Baillie Gifford’s third Learning at Work Week ‘Learnfest’ set out to promote a learning culture, stimulate curiosity and engage employees in learning. It was aligned to one of the company’s Shared Beliefs - ‘Our firm must be an engaging and progressive place to work’ and aimed to support broader priorities of Maintaining Culture, Globalisation and Managing Change. The team used the ‘shaping the future’ theme to reflect the business’ growth into new geographies and its increasing number of employees embracing technology.

The team built a broad partnership of company groups and teams including those from Compliance, Early Careers, Information Systems Virtual Reality and its LGBT and Mental Health and Wellbeing Network. It also worked with external partners forming a wide range of learning providers and organisations including Project Scotland, GoodPractice and Clearly Financial Training. These supported the development of new learning offers for staff including engaging online content for staff working remotely around the world.

A week long programme of activities were delivered under the banner ‘Learnfest’. The team created a week that would appeal to all with different topics, formats, duration and venues. Colleagues could learn online, through drawing and writing, and via virtual reality. They could visit pop-ups and the week’s marketplace, learn at their desks and outdoors, or learn together in a group. The sessions invited colleagues to ‘draw out their future’ and learn about ‘our investment philosophy’, the ‘3 dimensions of success’, and the ‘tiny habits that can help you thrive’. The Wellbeing group arranged therapy taster sessions on massage and reflexology.

The design of the sessions helped colleagues develop core competencies, which include Communication, Idea Generation, Relationship Building, Confidence and Self-Belief, Business Understanding and Team Working. These competencies play a significant part in the company’s Performance and Development Framework.

Workshops on Visual Thinking, Street Wisdom and Sleep reinforced a learning culture where staff are supported to look after aspect of themselves, be curious and creative, and have time to explore. 

The week was promoted through a variety of channels using the ‘Learnfest’ bold and bright brand. Managers were informed initially to let them know what was happening and why. Teaser emails, intranet posts and the company’s internal L&D network raised awareness. Novel and experimental marketing methods helped to create a buzz. Posters and postcards featured questions to stimulate debate and thought. Competitions and a time capsule challenge encouraged colleagues to try different things. 

Hundreds of colleagues took advantage of the diverse, creative and relevant learning on offer with nearly all of the 703 session spaces filled. The week gave employees an opportunity to learn and challenge one another outside of their normal day to day business. They rated the opportunities to discuss, interact and gain insights from colleagues across the business highly. Many of the sessions run during the week are now permanent learning offers.             

 The business will benefit from the fresh perspectives, energy and motivation gained by staff. Learning at Baillie Gifford is mentioned positively by staff in engagement surveys, recruitment activity and in retention discussions and Learnfest is seen as playing a key part in this.