Rabobank’s learning strategy driven by its co-operative identity

"We are convinced that this type of training and learning is more sustainable and effective than traditional learning"

Ronald VAN WEEGEN

L&D Director, Rabobank

Rabobank

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Rabobank’s learning strategy driven by its co-operative identity

Industry

Banking & Insurance

Challenge

Becoming a learning organization

Fostering collaboration and networks

To date, Rabobank operates on cooperative principles. Rabobank Group is a full-range financial services provider comprised of independent local Rabobanks, Rabobank Nederland and various subsidiaries. Overall, the group has approximately 60.000 employees, who serve some 10 million customers in 47 countries. Member branches collectively own Rabobank, in contrast to the traditional governance structure of many other banks.

Rabobank is as an innovative bank. This is reflected in the virtual way a vast majority of its products and services are offered to its customers. Rabobank was the first retail bank to introduce mobile banking in the Dutch home market. An eye to innovation is also applied internally, as it is reflected in the way Rabobank’s employees work, independent of time and place, depending on the task at hand. This “un-plugged” way of working has been widely embraced by employees working in the Netherlands.

“Customers needs are changing at high speed and virtual means are omnipresent. For our employees, this means that there is a continuous focus on learning and development. Within a culture that is based on cooperation, our Learning & Development strategy links in with Rabobank’s focus on customer centricity. And as customers’ requirements change, so do the ways in which staff learns and develops itself’’, says Ronald van Weegen, Head of Learning and Development at Rabobank. Like any other bank, Rabobank must comply with multiple regulations from Dutch, European and global financial authorities pertaining to knowledge, skills and competency of its financial advisers. To meet regulatory requirements, banks must provide simple products that are easy for customers to understand. At the same time, banks face fierce competition from extant competitors and new entrants to the banking sector. Rabobank looks to meeting these challenges head-on by ensuring excellent service.

Towards a new learning approach

At Rabobank, staff is increasingly learning in informal and non-formal ways. The bank aims at keeping abreast of these and other trends and to provide the best possible learning facilities for its staff. Moreover, Rabobank looks for ways to make learning more attractive. “We have noticed that there is a shift away from learning in the classroom to making it a part of one’s daily work.” Ronald Van Weegen continues: “Although we had knowledge management systems and intranet access to certified knowledge documents, we were looking for a blended approach that included social and collaborative learning, as well as formal classroom learning and SCORM based e-learning modules.”

Rabobank recently implemented the CrossKnowledge Learning Suite to meet its blended and social learning needs. The bank branded the platform ‘eCollege’. Its very first project focused on a management development program for 250 second tier managers, in cooperation with the Vlerick Business School. The first large-scale rollout was a blended learning course for 4.600 participants. It plans to expand soon to 15.000 learners. “Staff have quickly adapted to the new platform and specifically to the blended approach of using video chat facilities and to uploading documents to the platform. For us this is the perfect way to make learning more attractive, more effective and also more efficient. And it brings learning to the workplace.”

Rabobank not only provides its own in-house training, but works with several external providers as well. Learning partners have been requested to apply the eCollege platform to improve effectiveness and optimize time to market for learning projects. By the end of 2013, the bank expects most of its providers to have embraced eCollege.

Co-operative learning

By choosing CrossKnowledge’s learning management system as a technical backbone, Rabobank has a clear vision of the way it wants to drive blended and collaborative learning. That is why the enterprise social network will be linked to eCollege. Van Weegen explains, “eCollege supports participants in directing their own learning. Attending a course is not enough; you have to participate before, during and after a course. eCollege provides a single location for training materials. Moreover, it is structured and accessible. The feedback we get from our users is very good.” Rabobank expects to see a decrease in the cost of designing and developing its learning materials. In addition, it expects to cut costs of handling first line support, as it is easier for learners to find materials than it was before. “We have seen an increase in the number of training hours people are spending and we are convinced that this type of training and learning is more sustainable and effective than traditional learning,” says Ronald Van Weegen. “It links in well with the cooperative identity of our organization, where people work together for the benefit of our clients. In this case, they learn together to that same end.”

In future, Rabobank is looking to integrate its existing SharePoint platform, which has been used for knowledge sharing and knowledge management, with the CrossKnowledge Learning Suite. This will enable staff to easily switch between platforms during the learning process. In time, the bank expects its full workforce to benefit from the learning platform, providing a trusted, certified service that will ensure the best possible customer service and centricity.

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