Lush is a cosmetics company that operates globally, focusing on the production and selling of organic creams, lotions, shampoos and masks. This privately owned company (https://uk.lush.com/) is headquartered in Poole, Dorset, United Kingdom and created by a herbal trichologist, Liz Weir in 1995. Currently, the company has more than 1,000 stores and 13,000 employees worldwide, including the United States, Canada, Europe, China, the Middle East, et cetera. Lush performs on the basis of partnerships and private invitations, which ensures a high quality of its products.
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This company adopts the no advertising campaign, relying on user-generated content and denying TV campaigns. Only fresh fruits, vegetables, essential oils and other organic ingredients are used in the course of production. The company’s target market is composed of women aged between 18 and 45, who live in urban areas. Accordingly, some of the products are labelled for a particular age group, while others are relevant for all the customers.
The main idea proposed by Lush is making products by hand and using no or little preservatives to deliver organic cosmetics. 85% of the ingredients are vegan, and 100% are vegetarian, while parabens are used in some creams for preservation purposes (Our values 2019). The aspect of freshness is one of the key priorities assigned by the company to its products due to its positive impact on hair and skin. Since all the products are organic, their storage period is approximately 14 months, and the stores do not sell those that are older than 4-5 months (Our values 2019).
Such an approach demonstrates that Lush strives to make its customers happier by offering them the finest face, body and personal care products. The vision of this company may be formulated as follows: to invest in good products, recognise the rightness of customers and benefit from it. The honesty and transparency are regarded as the key principles, which guide the way Lush designs, packs and sells its products.
In terms of the corporate social responsibility (CSR), Lush focuses on ethical packaging, buying and campaigning. The so-called “naked” goods are offered for the purchase of bath bombs, shower gels, reusable knot-wraps and so on. Ethical buying adopted in Lush implies building trustful and close relationships with people, communities and land, which means that ethics is important during all the processes that take place in the company (A Lush life: we believe 2019).
In purchasing the raw materials, the company opposes the suppliers that practice animal testing. Instead, human volunteers are considered to test new samples of cosmetics. The Lush Prize, which encourages lobbyists and researchers to fight against animal testing, grants a £250,000 prize. In addition, in terms of the Charity Pot campaign, the company donates 100% of the profit to environmental protection and animal welfare organisations.
This paper intends to identify the needs of Assistant Store Managers and Sales Associates who work directly with the customers. In the context of relying on communication as a powerful tool to engage customers, employee training cannot be overestimated. The company’s organisational structure is determined as a flat management style with separate levels of management, including executives, secretaries, and lower-level personnel.
The paramount benefit of such an organisation is that Lush can easily implement decisions, and this process allows avoiding bureaucracy that is inherent to multi-level companies. Among the key competitors of Lush, it is possible to note such cosmetics corporations as Sephora, L’Oréal, Natura, the Body Shop, and Avon. Since Lush is a multinational company that operates all over the world, some changes concerning culture are to be considered, yet the training strategies that are discussed on this paper are relevant regardless of specific cultural traditions.
Designing the Employee Training Program
Learning Needs Analysis
Today, more and more companies become aware that the professional and communicative qualities of employees often play a decisive role in ensuring its competitiveness in the market. One of the most viable ways to improve the professional level of specialists is corporate training (McGuire 2014). According to Stewart and Cureton (2014), training is a special form of education that is aimed at changing or developing a person’s knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to increase the effectiveness of his or her activity. The focal objective of training is the development of specific skills and abilities to effectively manage the organisation, sales, et cetera (Stewart & Cureton 2014; Milhem, Abushamsieh & Pérez Aróstegui 2014).
As a rule, this is done through business and role-playing games, exercises, group discussions and other methods. Before designing the employee training program, it is essential to identify the needs encountered by them.
For this paper, the sales department of Lush is chosen to prepare the employee training program. Since the company has numerous sales departments in various countries, it is important to adopt a comprehensive approach and consider them as a whole. While the chief department located in the UK sets the key goals related to sales and disseminates them to the stores, the latter are expected to implement these decisions in practice (Why work at Lush 2019).
Therefore, the entire chain of sales should be viewed as an intertwined process that should be improved as a result of training. Although the members of Lush can be responsible for different operations, one should stress that they follow a single mission of offering customers a high-quality product and building fruitful relationships (Lush people 2019). The most significant function performed by the sales persons is making sure that clients receive exactly what they want and become happy.
