Automotive and travel insurance organisation Allianz Worldwide Partners hosts an annual Learning at Work Week for its 500 UK employees to help staff develop new skills, as well as try out new hobbies.
Its Learning at Work Week, held in May each year, forms part of Allianz Worldwide Partners’ employee engagement, and learning and development strategies. Nikki Davies, learning and development manager at Allianz Worldwide Partners, says: “We believe that development of all of our employees is one of the most important aspects of why we exist really. We can’t operate without them, so it’s massively part of our strategy to ensure that we can give something back to our employees, provide them with opportunities to learn and to grow and to take ownership of their own development as well.”
In 2017, the Learning at Work Week saw approximately 150 employees take part in activities such as reflexology, meditation, hypnotherapy, Latin dance lessons, craft workshops and a dance class to perform hip hop in high heels. Employees also attended talks on subjects such as money management, bodybuilding and nutrition.
All employees were invited to participate in the Learning at Work Week, including approximately 300 staff based at the organisation’s Croydon office, as well as its remote roadside technicians. Allianz typically held on-site activities between 10am and 4pm each day, although for 2018’s programme, it will hold some sessions after working hours, for example, networking evenings with external business leaders. For roadside technicians who are unable to travel into the office due to work commitments, their roadside performance manager will provide each team member with a specific, individually set budget so that they can learn something new or take up a new skill in their own time.
Following 2017’s Learning at Work Week, the organisation gathered employee feedback to identify what activities employees would like to see within 2018’s programme. This feedback pinpointed skills-based learning and gaining more technical know-how as a focus for employees, which has been incorporated into 2018’s agenda.
In May 2018, its Learning at Work Week will incorporate career advice around CVs and interview skills, first aid and paediatric first aid workshops and lunch-and-learn sessions. External speakers will also be brought in, such as a representative from the British Touring Cars Championship, a Paralympic athlete and a local business award winner.
“We felt it was a really great way to put the spotlight on the benefits of the learning and development, both on a personal and professional level,” Davies adds. “We see it as a positive way for us to be able to reward everybody and give something back; give [employees] opportunities to learn new skills, to get involved in things that they wouldn’t normally get involved in rather than [learning and development] just focusing on [what employees] have to do for [their] specific job.”
Allianz Worldwide Partners also launched an internal skills database in March 2018, which is embedded in its intranet site. This enables employees to input their personal skills, such as gardening or crochet, into the database so that the organisation can easily locate experts across various knowledge fields. Although this tool will mainly be utilised to aid corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects, it could also be used to enhance future Learning at Work Weeks by finding employees who can deliver language workshops or IT-based reverse mentoring opportunities, for example. “It’s very much about trying to understand what skills people have and how we can utilise those for the business, but also to develop those skills, to make people feel more fulfilled,” says Davies.
This year will mark the third anniversary of the introduction of the week. “We do it because we want to,” says Davies. “It doesn’t matter whether it forms part of the strategy or not. The feedback has been amazing. Staff here look forward to it. The feedback comes in all year. We’ve got a project group that we set up to really focus on what it is we want to achieve to try and ensure that we include everybody that we can across it, so it’s not just part of that [learning and development] strategy; it’s part of [continuously] keeping people engaged and focused on who they are and what they can give back.”