How ASOS Got Their People Wanting More Online Learning

David James
David James
April 18, 2016
How ASOS Got Their People Wanting More Online Learning

I heard a Learning & Development leader from a major international brand remark recently that despite launching a new suite of online learning programmes to their business, only 5 people had accessed them at all. Two of those people almost immediately bounced out of the system (just seconds of activity registered) and one person spent any significant time ‘learning’. I then heard a phrase that I’ve become quite accustomed to: “It seems our people just don’t want to learn.”

This has certainly not been the case at ASOS, who recently launched a different approach to supporting people managers at Performance Review time. Rather than running ‘courses’, the decision was made to create and share digital ‘resources’ that provided support and answers to managers’ questions at the point of need. Resources were custom built to be ASOS- and situation-specific, offering tips on all manner of topics, ranging from:

  1. The 5 top tips to get prepared for the review conversation;
  2. How to provide feedback that will make a difference;
  3. What to do after the performance review.

And everybody loved it!

These resources were hosted on a learning app outside of the LMS and given a soft launch with no more than an email with a link… and this approach, bearing in mind has never been used in ASOS before, clearly hit the mark.

At a glance:

  • Remembering this was not mandatory training, an average of 5 resources were accessed by ASOS managers per visit;
  • Over a third of those managers accessed all the resources made available (9 in total);
  • In line with a recent study that shows 56% of managers learn on their commute, ASOS found that a quarter of their managers chose to access these resources ‘on-the-go’.

Managers are still accessing these topics, well outside of the performance review cycle, this demonstrates the continued value to them. And remember, this is for Performance Management!

“Love it – it’s informative, concise – what’s not to like?! I also like that it is a place where I can go for information at any time rather than emailing queries or asking questions about unfamiliar territories – when these two forms of inquiry are completely open to individual opinions. It’s all about the consistency! Give us more!”

So What Can You Learn From What Worked At ASOS?

The format: Providing resources rather than courses recognised that their people knew what they wanted support on and did not surmise that L&D knows best. Also, short resources that helped managers get from ‘not knowing’ to ‘doing’ in the shortest possible time demonstrated that their time was respected and valued.

Contextually relevant: All resources were designed to answer specific questions at ASOS, closing the gap between ‘learning’ and ‘application’. These were not generic tips or broad explanations. These described what is known to work at ASOS – supporting performance rather than attempting to ‘train’.

On-demand and on-the-go: The resources were available on a mobile app (as well as desktop) so they could be accessed at a time that was right for each manager. Whilst it was anticipated that the resources would provide just-in-time support, the number of managers accessing resources ‘on-the-go’ demonstrated that they made choices to ‘learn’ in ways and times that made most sense to them.

User-experience: Feedback from managers was overwhelmingly positive and they didn’t just love the format, the content, and mobile access, but the overall user-experience of the application, which was comparable to consumer apps they used rather than corporate systems. Another positive was that not a single support call was taken – it just worked.

The knock-on effect has been that other managers (who accessed the resources) want to lead initiatives in the same way, be it Cybersecurity or Social Media Know-how. All managers liked what they themselves experienced and want to achieve similar results with their projects.


So rather than assuming that ‘people don’t want to learn’, perhaps we should deduce that ‘they don’t want to learn like that’? When meeting employees on their own terms, helping them to achieve what they want to – helping them to do what they want to do, better – you can take the ASOS example and achieve outstanding engagement in your company’s online learning. Then you can truly impact performance and have the opportunity to develop internal capability with technology. You can’t do these if people don’t want to engage with the technology solutions available.

So, if you are struggling to tempt your people with your learning technology solutions then take the example from ASOS and do something different. Get where your learners are.

If you’d like to embrace a digital learning strategy similar to ASOS, contact us to get started today.

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