Business Outcomes Improved With Virtual Learning

Business Outcomes Improved With Virtual Learning


By Tricia Heinrich –

Working with ON24, Sodexo created a virtual learning environment to provide training and boost engagement.

Food and facilities management company Sodexo worked with ON24 to create a virtual learning environment (VLE) for employee training and development. The VLE helps the company communicate progress and define managers’ roles in the overall corporate strategy, and offers performance tools and job aids to improve business outcomes.
Sodexo’s strategy focuses on engagement and shared learning around specific topics, and results from its recent training session are promising. After the implementation of the VLE, training attendance doubled, employee satisfaction scores increased, and the company amassed a cost savings of more than $1 million.


Sodexo is among the largest food and facilities management companies in the world, with more than 400,000 employees in 80 countries who design, manage, and deliver an array of “quality of life” services. It provides onsite services, as well as motivation solutions, in corporate, education, healthcare, government, and remote-site segments.

The company’s goal for its management training program is to decrease costs while improving attendance and engagement. In the past, Sodexo held traditional, live training sessions that were costly because of travel for site-based managers. Previous training programs were held in the summer, which competed with client partner commitments and vacation schedules, so the company required a more flexible solution that could still drive engagement.

“Our goal when designing this program was to create and offer entertaining and engaging training,” explains Michele Supronowicz, Sodexo’s senior director of training and development. “We needed a solution that effectively delivered performance tools and job aids to implement needed changes and ultimately improve business outcomes.”

Program components

The VLE was created to conveniently reach about 4,500 U.S.-based managers and international guests. It reinforces Sodexo’s long-term strategy by communicating progress and defining managers’ roles in the company’s overall strategy.
This solution brings together decentralized groups of employees with regular technical updates, career development information, and shared learning around specific topics. It incorporates many elements, including:

  • an auditorium for viewing webcasts and hearing the president’s update
  • a President’s Club in which team members are recognized for their successes
  • a training center that organizes training content by category
  • a communications center through which visitors can network and share information with peers
  • social media access
  • gamification techniques to increase engagement.

Sodexo’s learning events typically span several weeks and focus on a theme such as operational excellence or business acumen. The company makes a point of adding variety to its events by incorporating a larger portion of e-learning rather than focusing more on live content. Recognizing that there are many learning styles and solutions, Sodexo’s HR and training strategy emphasizes blended learning options to fully engage the audience.

For first-time training for new hires and updates to existing employees, Sodexo focuses on making the virtual training inspiring and informative. Gamification and prizes are used to boost engagement, with prizes awarded for “sharing your inspirations” and participating in contests. For example, a “Show Your Sodexo Spirit” contest leveraged user-created content to drive adult learning, while also lowering training costs dramatically.


“Moving our training online with ON24 has saved our company time and money,” Supronowicz says. “ON24 has been a great partner, providing the critical infrastructure and services needed to make our online training initiatives successful.”
Metrics provided by the ON24 platform, along with survey responses from participants, underscore the success of the VLE. These are some of the results from Sodexo’s most recent training in 2012:

  • live Q&A attendance: 3,201
  • webcasts viewed: 7,997
  • 120 documents viewed 100,047 times
  • e-learning programs completed: 1,194
  • average number of activities per learner: 31.

Additionally, the company made social media integration a priority in 2012. This effort included:

  • a webcam chat session focused on social media Q&A
  • an integrated ON24 idea widget for collaboration that attracted about 150 posts
  • a Facebook interface that resulted in 421 new Facebook members.

For Sodexo, the VLE offers immediate reach, clarity, and connection to senior leadership. It allows the company’s message to directly reach more than 4,000 individuals without subjecting the message to interpretation before it gets to the end user.

During the four-year period that Sodexo has implemented virtual training programs, it has achieved significant return-on-investment by reducing per-employee training costs while delivering a consistent and repeatable message and increasing employee engagement. About 70 percent of employees say that the scope of the materials met their needs and that they gained new knowledge and learned new skills in the virtual environment.

“The VLE is an innovative virtual talent management system that drives engagement and positive learning outcomes consistently and cost-effectively,” says Supronowicz.

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