Developing an L&D Strategy at foodora

We recently sat down with Olivia Winkvist from foodora to get an inside look at how the company approaches L&D and her role in building a successful learning strategy.

Olivia talks us through how she went about developing foodora’s first L&D strategy, change management tactics, getting stakeholder buy-in, and empowering colleagues to own their development.

But first, a little about her career journey.

Olivia joined foodora back in 2020 in a temporary recruiter role. The company was hiring aggressively due to growth.

Before long, she had taken on more employer branding responsibilities aligned with foodora’s EVP “freedom to create your own journey.”

During this time, data showed that people were leaving the organization due to a lack of development opportunities. This was the catalyst behind her expansion into an L&D role in 2022.

Since then, the role has continued to evolve as Olivia and her team now oversee talent acquisition, employer branding, and L&D initiatives.

As you can imagine, she had some seriously valuable insights to share with us. So let’s get into it.

Developing an L&D approach from scratch

Olivia is one of the brains behind foodora’s first L&D strategy. So, we were keen to find out what prompted her to come up with it. How did she know it was time for a set strategy? And most importantly, where did she start?

Here are the key takeaways.

Lesson 1: Start with low-hanging fruits

Let’s start with some context. Olivia and her team have been working on an L&D strategy for the past year and a half, focusing on finding different kinds of competence gaps, planning learning initiatives, and reviewing their success.

But prior to this, she had no experience in this area. Thanks to some advice from her previous manager, she made the smart decision to “start with all low-hanging fruits you can find.”

Here’s how that process looked:

  • Sitting down with managers to identify competency gaps and the skills they need to future-proof the business
  • Identifying what’s not working, for instance, switching to an LMS that better aligns with organizational goals
  • Understanding what learning pieces are already in place
  • Identifying people from other departments who can work closely with L&D

Olivia started with unstructured ad-hoc L&D initiatives. When we asked her what prompted her to start building the strategy, Oliva responded:

“I wanted something solid to stand on. We implemented some learning initiatives, and we now needed to measure their impact. I also thought it was crucial to align with everyone, especially when it comes to leadership training and other initiatives not owned by us.”

The decision to implement a strategy allowed her to align efforts across a 20-person team working on L&D in different functions and capacities.

Lesson 2: Co-create the L&D Strategy

Olivia made the decision to cross-functionally co-create the L&D strategy. This choice plays a crucial role not only in keeping stakeholders across the building aligned, it also frees up time for her.

This co-creation is an ongoing process. She estimates that they’re around 90% finished, but it’s still a work in progress. Her approach is that every colleague should have a unique experience at foodora, and this takes time to build.

We particularly love Olivia’s goal behind everything the team does:

“When you look back at your time at foodora, it should be the place where you have grown and learned the most.”

In such a big organization, we were also curious to know who Olivia worked with to build the L&D strategy.

She told us she worked closely with the rest of the People & Culture team, such as the P&C  director and their People Partners Team.

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Lesson 3: Test before scaling

Our next big question for Olivia was simple: What’s next once you finish the strategy?

The plan is to implement it in different kinds of ways. For instance, she predicts that managers will need support understanding where new resources are and getting employees up to speed with the process.

But one of the biggest priorities is to align it with Delivery Hero (which owns foodora).

Another key goal is to work on over-communicating the strategy across the organization so every colleague understands they have to own their development. She also highlights the need to over-communicate to raise employee awareness about the corporate LMS (Sana) and how they can use it.

According to Olivia, the overall success of the strategy boils down to one essential concept: change management.

For this reason, she’s an advocate for testing initiatives before scaling them company-wide.

One of the biggest lessons Olivia’s learned is to roll out initiatives slower, starting with one department before scaling.

Empowering employees to own their development

One of the many great lessons we took away from this chat with Olivia was foodora’s philosophy around employee development and accountability.

Before we dive into each lesson, we wanted to lead with a quote from Olivia:

“You have to own your development, it’s not like you are just going to receive a new role. You have to own it.”

We love this take on accountability. We also loved her reminder that development isn’t always vertical.

“Taking the next step isn’t taking on a new role every six months, it’s growing within your role. It’s adding things, learning things about your job, yourself, and so on.”

This mindset plays a huge role in foodora’s L&D strategy.

Lesson 1: Fostering a "Build Together" Mentality

A recurring theme throughout our chat with Olivia was the idea of employees taking ownership of their development and creating an accountability mindset.

We were intrigued to hear more about how she plans to change these mindsets.

While she is still defining this piece of the strategy, Olivia and her team have already identified some tactics they would like to implement. One of which is identifying Learning Champions throughout the company.