The learning needs analysis (LNA) of Lush company shows that its employees have a range of training needs, including diversity awareness, cultural competence and communication skills. In particular, the review of the official reports revealed that Lush pays attention to promote diversity, equal pay and proper treatment of all people regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity, disability and any perceived difference (Gender Pay gap report 2017).
Accordingly, there is a need to recognise and respect diversity in both internal and external environments (Mazzei 2014). As people who directly impact the company’s image and interaction with the customers, the sales department members should be properly trained to meet the above mentioned ideas. The other needs, communication skills and cultural competence, reflect the importance of relationship building as a process of collaboration between the employees and clients (Directors’ report 2018). The company’s official website also demonstrates the need for hiring a qualified educator, who can take leadership positions and motivate the staff (Careers at Lush 2019). Among the key required communications skills, there are active listening, conflict resolution, presentation and empathy.
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In order to identify the learning needs of employees working for Lush, observations and questionnaires were applied. As Lush operates in the field of service, it was suggested to focus on communication as the core of needs analysis. The method of observation involves observing the work of personnel for the purpose of identifying learning needs and then discussing the conclusions made along with the plans for the future. The observation of the work of other colleagues, which any employee is engaged in, becomes precisely the method of training, when the goal is set (McGuire 2014). The roles are distributed, and learning needs are determined based on the results of observation.
Correctly processed observation results provide an opportunity to assess competencies and take these assessments into account with conclusions from other assessment procedures. While the advantages of observations include their inexpensiveness and actual information, validity and reliability act as disadvantages. The combination of interviews with observations allowed discovering the areas in which training is required, while this information was extensively gathered and synthesised to make relevant conclusions.
Interviewing is one of the most popular methods of collecting information about an employee within assessment procedures to identify the level of motivation, competence or satisfaction. The application of standardised interviews based on Problem, Action, Result, Learned and Applied (PARLA) structure was chosen. It allowed evaluating specific criteria and competencies through the experience of the employee.
The given structure covers the necessary area of behaviour, making it impossible to get carried away by intuitive sensations. It is a way to purposefully collect information on competencies that did not appear during the assessment activities or which are selected along with other criteria; for example, test results or KPI performance). The resistance of some employees and a lack of understanding the purpose of the interview were the challenges. The revealed learning needs point to the importance of this analysis that lies in the proper evaluation of employee behaviour and the building the foundation for further training. In turn, the learning needs analysis affects not only staff but also the overall effectiveness and profitability of the company since continuous learning leads to timely improvements.
Training activities have a great impact on people acting as buyers and sellers. Its goals are such as achieving the maximum consumer satisfaction, providing them with the widest possible choice and enhancing the quality of life (3 top lessons on how Lush employees improve customer experience 2015). The key objective is to enrich customer experience, and the means of achieving it should be the application of the concept of social and ethical training (Gilliland 2018).
The interest in this area is growing as more and more organisations in the field of entrepreneurship in the international sphere realise how exactly training contributes to successful performance. Thus, training is necessary as a concentration of knowledge and experience, both of an educator and all group members, in which skills are obtained in close connection with the practice, which means that they are acquired effectively.
Employee Training Program
Training is distinguished by the activity of all participants, with particular attention being paid to obtaining practical skills that can be used in practice immediately after the sessions. It takes place in the mode of action, the analysis of the experience gained and feedback of participants, which makes it possible to explore both successful and unsuccessful methods and strategies for interacting within the team and with customers (Aronczyk 2016).
For Lush, the employee training program will consist of five sessions conducted at five different days, each of which will be designed in a different format to engage them and make the process more exciting. Since the three training needs identified in the previous section of this paper are interrelated, the objective can be formulated as a single statement. In terms of the specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound (SMART) structure, the objective is to improve employee’s diversity and culture awareness and promote their communication skills. The learners should be able to interact with customers effectively, attract their attention and turn it to the company’s products and remain respectful and sensitive.
It seems to be relevant to use the theoretical framework elaborated by Salas and Cannon-Bowers to design the learning program that will include such stages as presenting information, clarifying expected attitudes and behaviours, practice opportunities and feedback (Milhem, Abushamsieh & Pérez Aróstegui 2014). The core advantage of this strategy is that it systematically approaches the process of knowledge and skill acquisition and pays attention to human learning principles that point to the need to reinforce learners and provide the place for understanding mistakes.
