Islington Council is working for a place where everyone can reach their potential and enjoy a good quality of life. The council is re-imagining and re-designing its services in response to changes in funding and increased demand from its community. To perform to the highest standards and work fluidly across organisational boundaries,  it aims to empower staff and residents to be part of this change process through an approach grounded in prevention, early intervention and resilience.

Learning at Work Week was an opportunity to support these priorities. The week’s organisers wanted to support and inspire staff to work differently, by bringing the council’s focus on early intervention and prevention and its values (collaborative, empowering and efficient) to life.

The activities were designed to promote understanding of the council’s priorities, embed its enabling values, provide opportunities for staff to connect and collaborate to improve services, and provide practical tools to promote resilience and wellbeing.

With 600 diverse services, it was important colleagues had a menu of learning opportunities to choose from.  Twenty-six ‘labs’ were held over 2 weeks, incorporating Learning At Work Week. There was a mix of sessions for managers and staff, with popular sessions were run in satellite locations to promote connections across the organisation.

Managers could choose sessions on ‘Bringing wellbeing to your team’, ‘Manager as developer of people’, ‘Self-directed learning’, ‘Drawn Out - a screening and discussion of a film made by young people on one of the council’s estates’. Everyone could take part in sessions on ‘Personal resilience’, ‘People powered problem-solving’, ‘Behaviour change techniques’, ‘Maths’ and ‘An introduction to commissioning’. The leader of the council and the leadership team met with small staff groups to be quizzed on strategic direction.In addition, there were case study sessions, workshops and talks from internal and external speakers and trainers.

The labs were promoted through a range of channels and in locations across the boroughs to ensure participation from cross-section of services. These included a dedicated front page on the intranet and Yammer. Promotional materials such as the programme and calendar for the Leaders’ Lab and Learning Lab event were distributed. The council’s BAME, Disabled Staff, LGBT and Mentor Networks promoted the activities and information was provided in the staff bulletin and newsletter, and at team meetings and events. 

The organisers sent follow-up materials including slides, handouts and links, signposting further resources. Following the week, staff received a ’10 things we learnt bulletin’ with opportunities to maintain learning momentum. 

The Internal Communications team and the Learning and OD team demonstrated exemplary collaboration to achieve a hugely successful initiative that exceeded expectations.

Over five hundred people participated in events and an estimated 48% of the workforce got involved in some way, with over 2000 visits to the intranet. People report greater confidence in their understanding about strategic direction and more informed about key corporate projects. There are new physical and virtual collaborations across the council and colleagues have identified tangible actions they will take to share knowledge and collaborate more effectively. Many participants feel inspired by their learning. 

The council will benefit from having a better understanding of colleagues’ needs and how these can be supported.  It is expected that conversations between managers and staff will improve. New tools and models of knowledge are being shared across the organisation in team meetings and away days, such as those learned in the People Powered Problem Solving sessions.