There are estimated to be 100,000 sellers and servers of alcohol currently employed in New Zealand. With the introduction of new legislation, all staff serving and selling alcohol needed to be brought up to speed on their obligations and well versed in best practice interventions. Training for sellers and servers of alcohol was previously ad hoc and based on identified need across the hospitality industry. This training was delivered by either regulatory agencies or individual management, providing plenty of gaps and a lack of a level playing field in the licensed arena.
If HPA was to make a positive difference, they needed to get buy-in and approval from authorities, agencies, businesses and staff. Discussions with these stakeholders revealed a number of challenges with the existing learning, such as: availability of training and ease of access, cost, and a noticeable lack of motivation to undertake the training. HPA partnered with Kineo to address these barriers and conduct effective workshops with key stakeholders so that the learning solution would capture industry best practice across a wide range of contexts and meet the needs of all industry groups.
The learning was targeted at anyone intending to serve or supply alcohol in licensed premises. That means both sellers of alcohol in off-licensed scenarios (i.e., bottle stores and supermarkets) and servers of alcohol in on-licensed settings (i.e., bars, restaurants, cafes, clubs and entertainment venues) across New Zealand. To pull this wide demographic into the learning, the solution needed to:
- have an interesting and fun approach to what could be considered dry, technical content
- give learners choices – in particular, being able to ‘skip’ learning if they had the skills and attempt challenges straight away
- allow learners to test consequences of their actions and even fail, in a safe environment
- provide a real context for the learning to practice the actual decisions and activities they would experience
- be broken up into short chunks of five to ten minutes to fit their learners’ on-the-go working environment.
Kineo developed a fully bespoke solution and innovative game which deploys via a Totara Learn platform and is linked to the HPA website for easy access.
Upon launching the game, learners tailor their experience by selecting the role that best matches their job and personalise their own avatar.
The goal the game was to focus on grey areas, where answers were not black and white. Normal processes for serving alcohol were also incorporated, such as how to check an ID. So it was important that activities within the game simulate real-life. This was done not only by using video and 3D animations, but also in the way content was portrayed. Drawing from the large reference group and stakeholders, Kineo made the scenarios and activities very lifelike. Kineo recorded video of real bar staff re-enacting how they have handled situations, and for the animations, Kineo recorded actors to create the digital models. The police, HPA and other key stakeholders were involved in the animations and recordings to ensure the movements were an accurate depiction of intoxication.
According to Alex Biedermann, National Beer Ambassador at Dominion Breweries, 'it’s ‘an absolute outstanding tool that keeps you interested throughout the whole length of the course'.
To work through the game, learners must successfully complete activities within challenges to be awarded a high score. As they unlock new levels, they are rewarded with super-server essentials. There is an overview within each challenge explaining what the learner needs to do to progress, the difficulty rating, and the highest score possible. By creating a pass and a high score for each activity, the goal was to encourage learners to try again and refine their skills.
The idea for the game was that learners can choose to jump straight into activities if they feel confident or take a quick review. The activities are a mixture of multiple choice and branched scenarios. The multiple-choice questions were designed so learners had to choose an answer and then explain why from a list of options. This created a range of scores and outcomes. As learners complete tasks and questions, they can see how well they are progressing. Answers and activities are allocated points based on difficulty, with more complex activities attracting higher points. Once learners earn enough points, they earn a challenge icon. They can then either keep going and answer bonus questions for a higher score or progress to new levels.
Included with the delivery was a range of industry resources that could be accessed by the learning platform, such as: checklists, intoxication assessment tool (also used by Police), an ID date card, video tips from bar managers, and other guidance on conflict resolution and refusing entry.
ServeWise fills a major gap by providing a free and single piece of training relevant to all licence types and has ensured a basic level of training and knowledge. Thanks to a strong promotional campaign, the governing board of the Health Promotion Agency have been delighted with the reach of the project particularly highlight the cost of developing the initiative.
From the launch in February 2016 to February 2017, there were 3677 registered users, with 1381 people having completed the training and another 1340 actively working through the course.
There is the potential for this course to reach all servers and sellers of alcohol across the whole of New Zealand and to reduce alcohol-related incidents. One of New Zealand’s leading supermarkets, Progressive Enterprises, has decided to roll out the free course to 4,000 of their employees as part of their compliance training.
Much of the feedback from regulatory agencies involved with licensing premises to sell alcohol has shown improved compliance with the law, with a marked improvement in host responsibility. HPA has found that the hospitality industry has embraced the training with significant buy-in.
‘Being an employer of staff selling alcohol, this training tool is just invaluable’, says Belinda Symon from Super Liquor. ‘It’s always been difficult and costly training new staff without a manager’s certificate. This will give me so much more reassurance and confidence in my business and my alcohol licence’.
Hospitality New Zealand’s GM Operations and Advocacy, Tracy Scott commented that ‘in today’s challenging trading environment, hospitality businesses are faced with a range of compliance matters that cost time and money. Training for all our staff is vital. ServeWise is a practical and simple tool to support our obligations under the law, reduce alcohol-related harm and establish an enjoyable and hospitable environment for our customers'.
Police National Manager Alcohol Harm Reduction, Acting Inspector Andy Smith says ‘alcohol legislation has changed several elements of the way alcohol is sold, supplied and consumed and means those who sell or serve alcohol have to take their responsibilities seriously. What hasn’t changed is good host responsibility. The new HPA website ServeWise is reinforcing good host responsibility practices in addition to providing a standard across the industry and regulatory partners that will give some consistency to what is a notoriously subjective area'.