At the first stage of training, the lecture method should include relevant materials should be prepared and structured so that employees can easily access and understand them. From the very beginning, they should be given the rationale for conducting this training since people who are not aware of the importance of an activity are not likely to be engaged in it (Beevers & Rea 2016; Li & Zheng 2014; Hanaysha 2016). The educator should work on the setting the plan of training sessions, including the materials, tasks and questions pertinent to the topics to be discussed.
The workplace diversity promotion should be seen as the investment in the creation of a positive workplace environment. The first session should be devoted to the explanation of the material and providing the resources for the independent learning (Table 1). More to the point, the educator should be ready to meet some resistance from employees, having the ideas to address it. Therefore, educational materials and overall discussion should be linked to the company’s vision of diversity and emphasis on the fact that all people are different (Mikkelson, York & Arritola 2015; Nawaz et al. 2014). It is also critical to ensure that all management personnel also follow the promoted principles.
The second session is to be focused on the development of cultural competences of employees based on group activities, such as delivering presentations and brainstorming. Cultural competence development is the ability to raise personally through continuous study and good comprehension of different cultural heritage, wisdom and cultural values, as well as the ability to communicate and interact successfully with people from different cultural groups.
Considering that Lush employees work in different countries and are expected to interact with each other, this issue cannot be overestimated. To strengthen the physical component, one should train behavioural skills, enhance the cognitive element and apply creative thinking. For example, employees will familiarise with several situations from business practice and try to identify general principles. The educator should help employees in immersing in a cultural environment that they need to master, paying attention to race, religion, gender and nationality matters. The coordination of plans should take into account the degree of development of elements of cultural competence shown by the staff.
The second part of the second session will be devoted to communication skills that are necessary in order to establish communication between the management and employees, building effective interaction with colleagues and thereby ensuring effective data exchange without information and time loss. As for communication with clients, the ability to understand customers and their needs, ask questions and practice active listening ensures building mutual trust (Gardetti 2017; Lee, Kim & Kim 2014).
They would seem easy and simple skills, but, in fact, they can be met quite rarely since they require focused work and efforts. Communication in sales as the transmission of significant messages between the client and seller can be based on various skills. For example, setting clear messages, using proper body language, simplifying ideas and engaging listeners are the main priorities.
The third stage of this training program will aim to master the material offered within the previous sections based on discussion, which is to be guided by open-ended questions designed by the instructor. Also, the employees should be asked to prepare questions regarding the issues that are complicated or incomprehensible, which should be clarified. The role of the educator at this session sis to address any doubts, resistance and challenges faced by employees with regard to the mentioned topics (Nelis 2014; Sahota 2014). It is possible to expect that employees would provide some examples from their experience, which should be encouraged by the educator to link the theoretical considerations to practice.
In terms of the fourth session, the instructor is to provide feedback in terms of coaching to the previous session and knowledge demonstrated by employees in the course of case studies. Upon the completion of this session, each of the employees should be aware of his or her strengths and weaknesses in the professional area. In the context of human resource development (HRD), the method of gaming can be applied to make the process of learning more interesting, which is likely to promote greater effectiveness.
Ultimately, the last session is to be based on the use of microblogs in social media, for example, Twitter, where employees would share their opinions about the program and experience gained. The educator would be expected to provide the concluding marks about the preliminary results, lessons learned and the practical use of new skills. Also, this session would provide the opportunity to start the subsequent evaluation phase to determine the impact of the employee education program.
|Activities||Diversity recognition||Cultural awareness; communications |
|Discussing skills and knowledge obtained||Feedback; case studies; |
Table 1. Employee training program plan by sessions.
The identified methods were chosen due to their great potential to deliver training messages and ensure that the learners master t4necessary knowledge and skills. In particular, lecture and coaching allow presenting information, even though they lack some involvement of the target audience. Microblogs, group activities and discussion provide the benefits of working in a team, sharing opinions and building strong arguments. The disadvantages of these methods include detailed preparation of sessions and a lack of an individual approach to each of the learners. The suggested sequence of sessions is expected to enhance learning transfer from broad and theoretic data to its practical implementation.
In case a company has a perfect team, sending employees to training will not be difficult. However, most often, people are not so motivated and agree to study with some discontent, even though the training is held at the expense of the company. In this connection, the proposed program should include a few steps so that training is not a burden and brings benefits to Lush. It is important to explain to employees why learning is necessary, clearly outlining the problem to solve through training and telling what they will learn and how it will affect their work. It is worth listening to their ideas and suggestions to adjust the program to some extent. If a large group is recruited, both successful workers and newcomers can be included. The weaker ones will reach for the leaders, and even if at first they were not eager to get training, then they would be surely involved into it.
