Tesco uses Tableau to better understand the training needs of thousands of employees


Data-driven insights successfully link L&D investment to ROI
Disparate data sources brought together in one dashboard drastically improves speed to insight
Ability to identify L&D trends helps Tesco respond quickly to employee training needs

Tesco is using Tableau within its Customer Engagement Centre in order to better understand the training needs of 1,000+ employees, as well as demonstrate a tangible return on investment (ROI) on its Learning and Development (L&D) programme. Tableau enables Tesco to unlock important insights that help them deliver impactful L&D programmes for employees and the business.

Without Tableau, important insights would still be going undiscovered, buried in spreadsheets and forms spread across the business.

Demonstrating ROI on Learning and Development

It’s estimated that more than £40 billion is spent on training in the United Kingdom, making it a significant area of investment for many organisations. However, employee development is notoriously difficult to quantify and, without the right tools in place, Tesco found it challenging to accurately understand what kind of return it was making on its investment.

“Tesco takes employee development very seriously and is extremely proud of its L&D programme,” says Derek Mitchell, Insight and Analytics Manager at Tesco’s Customer Engagement Centre, in the UK. “But prior to using Tableau, it was almost impossible to really understand how that investment was affecting key areas such as employee efficiency, or satisfaction over the long term.” When Derek joined the business in 2019, Tableau was already in use at its Dundee campus, but not to its full potential.

“Employees were analysing single Excel files in Tableau, but there was no consolidation of data sources or advanced functionality in use,” says Derek. “Additionally, a lot of L&D data was stored across multiple disparate sources, making it very hard to analyse in a comprehensive manner.”

Derek’s team began by consolidating all three major L&D data sources – performance data in SQL Server, attendee feedback in Microsoft Forms, and L&D sentiment in Excel – together in Tableau, replacing 74 individual data charts with one single source of truth. His team then combined key information from those data sets together for the first time in a dedicated dashboard, revealing three key areas where ROI could be tangibly demonstrated to the senior leadership team. These areas included: learner sentiment towards the training experience, learner confidence in the topic, and learner performance against KPI’s post-training.

“By comparing attendee feedback from Microsoft Forms against performance data in SQL Server, we started seeing some interesting patterns,” says Derek. “For instance, we were able to see for the first time that simply looking at whether attendees enjoyed an experience was no predictor of a shift in performance post-training.”

“Without Tableau, important insights like this would still be going undiscovered, buried in spreadsheets and forms spread across the business,” continues Derek. “Now we can use them to create tangible links between the training we are providing and the improvements in everyday employee performance, which is invaluable.”

Now we can use Tableau to create tangible links between the training we are providing and the improvements in everyday employee performance, which is invaluable.

Proactively tracking the training needs of over 1,000 employees

Using Tableau, Tesco can proactively track the L&D needs of employees right down to an individual level.

“By importing all performance and learning data into Tableau and visualising the two together, we can see individual employee performance across a wide range of business areas,” says Derek. “Then we can analyse this against which L&D courses they have attended recently, which not only tells us if additional training may be required, but also which existing courses are the most effective and which need further refinement.”

At Tesco, they are using Tableau to analyse written feedback from training course attendees, uncovering key insights that were otherwise nearly impossible to spot. “It’s pretty hard to quantify written comments using conventional tools. So much of the post-course attendee feedback of this nature was simply stored in an Excel file where little had been done with it,” explains Derek. “Using Tableau, we were able to parse out all the comments into individual words, then visualise them in word clouds using a sentiment engine.”

“When we looked at the word clouds, we found that 25 percent of all negative comments were about the temperature of the room during the course, while a further 13 percent were about problems with system access from those trying to attend courses remotely,” adds Derek. “These are the kinds of insights we’d never have realised without the visual analysis Tableau lets us do. But armed with this knowledge, we can quickly eradicate some of the biggest pain points for attendees in just a few simple steps.”

By importing all performance and learning data into Tableau and visualising the two together, we can see individual employee performance across a wide range of business areas.

Automated reporting saves thousands of hours annually

Before Tableau, Tesco employed two full-time staff members dedicated exclusively to producing Excel reports on L&D activity. Now, nearly all reporting is automated in Tableau, saving thousands of hours annually and allowing Tesco’s L&D experts to focus on effective training and improving content, rather than time-consuming manual reporting tasks. “As soon as somebody submits a piece of L&D feedback on a standardised form, it gets pulled into Tableau where it’s joined up with all their performance data for the four weeks pre-learning and four weeks post-learning,” says Derek. “From there it’s automatically compared against their peers, helping us to proactively track their L&D needs.”

As part of this automation process, Tesco has decreased the number of questions asked to train course attendees, improving the overall feedback response rate. “Previously we would ask course attendees 28 separate questions, which led to a high dropout rate,” says Derek. “Now, we ask everyone the same five questions, reducing effort by 80 percent. The result is a much higher response rate, giving us a richer, more consistent data set that we can analyse in Tableau and use to improve future L&D offerings.”

Looking to the future

The impact Tableau has made on Tesco’s L&D efforts within such a short amount of time has not gone unnoticed to other areas of the organisation. Benefits of flexibility, ease-of-use and scalability have made Tableau integral to making data-driven decisions, with an impact reaching beyond L&D. “People see how easy Tableau makes it to understand complex data sets and they soon want to know how they can apply it to their own business areas,” explains Derek.