This week (16th to 22nd May) has been Learning At Work Week and has prompted a renewed focus on how we support our staff at Principle One in developing new skills to support greater effectiveness in the workplace. This year’s theme is Learning Uncovered, and we have taken part in a range of activities to reflect on the diversity of our learning styles and needs, and how important it is to take a step back from the day job and create time to learn.
Our approach to learning and development at Principle One has always been about more than booking a few days of classroom (or remote classroom) training away from customer facing work and leaving it there. We encourage staff to find the style of learning that supports them best and staff are supported in this by a career mentor, who can draw on their own experience and provide proactive support. We are strong advocates of learning by doing and as a result, we deliver most of our core internal training in short sessions of no more than half a day, with staff immediately having the opportunity to apply the skills they have learnt to real business problems.
Learning from others and peer to peer learning also plays an important role for us. We recently held our first internal Hackathon, which provided a two day opportunity for staff to learn new skills. Each team was tasked with building their business knowledge through researching a new challenge faced by our customers and developing a problem statement before applying some of the analysis techniques in our consulting toolkit to explore the problem and potential solutions further. It was a chance for staff to step out of their comfort zone and learn about new roles and ways of working, improving their understanding of where they may wish to take their careers.
However convenient online learning may be, it cannot replace the role of informal learning through being part of a workplace community; something that many of our staff took for granted before the pandemic. To help break down the barriers to informal networking that our long period working in lockdown put in place, we launched Communities of Interest to promote networking, knowledge sharing and learning from others. Our Communities for Developers, Data Specialists and Business Analysts have created a focus point for more informal learning together, sharing ideas and reinforcing online learning. These are supported by informal Lunch and Learn sessions and our regular Business Update and full team networking events.
To get Learning At Work Week started, we pulled together a list of workshops and online seminars across a set of topics that range from applying design thinking to complex problems and running inclusive meetings to storytelling in user experience. Laura Russell, our Learning and Development Lead, hosted a drop-in session to discuss learning, development, and training with staff. Laura said “Learning by doing is the most common training within Principle One because it often sticks better with people, can be immediately utilised and practised, and focuses on the skills our customers need. Our drop-in session allowed us to better understand the training needs of our staff and enabled an open discussion for individuals and career mentors to put forward ideas and suggestions to develop learning and development within Principle One.”
Learning Uncovered is also about how we can learn to look after ourselves and develop coping strategies when pressure in the workplace (and at home) can feel too much. We were joined at our Lunch and Learn this week by Katie Muldoon, a leadership coach from Yellowrattle Coaching, and she talked to staff about skills and tips to look after ourselves especially when life gets very busy and stressful, including managing decision fatigue, juggling responsibilities, and reaching out to others to help and enhance our work and personal lives. Katie gave suggestions and recommendations on conserving energy for the big decisions we must make and limiting the number of smaller ones, especially those we make first thing in the morning before we even start work. She also gave some timely advice on hybrid meetings and planning out what you want to achieve when you present to our Police Now secondees who will be sharing the work they have done on secondment with us later this week.
Learning At Work Week has been an opportunity to refresh our learning and development strategy within Principle One and has provided insights and alternative ways of working to apply to our day to day jobs, and highlighted the variety of methods by which we learn and build new skills each day. Ben Sadler, our COO, said: “As Principle One continues to grow, we are constantly challenging ourselves to provide the learning opportunities our people need and want. Learning At Work Week has given all our people time to reflect on what will help them excel in their careers and for our clients, and support the growth of the business into the future.”