Considering Delivery Methods
Human capital is the stock of skills, knowledge and enthusiasms that every employee possesses to some extent. The investments in human capital can be education, the accumulation of industrial experience, health protection, geographical mobility and information search. The costs of its formation are investments since they involve the transfer of resources from the present to the future: an investor (for example, a student) donates part of the income today to get a higher income tomorrow.
Accordingly, the training program proposed in this paper is conducted with the aim of investing in the company’s human capital to have such benefits as customer satisfaction and increased profits. Lush can be considered from the perspective of the unitarianism theory – as an enterprise that is characterised by a centralised leadership of units and the absence of independent state formations in its composition. In other words, training can integrate all the employees from various stores and locations so that they can learn together and share valuable skills and knowledge. Therefore, the key method of the training program delivery will be e-learning.
Recently, e-learning, also known as distance learning, has become one of the most promising training methods. It involves the use of the Internet, through which the employees obtain the materials, including visuals, for studying along with assignments (Conde et al. 2014; Dodson, Kitburi & Berge 2015). The level of assimilation of information is then determined by control and tests, which can be done for a whole group or individually in the office or at home, at any convenient time. However, for this form of training, an employee must have a high level of self-organisation. The first two sessions are to be based on a virtual platform (Google Docs, Sharepoint or Zoho), which allow uploading pertinent files, videos and other formats to present it to employees.
The integrated collaborative workplace should be accessible and intuitively simple to use. It is critical to compose the instructions and give them to each employee. For example, how to register on the website of the platform, how to enter a username and password or how to enter the program- all these issues should be clear (Hanaysha & Tahir 2016; Landers & Goldberg 2014). In particular, Google Docs can be used for free, while everything is stored in the cloud. If the computer crashes, the information will remain intact, and this platform can also work with cloud storages. All the information should remain available during the whole course of education so that employees can easily access it if required.
The method of group discussions promotes a greater activity of employees involving them into the process, which is to be used for the third session. The dialogue allows finding whether the theoretical material is mastered or not. The effectiveness of employee training, in this case, largely depends on the environment the teacher will create and whether he or she will be able to induce his students to think (Ayarekar & Pawar 2017; Pandey & Pande 2014).
However, the traditional discussions limit the number of participants, and it is unlikely that thousands people can fully communicate with a single educator. Video conferencing becomes increasingly widespread, allowing enhancing communication efficiency and saving on business trips. Video calling in many situations is more effective than making a phone call. For example, if necessary, the educator can demonstrate any documents, schedules and projects. Such factors as time and travel expenses along with the possibility of the interaction between teachers and employees improve the effectiveness of distance learning using video conferencing.
Business games are another learning method, in which employees receive new information by “playing” certain situations. In such conditions, knowledge is acquired as quickly as possible, and skills are developed, which are applied in real conditions (the fourth session). Usually, after a direct game, there is a debriefing that helps to identify and correct the mistakes made (Dalveren 2014; Mohammadyari & Singh 2015). For effective staff training, the educator can use case studies, which consist of examining practical situations (cases) in which a group of employees analyses and discusses a real or possible situation related to their activities.
This approach allows people to be encouraged to think alternatively. Each participant has the right to express his or her own opinion and correlate it with those of others. However, in this case, a qualified instructor is needed, which makes training more costly. The fourth session includes feedback, and the last session can be built on the use of Twitter as the means of interaction between employees working in the same or similar stores.
The risk of the low motivation of employees in training can be solved by developing a high-quality system of incentives that determine the relationship between the level of qualification of an employee and career growth, as well as material incentives. In such a situation, it may be optimal to conduct a confidential conversation with an employee, explain the reasons for the training and jointly develop alternative methods for the practical application of knowledge.
This will help to avoid demotivation of employees, a drop in the level of involvement in labour activity, as well as maintain a level of loyalty to management and understanding of the organisation’s development strategy. To deal with high and low contributors, the trainer is expected to engage the former and address group conflicts professionally. Even though group discussion can suppress some individuals, they have the opportunity to improve their communication skills through these challenges. The identified methods of training delivery compose a unique style that is to be managed and implemented by a trainer.
