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How Confused.com harnesses the power of employee-driven learning

Learning is an important part of Confused.com’s culture, and one that is encouraged by their CEO. Through taking a flexible approach to skills development, the organisation has continued to provide a fun, personalised and inclusive L&D offering in these challenging times.

3rd Jun 2020
Editor TrainingZone
In association with
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Employee learning at home
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Workers at Confused.com have equal access to learning opportunities, feel empowered to take ownership of their personal growth, are recognised for their hard work but also understand it’s about having fun too. This is true employee-driven learning.

To better understand what goes into developing this inspiring hungry-to-learn culture, we spoke to Jas Bolla, who has over 20 years in the industry and is currently HR Business partner of Confused.com, for some deeper insights. 

How does Confused.com approach learning and development? 

Confused.com’s approach to learning and personal growth is based on four key elements.

1. Equality: Giving people access to the same opportunities 

We work in a fast-moving tech environment so on the job training is a key part of all our roles and we actively encourage staff to work across teams, sharing knowledge and know-how. For example, we provide training using our ‘School of Tech’ facility with specialists in our tech team providing insight and knowledge to staff who are not technically minded.

We actively encourage staff to undertake qualifications and training, as well as providing funding for personal development such as learning Welsh or undertaking a psychology degree

2. Communication

Our CEO believes you can never over communicate, and that people develop by having a sound/transparent knowledge of the business’s plans, strategy and values. 

For example, she sends out emails on Sunday and Friday evenings (to help ‘book-end’ in the week), sharing key business updates, achievements, challenges and priorities. She infuses these emails with lots of personal touches – from humour, to relatable anecdotes, to inspiring points – which are especially great for morale during these challenging and unusual times. 

3. Reward and recognition

We want to reward our staff and give them a reason to want to develop themselves. That’s why we encourage our people to nominate their peers for our Rising Star Awards or to send a ‘thank you’ and recognise fellow colleagues for good work.

4. Having fun

As the saying goes: ‘if you love what you do, you’ll do it better’. It is important to create a work environment where staff are happy and where they can see themselves grow and develop their talent.

Here are some of our morale-boosting initiatives:

  • Our internal comms team has introduced a weekly ‘Keep calm and carry on hot-desking’ newsletter which shares a round-up of highlights and photos from staff working from home, to help keep everyone feeling connected to one another on a human level (not just through work and virtual meetings!)

  • We run competitions with our group (global) family including an art contest for staff and their family members, and a lip-syncing video competition    

  • We are currently planning a day of virtual activities, in place of our summer party – we’re hoping to include sessions that touch upon motivation, exploration, learning, and fun!  

These activities require a lot of organisation and we’ve opened the opportunity up to staff volunteers as a means to help develop their skills beyond their designated role (i.e. event planning, project management, creativity). 

A few of your employees have begun apprenticeships. Can you tell us how these learners are able to flex between studying and working and the positive benefits this brings to the business?

Last year we were delighted that two members of our tech team wished to apply for the Applied Software Engineering Degree Apprenticeship, and they started the course early this year using the flexible online tools and study provided by the Open University in Wales.

This type of flexible study has helped the individuals and hopefully will encourage others to participate as it offers all our staff, even parents, to strive in their careers and development.

We help these employees to flex between study and work by:

  • Encouraging no meeting Wednesdays 

  • Not expecting a strict 9-to-5 schedule, but asking employees to be mindful of regular business hours 

  • Involving line managers

  • Ensuring there is on the job training so individuals can practically apply what they have learned in the working environment on projects that are adding value to Confused.com

  • Celebrating successes!

Has your L&D team been particularly innovative in its use of digital learning in these disruptive times? 

Confused.com has continued to provide flexible and digital learning in several ways:

  • The onboarding and induction of new staff now takes place via webinar and teams

  • Company meetings are conducted by online pitstops

  • We encourage staff to share knowledge and news through informal meetings that usually occur around lunchtime, referred to as ‘brown bag meetings’

  • We encourage staff attendance at online webinars, training days and conferences

  • We collaborate with our internal communications team to promote access to L&D activities, as well as activities to help develop ways of working and improve wellbeing. These include interactive videos and training modules to assist managers and staff over the Covid-19 period.

OU flexible learning hub

Flexible learning has become hyper-relevant in the current climate. In what ways are you striving to create more inclusive, personalised and adaptable learning experiences for your people? 

We are very fortunate at Confused.com in that we have continued to be able to provide flexible learning to our staff and that they continue to have the necessary tools to fulfil their role while also developing themselves for their next role and for their own personal growth. 

Over the coming months we will be providing further webinar-related training so that employees can continue to study at a date and time that suits them. We are also working on the following initiatives:

  • Creating a ‘Confused.com University’, which will be the home for all training modules across the business

  • Enhancing our intranet to ensure greater access to online learning and development tools

  • Senior management are working with our internal communications team to look at tailoring how we share information with staff to suit how everyone prefers to receive information, whether that is by email, WhatsApp or other mobile communications

  • Celebrating international holidays/awareness days with food and talks to celebrate these milestones, providing staff the chance to learn more about different cultures and values, for example Diwali and Pride.

  • Arranging for experts in our field to provide ‘Clarity talks’ to staff

  • Working with our sister companies in, for example, France and Spain to learn more about their operations and cultures 

Finally, for L&D professionals who are striving to embed flexible learning into their approach, what three areas should they focus on?

  1. Get the CEO and senior managers involved from the start

  2. Ensure you have the right technology to facilitate flexible learning

  3. Communicate, communicate and communicate

Want to build a more flexible approach to learning? Explore our latest content hub

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