a demo.


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