Michael Brown: Online learning is an important tool for wellbeing and development

Michael Brown

Wellbeing at work means a lot of different things, but the fact remains that, whether you are talking about someone’s physical wellness, mental health, or just simply whether they are happy and reaching their potential, wellbeing at work is now a top HR agenda item.

Our awareness of what it means to value wellbeing has transformed in recent years, due to mental health conversations being de-stigmatised, greater demographic diversity within the population and an ageing workforce.

There used to be a perception that it was down to the individual to look after themselves, maybe with a bit of help from their immediate line manager and HR. Nowadays, however, learning and development is increasingly involved, providing access to materials and tools to help employees deal with whatever issues might arise, and bring their best selves to work. That might be training courses to help develop better people skills, mental health management techniques like mindfulness, or improving financial wellbeing with better education.

For example, call centre staff need might not face an issue for six months, but suddenly have 10 customers in a row that are hard to handle. Resilience and mindfulness training is a very important element of preparing them for these unexpected periods of stress.

Just before Christmas in 2018, Vanquis provided its employees with a range of online learning courses on mental health topics, including mindfulness, which had an impressive uptake. There was also a lot of positive feedback on Yammer; the courses were interesting, provided a lot of variety, and were very accessible.

The majority of people want learning resources they can dip in and out of whenever the mood takes them. We use online facilities like GoodHabitz as a starting point, or to augment what we might cover in a classroom setting.

Our online learning programme has also totally democratised training and development. Regardless of their position in the organisation, every employee has the same opportunity to develop; so, a call centre employee or a new starter can take courses in social media management, leadership skills or technical project management.

Online learning is very much linked to managing employee wellbeing. Happiness is central to wellbeing, and people are happy when they are learning something new.

Michael Brown is digital learning manager at Vanquis Bank