Delivering pre-built course content to geographically dispersed employees

How ELMO helped New Zealand Red Cross


New Zealand Red Cross is part of the largest humanitarian network in the world and have been helping in New Zealand for more than 100 years. With more than 11,000 members and 400 staff, they are working to improve the lives of vulnerable people across the street and around the world.

Problems Experienced

" There was a lack of distribution consistency and it was a challenge to push information out."
Matthew Gutschlag - People and Culture Director at New Zealand Red Cross

New Zealand Red Cross needed a cost-effective system that could provide health and safety training to a geographically dispersed workforce. The system also had to cater to both full-time employees and volunteers working within the business.

Matthew Gutschlag, People and Culture Director at New Zealand Red Cross, says employee engagement with training was an issue as policy communication could be quite lengthy and often went unread.

“There was a lack of distribution consistency and it was a challenge to push information out,” says Gutschlag. “A lot of HR’s energy was spent making sure everyone was compliant. There were concerns about pockets in New Zealand that didn’t get the information needed, and the cost to fly trainers around New Zealand was too high.”

Gutschlag, who holds responsibilities for HR, payroll, learning & development across a workforce of 450 staff and 10,000 volunteers, recognised that New Zealand Red Cross ideally needed localised, pre-built and ready to go course content to ensure compliance.

With the added challenge that their HR team consisted of only 3 people they needed a system that was easy to use, and once implemented, didn’t require a lot of administration.

“With other systems, we’ve found you need a specialist to administer them and we didn’t want to become specialists,” Gutschlag says.


1 A need to deliver cost-effective, pre-built course content to a geographically dispersed workforce
2 Lack of employee engagement with existing training options
3 Lack of consistency in course delivery, resulting in pockets of employees with poor compliance
4 Limited HR resources to deliver training and maintain technology platforms


New Zealand Red Cross wanted a single system across all HR activities and didn’t want multiple vendors. Gutschlag says ELMO ticked all the boxes, and the organisation opted initially for the LMS and Course Builder modules, while they consider their longer term requirements with additional modules that they can elect to add on at any time.

“We wanted to use one system for everything that allowed information to flow across all HR functions,” Gutschlag says.

The organisation was also drawn to the ELMO Course Library, thanks to its compliance courses that are tailored to New Zealand, are pre-built and ready to go.

“We didn’t have the time to spend 6 months creating courses and needed flexibility to edit the course content,” says Gutschlag. “ELMO had a dozen courses up and running while other systems didn’t have any New Zealand specific compliance content.”

The Result

" The user experience has been great and there is no way ELMO can make it easier."
Matthew Gutschlag - People and Culture Directo at New Zealand Red Cross

New Zealand Red Cross had a well-planned strategy in place before launching the learning modules into the business. Staff were informed before the launch about what was coming via newsletters, the company intranet, emails, and face-to-face meetings. Some of the courses were also made compulsory to begin with, which Gutschlag says was very helpful in increasing engagement.

“It gave our employees a specific reason to get into the system and once they were in there, they could play around and see what it could do,” he says.

Gutschlag reports that implementation went smoothly. “Initially, we were concerned that the implementation would put additional strain on our team, but the amount of time we did spend on the ELMO implementation, we saved twice over in other activities. Now we [can] sit back and watch it do its thing,” he says.

Since implementation, New Zealand Red Cross has been able to reduce the paperwork for new employees by over a dozen pages per employee – all while providing greater visibility into what type of training is being undertaken. In addition, managers no longer have to print out or use checklists for employees, and HR spends a lot less time chasing up those managers for updated employee paperwork. Postage costs have also decreased now that it’s no longer necessary to send paperwork all over New Zealand.

Gutschlag says that staff are loving the self-select courses. “They are able to choose the courses they are interested in, which is building engagement and skills,” he says. “The flexibility of on-demand learning is great and it means staff can learn what they need when they need it.”

Instead of flying all over the country to deliver training, the HR team can spend that time developing new courses and this is especially important when it comes to compliance, as Gutschlag explains: “For example, our Government contractors are required to maintain their ‘working with children’ check. Training is required every 3 years and the ELMO system automatically emails alerts when re-compliance is due.”  

The New Zealand Red Cross HR team have also been impressed with course content consistency. When it comes to health and safety training, they are now confident that the same message is going out to everyone, regardless of who the trainer is.

Just as critically, Gutschlag has enjoyed working with ELMO. “They are very responsive and quick to answer questions,” he says, adding that 99% of the time the help desk is all that is required for any questions or queries.

“When you look at the system it’s simple to use, but there is obviously a lot going on in the background. The user experience has been great and there is no way ELMO can make it easier,” he says.

As a final piece of advice for those thinking of implementing a HR system, Gutschlag says it’s important to not get caught up in the hype of the system – focus on the real problems you’re looking to resolve.

“Make sure you don’t make the process harder than it has to be by implementing a difficult to manage system,” he says.

1 Improved employee skills and engagement thanks to self-select courses
2 Enhanced course content and consistency: the same message goes out to all employees
3 Greater flexibility due to on-demand training
4 Reduced paperwork and administration for HR regarding new employees
5 More time for HR to concentrate on developing new course content instead of course delivery