By Zoe Sinclair, Director of People Services, ArrowX

Upon my appointment at ArrowXL I recognised there was a huge opportunity to modernise the company’s approach to training. This would allow the business to focus even further upon colleague development and enhance employee engagement. In turn, this would improve service levels, drive growth, and help to nurture the business leaders of tomorrow – which is incredibly important with the growing skill shortage across the logistics industry.

The team and I quickly recognised there was a lack of traceability, consistency and an overall link between training and business goals. As training records were kept in several locations across our network, and in several different formats, it was extremely difficult to ascertain exactly what training had been delivered in previous years. As a result, the senior management team was unable to identify the relevant skillsets of their colleagues, which was problematic when it came to succession planning.

It was clear that we needed to act swiftly to resolve a lack of strategy in leadership and development, so we took the decision to create a centralised and dedicated training structure.

We started with the basics, ensuring that all training within the business was standardised by a newly formed department and full audits carried out and governance put in place. We scheduled monthly standardisation meetings and trainer observations and, as part of this, a number of Safe Systems of Work (SSoW) and briefing documents were completely rewritten by the internal team.

As these plans for centralisation and standardisation were being delivered, we also pushed ahead with proposals to develop a new best-in-class training hub. In July 2018, we officially launched The ArrowXL Development Academy to further enhance service levels for retailers and their customers, whilst also boosting employee engagement.

As part of this we completed the construction of a purpose-built apartment within its Wigan headquarters that allows specialist delivery crews to train and hone their skills in a real-life environment. The apartment includes a working kitchen, a child’s bedroom and a living room, plus two classroom-style teaching areas. This provided the perfect opportunity for the crews to practice deliveries, as well as the company’s portfolio of in-home solutions such as installing/plumbing white goods, furniture assembly and connecting TVs. Some of our clients such as Feather & Black (bedroom furniture) and Smeg UK (white goods) donated popular products for training exercises. A mock version of the back of an HGV and a tail-lift was also installed to allow delivery staff to train and practice moving different products on and off vehicles.

All company-wide training programmes now sit within The ArrowXL Development Academy, including those relating to health and safety, leadership and management development, and compliance. All new starters also have a tailored induction at the academy, including delivery crew members, who receive a two-day core programme and a two-day assembly induction for those performing in-home Platinum services (installation etc).

Since the Academy opened it has provided a foundation for new learning, leadership and development initiatives. This includes a management and leadership programme to help to engage managers, develop key skills and identify future talent to sustain business growth. In addition, we have also received JAUPT accreditation to deliver Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) modules in-house.

The centralisation and standardisation of the company’s training function, and the launch of the ArrowXL Development Academy, has had a profound effect upon the business. The Academy has provided more than 1,200 training sessions across the business since May 2018, including driver DCPC, inductions, Materials Handling Equipment (MHE), Institution of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH) modules, First Aid, Customer Service and Squad Programme.

Dedicated training has allowed us to further improve service levels for retailers and their customers. Since launching the CSAT in September, we have delivered exceptional levels of service, with survey scores comfortably surpassing 75% each month and we have achieved an industry-leading Trust Pilot score of 9.3. I am also pleased to say that employee engagement has risen, and this includes a huge growth in the return rate for the annual company survey – up from 42% to 71%. We still have work to do but this is making a real difference for our people and our business.