Three colleagues talking together at work

Connecting to the community: practical tactics for L&D professionals

Along with our expert panel at Learning Technologies 2022, we explore insights, opinions and tips to effectively foster a culture of learning within workplace communities.
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Elise Willson, Content Writer
2022-06-10

Go1’s Customer Success Director, James Frappell, spoke with Laura Overton and Shannon Tipton, Co-Founders of Emerging Stronger and Malcom Taylor, Senior People Development Manager, Met Office, about how L&D professionals can leverage workplace communities and foster learning among employees in a live webinar at Learning Technologies 2022.

The webinar covered a variety of topics including how the pandemic shifted and fueled the need for workplace tech and tools, how to support learning in the workplace in a remote-first world, the biggest challenges faced in workplace communities and tips for cultivating learning in the workplace.

Collaborative workplace tools: Love or hate them?

The panelists agree the pandemic boosted collaboration due to the increased reliance on workplace tech and tools like Microsoft Teams and Slack as it encouraged collaboration with employees across the globe. While many of the panelists' respective organisations already had these practices in place, there was an ability to test and learn this new way of working that ultimately allowed the workplace communities to think more creatively and freely. 

Viewer question: Which of the following do you do to support learning in the workplace?

When viewers were posed this question, 26% answered running live sessions, 20% chose curate and post content, 14% answered reflecting and commenting, 11% answered posting questions, another 11% agreed on supporting communities of practice, 9% chose tackling challenges together, 6% supported posting nudges and reminders and only 3% answered user generated content.

The panelists agreed that while there are many different ways of supporting learning, there’s no doubt technology is bringing change, and we need to be prepared to test, learn and adapt.

The panelists largely agreed that the most exciting thing about the above ways of supporting learning are crucial in order to get people to practice and reflect. Laura commented how she'd like to see more emphasis on “UGC” and “nudges and reminders” because she’s interested in the evidence of doing these things versus the results achieved. She goes on to explain how it’s important to see how people can incorporate learning practices and take actionable steps versus simply reflecting.

It’s agreed among the panelists there’s a white space for the application of learnings and treating learning as an actionable experience versus an event. There’s commentary about how some workplace trainings are wasted because people aren’t able to directly apply those learnings day to day.

The conversation also goes on to spotlight what the biggest opportunities are for learning in the workplace. Malcolm comments that there are several challenges that are self imposed, including time, resources, understanding tech, and creating something that's going to help people understand technology. Malcolm also goes on to talk about the importance of trusting your employees when putting tools in place versus hand holding. In regards to UGC specifically, Shannon felt her team excelled more when learning occurred naturally, curation efforts become less and employees would share content that’s more relevant to them, ultimately bringing more positivity. More often than not, workplace learning happens organically versus in a overly controlled environment.

Challenges with supporting learning in workplace communities

For Emerging Stronger specifically, Laura feels the company’s internal mindset and attitude limits the ability for open-mindedness in learning courses because they feel constrained of what they “ought to do” versus “what we could do”. Shannon speaks about how employees need a clear starting point to make these trainings accessible and attainable, and explains how Emerging Stronger developed a cheat sheet that acted as a foundation for employees to grow, learn and apply information and learnings.

Engagement is important especially at the Met Office to get people involved in peer generated content to get people involved. Malcolm feels that they set up a community practice charter with governance in order to keep content fresh, as it often can become stale and forgotten about. 

Tips for cultivating learning in workplace communities

Malcolm feels silo working and inward looking are echo chambers that can be constraining. He explains how looking externally to other organisations to get fresher ideas is vital to “metaphyfing” the issue. At the Met Office, he realizes external focus is useful to cultivate learning and keep content fresh.

The topic around tracking what’s working inside these channels was also discussed. While so much learning is happening in these environments, it’s important to track and use data to drive engagement and learning. At Emerging Stronger, Sarah feels this aspect of workplace communities allows the company to surface what’s going on in the world and cites a case study “Dare to Share”. This study highlights what’s been shared, where they expect people are raising discussions at work, and if those issues are an issue where the workplace needs to intervene, etc. Tracking and assessment is vital as it’s not only proving what the company is doing right, but also to see where improvements can be made. Shannon adds that it’s ok for communities to have a natural end and companies don't have to keep them up in perpetuity.

Panelist takeaways

Lastly, James ends the webinar discussion prompting the panelists to provide practical recommendations for the audience to takeaway on how we can deliver great learning experiences. Laura feels psychological safety is her main takeaway, and creating safe environments to “work out loud” and set up goals for a safe space in these communities. Malcolm stresses having structure at the start to set the rhythm to generate conversation helped the Met Office get their workplace community discussions off the ground.

Throughout Learning Technologies 2022, we ran six panel sessions over two days with an amazing lineup of specialist guest speakers of L&D analysts, researchers, and practitioners. Keen to catch up on all the fun? We've put together a wrap up of the event, including a recording of Ollie and David's session.

We'd love to see you in person (or virtually) at a Go1 or industry event soon. Check out our Events page for more information on what's on.

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