What’s interesting is that a lot of this happens organically. For instance, a colleague mentions they love using a certain tool, and the L&D team empowers them to share their knowledge. As the word spreads that teaching others actually improves your own skills, more and more employees will want to participate.

In other instances, the L&D team will approach departments to find those ambassadors and encourage them to get involved.

We were interested to know how that looked.

It starts by asking employees what training they want and then finding the right internal expert to deliver it. Of course, that’s where L&D will jump in to support and scale the training initiative.

We can see how this approach aligns with foodora’s goal of creating a “build together” mentality where every colleague takes part in the development process.

Lesson 2: Leveraging Supportive Technologies

Right now, Oliva and her team are working with managers to show them how to use the corporate LMS. The focus is educating them on ways to use the platform to motivate employees and follow up on development activities.

Highlighting how the platform will help managers is an essential step in changing mindsets and making the LMS more than just another HR tool. This ties back to her earlier point about the importance of change management.

Of course, a project this size is never without its challenges. A personal struggle for Olivia was convincing employees across the business of the benefits of implementing a new LMS. And more specifically, why it was worth the investment.

In the end, she succeeded: “It was going to bring value to everyone and make us more future-proof.”

We were also interested to hear more about the AI features in Sana and how foodora uses them. Here are some ways Olivia is leveraging them:

  • Taking meeting notes and summarizing key points
  • Search system to review training content and manage knowledge assets
  • AI-supported course building to reduce development time

The overlap between L&D and other HR functions

We’ve already spoken briefly about how foodora’s L&D team works cross-functionally to bring its strategy to life. But we wanted to scratch the surface and get a clearer look at how that plays out.

Here are the top take-homes we got from Olivia’s experience.

Lesson 1: Use learning & growth stories in employer branding

Olivia runs Talent Acquisition, Employer Branding, and L&D, giving her a unique point of view. So, our first question was: How do these different pieces fit together?

According to Olivia, it’s given her invaluable insight from both a recruiter’s and an L&D perspective.

“When it comes to our employer brand, I think it’s super important. I focus a lot on people’s stories on LinkedIn about their learning journeys, adding something about what they did to get there.”

It also proves beneficial when it comes to internal movement.

Lesson 2: Work with your comms department to spread your messages

We touched on the idea of changing mindsets a lot during our chat. But what was really interesting was how those conversations looked with the management team. After all, changes start at the top.

“Learning isn’t only taking courses, it’s taking part in different things. So that’s the mindset we want to bring to the managers.”

There’s also work to do when it comes to educating managers that development also happens within roles, not just through promotions.

So, our next question was, how do you communicate L&D messages to such a wide employee audience?

Interestingly, Olivia is also part of foodora’s communication team. So she works hard to promote learning initiatives across internal comms tools like Workplace and Slack, as well as during company All Hands meetings and email.

Her strategy is to always overcommunicate the “why” behind L&D initiatives and the value for her colleagues and the organization.

Lesson 3: Scale your L&D initiatives through your People Partners

foodora’s cross-functional strategy allows L&D to use People Partners and other company stakeholders to scale learning initiatives. This close collaboration will play a major role in expanding learning initiatives company-wide and keeping up with demands for development opportunities.

People Partners tend to be very close to managers. They should be involved right from the start and feel the ownership of the L&D projects, so that in turn, they can instill the right mindsets in the organization:

  1. Everyone needs to own their development, and L&D is there just as a support system
  2. Growth can happen within your role and horizontally, not just vertically
  3. We have to prioritize what will future-proof us

This is where the cross-functional strategy really shines, allowing L&D to use People Partners in sharing the right messages.

Outro

We got a lot out of this chat with Olivia, including some fascinating snippets into how foodora’s L&D strategy looks and where it’s going.

Some of the strategy highlights include:

  • The goal of empowering employees to own their development
  • The mindset of “build together” either through co-creation or delegation
  • The target of leveraging technology to empower employees
  • The mindset of moving from career ladders to career lattices
  • Integration with other phases of the employee lifecycle

For us, the standout piece was the idea of empowerment. Rather than teams requesting training and the L&D building it, foodora’s approach offers an ecosystem that encourages employees to take ownership of creating learning experiences with her support.

We wish good luck to Olivia and her team in realizing their strategy.

Lavinia Mehedintu has been designing learning experiences and career development programs for the past 9 years both in the corporate world and in higher education. As a Co-Founder and Learning Architect @Offbeat she’s applying adult learning principles so that learning & people professionals can connect, collaborate, and grow. She’s passionate about social learning, behavior change, and technology and constantly puts in the work to bring these three together to drive innovation in the learning & development space.

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