What Learning at Work Week means to me

Learning as a way of life

I love to learn, in all of its facets. From learning some new trivia in a pub quiz to gathering a clutch of formal qualifications. I love learning so much I married a teacher. Because of my role as the Government Communication Service (GCS) Academy Professional Development Manager, I am in the ‘Inception’ paradox of spending much of my time learning about learning. 

Headshot of woman smiling, wearing glasses.
Mariesa Howlett

How do I engage learners in their own development? How do I get them to value the experience of learning and how do I encourage a growth mindset? There is nothing I enjoy more than sharing my love of learning with others, encouraging them to expand their minds, try new pursuits and be sponges for the experiences that life has to offer. 

It’s the little things

In my previous job at a mid-sized charity, as I was nearing my final days my team asked me to run a series of lunch and learn workshops on how to create video birthday cards. Since being separated by Coronavirus (COVID-19), this was something I had been doing as we couldn’t pass around a card to sign. 

Although making videos for our company induction and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) courses was my bread and butter, the major loss my team would experience after I was gone would be the joy that came from the birthday videos. So despite their resistance to technology upskilling in the past, the whole team were keen to learn how to edit personalised video birthday cards. Of course, I then created a handbook and recorded the sessions in a library, because I wanted to do it properly. 

This highlighted to me that you can get people to engage in learning if it means something to them and that new skill is transferable – whether it’s a GDPR video or a birthday card.

Learning at work week

Learning at Work week is upon us. Postponed from May due to COVID-19 and being run digitally like everything else at the moment, this week is a time for learning to come out of its subterranean habitat, crawl to the surface, squeeze past all of the other awareness months, weeks and days and have its moment in the sun. 

Suddenly there are opportunities to learn something new, flying at you from every direction and you have to take the time to do at least one thing. It’s learning at work week after all and the instruction is clear: This week, learn something, at work. 

Of course, as a committed lifelong learner and a Learning and Development (L&D) professional, I am glad that there is a focus on learning at work to remind everyone of its value, to show ourselves that we can take time out of our day to upskill, build awareness or discover a new way of doing things. We need to have a growth mindset.

Growth mindset

Growth mindset is a theory developed by Carol Dweck, which she explains brilliantly in this blog, but it boils down to the power of believing. Believing you can improve, and that success is not about talent or intelligence but trying, failing and learning.

So what is my ask? That you take on learning for life, not just for Learning at Work Week. But why not start this week? Take time to complete your PDP. Make time to attend a course, workshop, seminar, lunch and learn. Read a recommended article or book. Watch a TED talk and then share what you have learned with a colleague. This is how we continuously grow and improve, which can only make us better at our jobs, right?

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