In addition to the role of the trainer, mentoring can be added as one of the methods of staff training when an experienced employee shares knowledge with a beginner. The main advantage is that employees can develop at the workplace: in this case, the mentor provides only knowledge that can be immediately used in practice. The employees should have what they need to start training, which is easy to ensure in the office. In addition to the computer and Internet access, special programs may be needed. Among the expected benefits of the proposed training program, it is possible to note the systematisation of knowledge.
When teaching a beginner, the mentor arranges the experience systematically and forms a curriculum, which can then be used to prepare other interns, while the experienced employee devotes less time to basic tasks. With a mentor, the period for adapting a newcomer to a company reduces due to consolidate knowledge and skills and correcting errors. The level of corporate culture tends to grow, and the company develops a system of internal evaluation and expertise.
The physical environment will be designed in a herring bone style to ensure that all the participants are convenient to observe the educator. To improve space effectiveness, accessibility and safety issues will be considered, paying attention to entrance, windows, equipment, et cetera. Heating and refreshments are to be taken into account to make the participants feel comfortable yet concentrated. The preparation of learners in the program was discussed in the previous section of this paper.
Identifying Evaluation Strategies
To assess the quality of the training system, it is proposed to use the m of expert assessments in terms of Kirkpatrick’s four levels, where the quality evaluation is carried out by a professional. The purpose of collecting the information necessary to measure training performance indicators is to establish the impact of training on the level of knowledge of employees and how this is manifested in the financial indicators of the company (Larkin 2014).
In addition, the interviews with employees may be utilised to rest their skills and knowledge. In particular, such examinations should be conducted in the branches that participated in training. The outcome of training is to be assessed within three months after it to allow employees translating their knowledge and skills in practice. The extent to which the learners are able to meet the stated objectives is to be measured. The results are to be presented to Lush in a structured report format with the detailed recommendations.
The evaluation of the competence of an employee is important to meet professional standards and improve their ability to cope with specific job responsibilities composes another method. For example, structured behavioural interviews are beneficial due to their predictive value. This type of interview can be conducted not only for current employees but also when evaluating the employees applying for vacancies, and when forming a personnel reserve and summing up the results of the development and training program. The advantage of such interviewing is the ability to quantify the development of a particular competency (Kirkpatrick & Kirkpatrick 2016).
A quantitative assessment along with a description of behavioural manifestations allows the interviewer not only to compare candidates or employees with each other, but also to clearly substantiate their assessment since it is based not on vague feelings or emotions, yet on the description of specific examples.
The systematic assessment model that consists of four main elements seems to be pertinent to better understand the impact of the program. The context evaluation implies the assessment of the organisational environment: the competent setting of goals and objectives of staff training, matching training outcomes with needs (Kimiloglu, Ozturan & Kutlu 2017). The process evaluation is the assessment of the process, involving the conformity of the actual situation with the developed plan and training program, resulting in the definition of intermediate results. The product evaluation – in this case, the learning outcomes, point to determining the degree of achievement of goals and amending plans. This model allows evaluating the entire learning system, both the process and the results.
A business simulation is an immersion in a real business with the safe management of a virtual company, a vision of interconnected business processes, the need to make decisions in a competitive environment and the ability to analyse the result. This modern method of learning evaluation is a viable solution for the breakthrough development of managerial competencies. Case interviews or case testing are usually called internal specialised tests of a company that are not related to the formation of an overall assessment of staff qualifications (Ford 2014).
Examining the degree of fulfilment of the declared tests, the HR specialists draw up a qualitative assessment of the professional portrait of the employees. Using the discussed methods for assessing the effectiveness of training would allow substantiating the importance of training in the general system of staff, determine the rationality of using certain teaching methods and also identify defects at different stages of training to adjust the program for further successful work of the company.
To conclude, it should be stated that this paper proposes the employee training program for Lush, the organic cosmetics company. Based on the review of the company’s products, current environment, official reports and the emerging tendencies in the field of customer experience, it was revealed that there are certain training needs. In particular, cultural awareness, diversity recognition and communication skills were noted as the issues that should be improved. The designed program implies five sessions that are to be conducted at five different days, both in a traditional manner and online.
E-learning as the method that allows educating employees at a convenient time, location and pace was chosen as the key strategy. The use of the virtual document sharing platform, videoconferencing and microblogging are the key training delivery methods. It is expected to evaluate the program effectiveness based on the professional expertise, interviews with employees, case studies and business simulation. Feedback to employee performance is another instrument that should be implanted to ensure that necessary lessons are learned, and errors are corrected.
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