Learning at work week, connection and bulldogs

Alison Best

20

May

2022

When you think about workplace learning, what do you see as its purpose? How and why do you offer your people the workplace learning experiences that you do? On Tuesday this week, as I walked in the spring sunshine with a colleague to get our lunch, we chatted over a new project. She’d been reading a new book about the subject and we shared perspectives and ideas as we walked (pausing both the walking and talking as we passed a handsome bulldog and I learnt that they are my colleague’s absolute passion!). Learning at work can happen in so many ways and bring about so many benefits, primary and incidental. 

As a workplace consultancy who have been delivering training in workplaces for nearly twenty years, you’d expect byrne·dean to be pretty passionate about learning at work. What’s not to like? The advantages go far beyond the immediately obvious. It’s a simple way to leverage so much great stuff. Just a few of the benefits: 

  • Learning develops expertise. If you’ve got expertise, you do stuff better. Simple and obvious, but no less true for that.
  • Expertise is one of the central requirements for creating personal, intrinsic motivation. When we master tasks, we’re more like to get into flow state. In that flow state we’re engaged, productive, innovative, creative…
  • Investment in learning is an investment in people. It’s a way to ensure people know that you value them; that they are important. If you’re worried about your     people leaving, but can’t offer them the more obvious incentives of a promotion or a pay rise right now, then offering them meaningful and relevant professional development opportunities can be a very cost-effective way of showing how much you care and want them in your business.
  • Learning something new is good for your people’s mental health. The New Economics Foundation identified learning as of one of its five ways to wellbeing (along with connecting, being active, taking notice of things around you, and giving). Learning doesn’t always have to have a particular professional end goal. So, providing your people with the opportunity to, say, learn yoga at lunchtime could be highly effective in improving wellbeing – with the obvious knock-on benefits to their work. Imagine the buzz you feel throughout the afternoon after you’ve mastered one-handed tree pose over lunch! (Less challenging yoga positions are also     available).
  • Learning can be a huge part of connecting with colleagues and building team culture. Getting people together for a team learning experience can boost morale. And an organised learning experience can provide a meaningful centrepiece for a team building day. If you’ve committed to hybrid working but want the team to come together to connect at least some of the time, it’s important to make office days rewarding and enjoyable. A great learning experience can do that. Byrne·dean had a team get together this week – a bit of chat, a bit of learning and a team quiz. To quote one of the team: “I left feeling energised.” Nicely done!

Learning happens all the time. It’s about the articles we read, the people we chat to, the podcasts we subscribe to, the online courses we sign up to. It doesn’t have to be formal and some of the best learning happens through doing the work itself. Learning experiences can be individual, digital, in collaboration.…

Some of the learning experiences which byrne·dean is most passionate about delivering are most effective when participants get together (virtually or face-to-face). Often that is because our sessions are essentially about people working well together (leadership, wellbeing, harassment, inclusion, human behaviours) and it’s experiential. So interacting in the room is part of the learning process. But digital learning options can be brilliant too – it’s great for just-in-time support or personal learning when you don’t need it to be instructor-led. The learning options you offer your people will depend on what it’s about and who’s doing it.  We build bespoke, blended and digital resources for clients to support ongoing learning and have digital courses readily available on respect and harassment, mental health awareness, resilience, burnout, and speaking up.

We exist to help create kinder, fairer workplaces. If you’ve got that, you’ve probably got a learning culture by default. When you have a strong workplace culture people chat over ideas, and share what they are doing and thinking. When they do that, they learn (about bulldogs and other stuff too).