Bloomingdale’s uses microlearning, big data, and machine learning to prove training saved $3 million in 1 year

How can I not only prove training has a direct impact on business results, but also understand how to make the right changes for continuous progress?

This is a question leaders haven’t been able to answer. They know they need to put more dollars into training but lack the data to justify more budget, let alone understand where and how to apply training resources most effectively. Unfortunately, any money they receive is viewed as a sunk cost—instead of a benefit to the business.

Chad McIntosh, former Vice President of Asset Protection and Risk Management at Bloomingdale’s used to struggle with this challenge, but he found a way to solve it. Tired of relying on ineffectual training methods like awareness posters, classroom training and traditional LMS technology that could not be measured, McIntosh turned to Axonify—The only modern learning solution that ingrains knowledge deep enough to change employee behaviour and ties training directly back to specific business results. The success he achieved led him to surpass corporate goals.

Extending the value of microlearning to other parts of the business

After using Axonify to roll out safety training to 10,000 Bloomingdale’s employees, and reducing safety claims by 41%, which resulted in a savings of more than $2 million a year since 2013—McIntosh could have called it a day. After all, he had already proved this modern approach to training was working. But, for a leader like McIntosh, that still wasn’t enough.

He wanted to go deeper. He wanted to understand exactly what training content impacted these results and how much of it could be tied back directly to his team’s efforts. He wanted to leverage Bloomingdale’s success story in safety and challenge all other departments of the company to achieve the same phenomenal results.

“I’ve always wanted to help lead the business through the perspective of data,” explains McIntosh. “I knew the valuable information we were collecting in Axonify could lead us in other directions. We know what it had meant for us from a safety perspective, but what could it mean from a turnover standpoint? What about for inventory shortage? I’ve always thought we could extend this value across other parts of the business that we weren’t looking at or analysing.”

And so, he did just that.

The ultimate solution to proving business impact

Because McIntosh had saved Bloomingdale’s millions of dollars in safety claims by using Axonify, he wanted to dig deeper into two key areas that had the potential to negatively impact profitability: worker’s compensation claims and general liability claims. Specifically, he wanted to understand the precise impact on claims numbers if he trained staff on these topics through Axonify.

This adept understanding of the value of data and the need to drive business results through a highly engaged and knowledgeable workforce is what led McIntosh to trial Axonify’s latest cutting-edge product, Axonify Impact™. As a part of the award-winning Axonify solution, Impact is the world’s first learning attribution engine that leverages Axonify’s real-time microlearning data, corporate business data and machine learning to finally allow leaders to measure, prove, and understand the business impact of their training efforts, at scale. It flags when a business target is at risk, adapts the training to ensure corporate goals stay on track, and removes the guess work from evaluating training initiatives. Simply put, Axonify Impact is the ultimate solution to the training measurement challenges that has eluded leaders for so many decades. The best part? No data scientists required.

Tying training to results is a big deal

With only 3 months into the Axonify Impact trial, McIntosh along with Nadine Johnson, Assistant Manager of Asset Protection Operations and Safety at Bloomingdale’s, decided to take a look under the hood. Already, they were able to see the real-time data inside the platform for the first time. Out of all the factors impacting the positive results the company was experiencing in the last year, about a third could be confidently attributed to the knowledge learned and maintained through Axonify. More specifically, the Impact data revealed that 36% of the overall business benefits in general liability and 24% in worker’s comp claims were a direct result from training efforts on the Axonify solution. When Johnson looked at last year’s safety claim numbers, these numbers translated to an incredible savings of $3,008,160.

Flash-forward to this year—In McIntosh’s opinion, “We’re off to an amazing start. In the first month of the year, we were already $360,000 below plan in claims, for both general liability and worker’s comp—in just one month. That’s a big deal.”

We’re inclined to agree. It’s not easy drawing a straight line from training efforts directly to company profitability. Even the strongest corporate learning platforms should be able to paint a clear picture of exactly how much of an influence training had on the bottom line. But where those tools often fall short is in the ability to, not only provide proactive recommendations on upcoming issues that may end up costing the business, but also tell you exactly what areas of training, and which content had a direct impact on company dollars.

The future impact on inventory shortage, employee turnover, and NPS

Armed with this data, McIntosh is now targeting other areas of the business that impact profitability, like inventory shortage and employee turnover.

“I’m energised and excited about the possibilities of Axonify Impact and the analyzation and recommendation capabilities it will bring,” says McIntosh. “By looking at shortage and all the other aspects of asset protection, we can now tell management ‘If you increase employee participation in training from 60% to 85%, here’s the value at the end of the day, or at the end of the year when we take inventory for you.’”

Johnson wholeheartedly agrees, “I really like how clear it is. Axonify Impact flat out tells you, ‘If you put in this effort to this training topic, you will get these results.’” After all, if management can clearly see the value behind training with hard numbers, it’s far easier to get their buy-in to help drive employee participation.

“It’s revolutionary to be able to give information to a manager that shows they’re going to have additional turnover, if they don’t bring engagement up,” explains McIntosh. “Continuity of the team is so important. That’s why making sure employees are all engaged and growing is just so critical to success.”

McIntosh, Johnson and their team also plan on continuing to work closely with Axonify to quantify the impact of their training efforts on the company’s net promoter score (NPS), a measurement every store manager uses to determine customer satisfaction. For the first time ever, Bloomingdale’s will be able to determine how NPS scores tie to training initiatives as well as the direct impact they have on the company’s profitability.

Remaining competitive in the digital era

No question, leaders in every industry know they need to understand how to use the right data to remain agile and proactive. By finally having a way to put the right training and measurement in place with Axonify, they have insight into exactly which information employees know, understand, and are applying on the job, as well as how training is impacting specific areas of the business. They also benefit from valuable recommendations for how to get ahead of issues like safety, shortage, turnover, engagement, and more.

For retail, an industry that is particularly feeling the pressure from today’s increasingly fast-paced, digitally-dependant world, this insight is even more valuable. After all, it’s no secret that brick-and-mortar stores have to fight a little harder to maintain a competitive edge.

But, luckily for Bloomingdale’s, McIntosh isn’t worried, “We will separate ourselves from anyone who is not using Axonify—without a doubt.”

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