Investing in people

15 December, 23
Q & A with Alison Flannery from Europa Worldwide Group

Q & A with Alison Flannery from Europa Worldwide Group

Europa Worldwide Group, a leading global logistics company has experienced rapid growth, therefore quality skills training is essential across every level of the business. Employing over 1,400 staff globally, the Group comprises a European road freight operation Europa Road, a 3PL division Europa Warehouse and global air and sea freight services with Europa Air & Sea, as well as a comprehensive Central Services team.

Over the past 10-years Europa has trebled its workforce and increased its international footprint, which brings with it the need for staff development and a growing requirement for training in management skills and compliance.

Europa’s approach is to look at the whole scope of learning – from onboarding, on the job training, soft skills and operational development – and ensure that they are all embedded as a journey and not simply a visit to the training room.

The Group’s senior leaders believe that quality learning and development is fundamental to its success, that if everyone understands the business goals, they can own their part. Earlier this year, the company combined its recruitment, HR and Learning & Development (L&D) functions to deliver a unified strategy, with a holistic approach to talent development.

Europa’s belief is that it is important to create a solid and consistent approach to learning and skills development that is closely aligned to the company values. This is essential given the diversity across the teams, both in terms of business operations, but also given the multitude of roles, operations, and sites as well as cultural differences.

What sort of training do you carry out and for who?

The logistics sector is a complex industry with a broad range of health, safety and compliance requirements in addition to the everyday role-based training.

Recognising the vast and diverse training needs required across the business, Europa has invested significantly in the past 12 months. This has resulted in a threefold increase within the L&D team, as well as new platforms and technologies designed to support innovative learning pathways.

Its internal L&D team, led by Alison Flannery, works across the business supporting with three specific areas to help develop high performing teams. Firstly, developing new starter induction modules. Secondly, developing standardised materials for Europa’s on the job product and process training, and thirdly, role specific development training.

Each of these three distinct areas are approached in a different way to grow competency and skills.

Training is delivered in a varied way depending on need, location, team experience and timing. As well as identifying the best techniques to use for learning, Europa’s team also monitor the outcomes and adapts approaches as needed. This has created a dynamic portfolio of training which continues to evolve over time.

The training skills portfolio covers knowledge, skills and behaviour. Each one of these areas is approached differently, meaning that every day training is being delivered somewhere and, in some shape or form, across the Group.

The L&D team work closely with local teams of Human Resource Business Partners (HRPBs). These are based locally, supporting 29 global sites, meaning that understanding team needs and responding to them is agile and not at all remote.

With Europa’s ambitious approach to developing new products and services, as well as streamlining its process, with areas such as digital technology, means that any new development must be effectively trained into the business.

Europa’s agile and easy access approach to learning is designed to support Europa’s ethos of internal development and promotion from within the organisation.

What, if any, knowledge of the freight industry do you expect of new staff or do you train people from scratch? If the former, how easy is it to find suitable people?

As the Group covers many facets from IT to sales, and finance to procurement, new team members may either have direct industry-related experience or join from another sector with transferable skills.

The Europa approach is very much about finding team members with the right skills for the job or who demonstrate the potential to be successful in their role. A key focus within its recruitment is identifying people whose personal values align with the company values or “approach to business” which really are at its core.

Europa had designed its training to support the onboarding of new staff members without specific industry expertise.

Do you have any preference in terms of methods of training? E.g. Classroom/face-to-face, Zoom/Teams or electronic/online?

Europa deploys a wide range of training methods, supporting both formal and ‘on the job’ training. Formal training is delivered via a mix of classroom, remote and eLearning packages. All packages are designed in conjunction with team managers to ensure that knowledge and skills learnt in formal training become everyday behaviours through ‘on the job’ support.

Essential to the success of its staff is this everyday ‘on the job’ learning which is encouraged and delivered via managers. Methods for ‘on the job’ training are broad and range from the more traditional methods such as shadowing, ‘show and do’ and coaching, right through to team workshops, manager Q&A sessions and cross department familiarisation sessions.

The fast track of eLearning (during and post Covid) has meant that Europa’s training team has quickly adapted to remote learning, with managers learning new techniques to ensure that delegates are fully engaged.

Europa believes that a critical element of L&D is ‘learning by listening’ and as such, is supported by its current hybrid working policy – managers are encouraged to plan ‘in office’ days in a way that will maximise this opportunity for staff.

As part of its training toolkit, in addition to delivery by the L&D team, Europa continues to develop its own learning portal where standard best practice materials are available for every manager across the business. This ensures consistency of access to quality training resources.
A key focus within Europa’s learning strategy is to support all managers in the delivery of consistent, quality training that is aligned to our company values and goals.

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