“Credly is clearly the premiere provider in the digital badging space, and we really needed to work with the experts to pull off transitioning to a skills-based learning organization,” Happ said. “As soon as the engagement started with the customer success team, we quickly realized that Credly and digital badging could be a critical kicking off point for so many things we wanted to do—like packaging courses together, creating learning paths based on skills, and allowing learners to share and showcase their verifiable skills.”
According to Happ, issuing badges that can be shared on social media has improved course completion rates and helped spread the word among employees about the firm’s digital badging program.
digital credential share rate
And according to badge earners within Grant Thornton, the ability to complete the courses at their own pace makes it easy to incorporate learning into daily work, and gain CPE credit hours as they progress.
“I’m an achievement-oriented person. So when I saw that I was at 73% complete and I had a free hour, I wanted to finish the pathway and earn my badge.”
-Grant Thornton digital badge earner
The culture of learning is reinforced when managers and more senior level employees complete a course and then recommend it to others, including new associates.
The digital badging program also allows Happ to put data behind Grant Thornton’s learning and development strategies. Metadata from each Credly badge provides valuable insights into who is completing each course and, combined with other sources of assessment data, Happ can see and share with managers how these learners’ productivity compares to employees who haven’t earned a badge.
The Success of the Manager Development Program
Grant Thornton’s Manager Development Program (MDP) is a testament to the transformation in learning and development enabled by digital credentialing.
All employees promoted to a manager role are enrolled in MDP to give them the tools they need to perform as a leader in the company. While the curriculum was well received, the program team wanted to boost learner engagement in the program.
The learning team worked to create an Experienced-level badge that could be earned if the manager completed a specific set of criteria over the course of a year. The incentive to earn the digital badge proved successful, and of the 232 new managers who finished MDP last year, 83 committed to and earned the Experienced-level MDP badge.
Happ then compared the productivity metrics of managers who achieved the badge with those who didn’t, and found the following:
- MDP badge earners managed an average of 18% more total monetary value in their engagements than non-badge earners.
- MDP badge earners exceeded their target number of “billable hours” by 0.9% while those who did not earn the badge fell short of their target by an average of 0.2%.
Happ acknowledges that it’s unclear whether the results were causation or correlation. But at the very least the data helps identify employees with a growth mindset who could be considered hi-potentials—information that will help with career pathing within Grant Thornton.
Forging the Future with a Skills-Based Organization
Happ is excited to dive further into the analytics provided by the digital badges to continue to optimize learning journeys for each employee. Program metrics provide insights into which programs are working, which have room for improvement, and how they foretell future performance.
One of the firm’s next steps is to launch a Skills Framework. Built by their Professional Skills Learning Leader, Adrianne Claybrooks, the Skills Framework distills job responsibilities and expectations into a set of core skills for each job level and bucketed into the categories of: leadership, inclusive collaboration, business and digital acumen, growth and industry, and operational savvy. Future initiatives and digital badges will be aligned to top skills in the framework.
However, Happ and the learning team understand that putting a framework in place is only the first step in this ongoing business transformation. Getting people to buy into the skills-based organization concept and new learning and development strategies will require additional incentives and better visibility into learners’ behavior. The learning team has several initiatives planned to continue this journey, and digital badging will continue to play a central role.
“Credly was really the first step in transitioning Grant Thornton into a skills-based organization. We look forward to seeing what we can do with digital badging and the rich information it gives us to optimize learning journeys for our employees and ultimately enable our skills-based approach to business.”
-Amy Happ, Director of Leadership Development and Learning Innovation
Grant Thornton LLP