Whitbread Plc is the UK’s largest operator of hotels, restaurants and coffee shops, with some of the UK’s most successful hospitality brands. Its largest division is Premier Inn, which is the largest hotel brand in the UK with over 760 hotels and 68,000 rooms. Its Costa Coffee chain has 3,500 shops across 29 countries, over 6,800 Costa Express self-serve units and is the world’s second-largest international coffee shop chain behind Starbucks. Its other brands include the restaurant chains Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Table Table.
During a review meeting of the ‘Finance Early Career Learning Programme’ between Whitbread and TrainingU, a training need was identified for the graduates and school leavers who had completed the above programme, to be supported with further soft skills training and one to one coaching. This training and coaching was aimed at supporting them through the transition during the first year in their roles and for Whitbread to ensure employee retention of this new valuable talent for the longer term.
It was clear that the graduates had developed good finance skills however, they had identified a range of areas that they were less experienced in:
Whitbread approached TrainingU as an already established training provider to support them with their graduates’ development needs. We began with a consultative period which was primarily made up of numerous meetings and further discussions with our facilitators. The aim of the meetings was to drill down into the specific obstacles and problems that the Graduates would be facing so that we were able to deliver the most relevant and suitable learning experience. We worked closely with Whitbread during this consultative phase to design the appropriate and preferred format and length of each session.
As a result of this consultation phase, a comprehensive and bespoke ‘Finance Graduate Learning Programme’ was created. The programme consisted of 10 modules designed around the specific learning needs of the graduates.
The programme was created to rotate over two consecutive years for each group of graduates based on their intake year. The Whitbread Finance Graduate Scheme was intended to create ‘Future Leaders’ and therefore the training was tailored with that in mind.
In order to develop the graduates in the areas above, we created the programme to encompass the following modules:
Day 1 – Leadership Skills
Day 2 – Gravitas: Personal Presence and Impact & Assertiveness
Day 3 – Influencing Skills & Managing Stakeholders
Day 4 – Management Skills
Day 5 – Presentation Skills & Resilience to Stress
Day 6 – Handling Conflict & Developing High Performing Teams
The delivery of these modules was scheduled throughout each graduate’s first and second years of the ‘Finance Early Career Learning Programme’ and as some of the modules were half day sessions, this equated to 6 individual full days of training.
We created bespoke workbooks for each graduate which they could keep hold of and bring along with them to each session. The sessions were designed to be very interactive with lots of games, activities and group discussions and so the workbooks were shaped around this.
Post course evaluations were completed at the end of each session so that we could provide continuous feedback to Whitbread. We also scheduled various catch up meetings to ensure that the programme was running smoothly and that the objectives were consistently being met.
During the Finance Graduate Learning Programme, Whitbread were able to clearly see the graduates’ considerable confidence growth and general personal development. The graduates left their second year of the ‘Finance Early Career Learning Programme’ with the tools, techniques and knowledge to develop further as they entered their final year and subsequently the start of their careers at Whitbread. The training that they received provided a comprehensive solution to their initial training needs which were identified in the review meeting between Whitbread and TrainingU.
“The programme was relevant to all, whether you have direct reports or not, the skills are transferable”
“This has been a great thought provoking session which covered things I will definitely use when in a position to do so”
“Through personal discussion, reflection and learning different skills/models this course has given me confidence to start managing in the future”
“This is the most I feel I’ve got from any training courses in my career so far with various providers. One of the things I appreciate most is [the trainer’s] flexible approach, we cover the planned content but if the conversation leads to other topics they’re always happy to adapt the content. The interactive approach also makes it really memorable, with loads of games and activities to involve the group rather than just being talked to for an hour. I can’t really give their approach enough positive feedback, I’ve found it to be very effective for me and I hope the other grads feel the same.”
Georgia Slade, Internal Control Manager
“Training U have delivered a great customised learning experience for our Finance Graduate and School Leaver population, noted by the copious amount of great feedback I get from the cohort thanking us for putting the training plan in place. It is extremely important to us that our high potential learners obtain the soft skills vital to their future careers, preparing them for Management positions once they leave the Early Careers Finance Scheme. I find Training U very easy to deal with, they always keep me informed on progress and feedback, and I would definitely recommend them to other organisations.”