Truffle-making extends learning at work day mix

From Salsa dancing to truffle-making, employers throughout the country are
freeing their staff to try a range of different activities. And it’s all in the
name of Learning at Work Day on 15 May.

Salsa classes will be held for staff at Le Meridien Grosvenor Apartments.
Financial giant Halifax’s staff will study to expand their brain power, read
people by their eyes and take part in ‘colour coding for personal enhancement’.
Foster Wheeler employees will take a break from providing engineering services
and products to the petroleum and gas industries to address circus skills,
relaxation techniques and sign language classes. Staff at Learndirect will make

According to the Campaign for Learning, last year’s Learning at Work Day
encouraged 750,000 employees across 4,000 organisations to take part – 43 per
cent for the first time.

"Last year, we used it as a motivational event," said Marianne
Haddow, HR director at Le Meridien Grosvenor Apartments. "It meant we
could promote personal development opportunities and get the message across
that learning was fun."

Following on from last year’s internet surfing sessions, Haddow reports that
employees took up further computer courses, including basic training for
Microsoft Office. "It’s like a PR day for the training department, so more
people become interested in what we can offer."

"It’s part of the culture we’re trying to engender where people take
responsibility for their own development," said Jane Edwards, a training
manager at Halifax. "Our employees feel we are supporting them and
developing them in a non-traditional style. Last year, our activities sparked
interest so if it gets them aware of what we have to offer it has a positive

The promotion of training and learning activities seem to lie at the heart
of the day’s activities, but according to Darshana Dholakia at Learndirect,
these can still provide relevant skills to the workplace: "Truffle-making
may seem a little eccentric, but actually the time management skills required
to do that are important," she said. "It also boosts individuals’
confidence so people who aren’t sure about learning can be drawn in. It’s not
just about upskilling your employees, it can also help the general wellbeing of
your staff."

Learndirect is not only supporting through its extensive learning resources
and sponsorship of the day, but its own staff will be taking part in
initiatives such as job swaps, sessions on creative thinking and managing the
work-life balance.

"It’s a win-win initiative for everybody," said Susie Parsons,
chief executive of Campaign for Leaning. "Organisations and employees who
take part continue learning activities throughout the year. It makes everyone
stop and think about their learning so any activity is good."

By Simon Kent

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