Alison Noon-Jones is the interim HR director for DS Smith’s Paper Division. Cloud Sustainability’s Dan Botterill spoke to her about the company’s training strategy and how it is engaging with its employees across the business.
Dan: Why did you decide to focus on employee training in waste and resource management?
Alison: At DS Smith we recognise the value of training throughout the organisation and we aim to offer relevant and valuable training solutions to all of our people. As a leading international packaging and recycling business, effective waste and resource management is fundamental to all of our operations and we have a responsibility to ensure we are up-to-date and well-informed on waste policy, legislation and best practice. This clearly delivers strong benefits for our people, the company and also for our customers.
DS Smith’s corporate values and company focus are increasingly shifting away from “waste” and towards “resource management”. The training has enabled us to enrich employee knowledge of the waste versus resource debate and develop strong knowledge improvements in this area.
What are the core components of the training programme you have been working on with Cloud Sustainability?
So far we have rolled out a number of different online e-learning courses to approximately 20 percent of our employees, across 10 different departments within DS Smith Recycling. This includes the Cloud Sustainability Waste Expert, an interactive CIWM-accredited compliance module called The Journey of Waste, and WasteSmart.
This training programme aims to give a broad introduction to the principles of best practice and legislative compliant waste and resource management, enabling learners to fully understand their responsibilities for effective waste management, as well as the responsibilities of their customers. The training has also helped learners better visualise resource processes, supply chain cycles and circular thinking principles, which are all embedded within DS Smith’s core business principles.
Why did you choose e-learning as the foundation of your approach?
To us, the e-learning provided a cost-effective, flexible and engaging approach to training. Learners have been able to work through the courses at a time that suits them best, either over several small sessions or a few longer sessions. It really represents a modern and progressive way of delivering training which appreciates that different learners have different paces and learning styles.
Some have worked through the courses very quickly, whilst others have taken more time, but importantly the e-learning approach also means that every learner has a valuable online resource that they can refer to time and time again, should they wish to recap on anything.
DS Smith also recognises the benefit of being able to invest in knowledge development without having to take employees out of the office for long periods of time, which can be disruptive to wider operations.
What do you think the other benefits of the training have been?
The feedback we have received from the learners has been incredibly positive and encouraging. Employees have increased their awareness, their breadth of knowledge has progressed, and this in turn has increased their confidence and passion when speaking with customers about resource management. The fact the training has empowered them with new knowledge is already starting to benefit our customer care activities.
What is your ultimate vision for training at DS Smith?
We see the benefits of training across our entire business, not only in the UK but across our wider European operations. Our focus has initially been on providing the training within the UK, but as a global business we are already exploring the opportunities to roll-out the programme to other divisions and other countries.
To align knowledge with our corporate values, we are already seeing the potential for this training, and other training initiatives, to be integrated and valuable in every part of the business. The training also aligns well with other DS Smith programmes, such as our Engaging Managers programme, which is a manager-level training programme rolled out right across Europe.
Read the full interview with Alison Noon-Jones in the next issue of the CIWM Journal