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TrainingZone interviews: Bupa

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11th Feb 2013
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Ahead of the upcoming Saba webinar 'How elearning award winner Bupa maintains excellence', we caught up with Marc Harvey and Fiona Leteney to talk about Bupa's global learning programmes.

What are the main challenges in implementing L&D programmes in global organisations?

The very nature of a global organisation creates challenges when designing and delivering L&D interventions. At a local level there is a tendency to focus on how the business is different to that of others and many requests to localise the content can ensue. There are the obvious communication challenges of us being a global company; meeting times with Australia, working week differences with Saudi Arabia and language with Spain, to name but a few. We always retain focus on the similarities between our businesses, what is common regardless of geography and clearly align the activity to overall business strategy. This alignment and focus helps us work together effectively throughout the organisation with a common purpose to avoid 'reinventing the wheel'.

If each different business unit develops different modules to reflect the culture of its users, how do you standardise the learning process?

At present there is not a standardised process for learning. With many of our individual businesses at different stages of maturity, a decentralised approach to learning is still present. We are tackling this by implementing one learning platform across the Bupa World and sharing best practises between super-users and champions from each of the businesses. With our People functions and L&D colleagues building stronger relationships and working more collaboratively, we can apply these best practices globally.

Self-pacing certainly allows for greater flexibility, but can - and do - employees stick to a learning programme they can compare their progress against?

Where there is a need for learning to have a clear path to follow, our people are clearly directed through the learning pathway ensuring they are aware of their progress in pursuit of their goals. This is certainly the case where mapping content to specific qualifications such as an Institute of Leadership and Management coaching qualification.

What are your tips to make the most of informal learning in your organisation?

We strongly believe that everyone has talent.  We work with all employees to help them unleash their talent and share this with the wider business. Too many policies and procedures around user-generated content can send out the wrong message. We need to encourage our people to share their learning and experience creating a culture where learning is part of everyday life. We encourage the creation of special interest groups and create an environment where employees are free to attend lunchtime events for example. The curation of informal learning content is also incredibly important and should be a key consideration making sure there are tools and techniques in place to do this. Getting senior executive buy in and contribution is also critical as well.

Do you think Bupa will abandon classroom learning completely in future?

This is an incredibly difficult question to answer and one that many people debate. We are passionate about learning outcomes and ensuring we create the right environment for learning. It really depends on your definition of ‘classroom learning’ but currently there are times when bringing people together in the same physical environment is needed to achieve the desired outcome. Bupa is unlikely to abandon classroom training completely in the near future, however as technology advances there are greater opportunities to move more courses and resources to the most appropriate places which could be online, mobile or the virtual classroom.

To sign up to the free webinar 'How e-learning award winner Bupa maintains excellence' click here

Marc Harvey is learning technologies business consultant at Bupa. Having transitioned from the Bupa International business to his current role within the Corporate Centre, Marc is now focused on helping to build a global learning technologies community across Bupa.

Fiona Leteney is learning technologies consultant at Bupa. Over the past year Fiona has been responsible for the support and development of ‘Bupa Learn’ - Bupa's global learning management system.

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