Training employees quickly and efficiently

Etex Group is an international supplier of roofing and building materials. The Belgian company was founded in 1905 under the name Eternit. After more than a hundred years of steady growth, the family business, which has been operating as the Etex Group since 1995, has become a true multinational company with approximately 15,000 employees at 142 locations in 42 countries.

In a world of rapid urbanization and climate change, where raw materials and energy are scarce and at the same time there is a huge demand for housing, Etex Group focuses on innovative, lightweight construction solutions for the interior and exterior of homes and buildings.

The challenge: knowledge assurance and newcomers

Safety is key at Etex Group. In the construction industry, being careful when working is of course a given. But when you know that many employees work on a daily basis with equipment like cherry pickers, forklifts, and so on, you understand why Etex Group attaches so much importance to safety.

‘Moreover, they often work with unique tools for which there are no ready-made training courses available,’ says Patrick Cornelissens, Shop Floor Training Coordinator at Etex Belgium. ‘So we have to train our people entirely in-house.’

Why choose FLOWSPARKS?

Etex Group has no fewer than 32 trainers in Belgium for this purpose. ‘The trainers used to literally tag along with someone, like a shadow. That’s not efficient, obviously, because you have two people doing the work of a newcomer,’ says Cornelissens. An additional challenge is that since the COVID-19 pandemic, qas many as a third of all employees in Belgium have been with Etex for less than a year. ‘And over the next six years, 150 out of 500 employees will leave the company because they’re retiring, because they’re taking time off or because they’re starting a new job elsewhere. Naturally we don’t want their unique knowledge and experience to disappear with them.’

Storytelling with video

Video tutorials became the way to accelerate knowledge transfer and make learning more attractive and accessible. Equipped with a GoPro, experienced employees began filming what they did. ‘It used to take four days to put together a training on the subject of gas refuelling,’ Cornelissens says. ‘The result was a boring five-page text read by one person in 80. People learn by seeing what they should and shouldn’t do, not by reading about it.’

‘And actually, a training about gas refuelling is all about storytelling, so video is a perfect medium for that’. Cornelissens often employs students from technical fields for content creation. They talk to employees, have excellent knowledge about modern video tools and their external, youthful outlook is often enriching.

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Attract young professionals

When we introduce the Etex Group in schools to young people who are about to graduate, they don’t ask ‘What will we earn?’ or ‘How much leave do we get?’ but ‘What can we learn when we start working for you?’ It makes us really happy to be able to show them our video training courses in FLOWSPARKS.

FLOWSPARKS in practice

It is the people on the shop floor who are the content experts for the trainings. If they see that work instructions have to be modified, they do so themselves and pass it on to Learning & Development for approval.

Through FLOWSPARKS, the work instructions are presented in an attractive manner and are accessible to anyone who needs them via video walls. ‘Without FLOWSPARKS, we could never have trained employees so quickly, especially with the recent staff turnover we’ve had’, says Cornelissens. ‘And yes, you do need to invest some time in generating content, but you soon earn that investment back.’

For example, before the arrival of FLOWSPARKS, one employee was responsible full-time for refueling the forklifts. We now have 85 forklift drivers who can refuel themselves thanks to the training in FLOWSPARKS. ‘Just by creating this training, one FTE has become available and we can also offer a more varied range of tasks.’

Did you know?

Did you know that Patrick’s family history is closely intertwined with Etex’s history? Patrick’s great-grandparents worked for the company more than 100 years ago, as did subsequent generations. Patrick himself has worked at Etex since 1984. As an operator and supervisor in various departments, he got to know the company inside out. That, of course, makes Patrick the ideal Learning & Development specialist, which is living proof that everyone can work with FLOWSPARKS.

Patrick’s son currently works at the Etex Group too. He is the fifth generation in the Etex family. What better proof is there that Etex is a top employer that does everything to pass on knowledge and experience from generation to generation? In Patrick’s case, even within one family.