The L&D team at the British Medical Assocation (BMA) are on a journey to create a learning organisation via a series of cultural changes, initiatives and projects. They designed their Learning at Work Week to drive forward this innovation, delivering a full programme to change colleagues’ views and appreciation of work-based and social learning, promote career and job development, and connect learning to individual and organisational performance. 

The week opened with a provocative blog by the Head of Organisational L&D which asked, ‘Can the BMA become a learning organisation?’ and guest speaker, Charles Jennings, spoke on the power of knowledge sharing and work-based and social learning. The L&D team followed this with a strong line up of activity including:  

  • ‘Silo Crushing’ sessions with virtual drop-in clinics and 1-to-1 coaching. 
  • ‘Week in the Life of...’ blogs by colleagues in roles that are usually less ‘centre-stage’.  
  • A session on achieving happiness by a BMA member  
  • Inviting colleagues to listen to a Ted Talk on new ways of learning and turning failures into ‘near-wins’.  

To promote career development, colleagues could join ‘Own my career’ sessions and read peers’ real-life career journeys in ‘My career at 5’. The senior leadership team posted their learning stories, highlighting how job development had helped their careers. The L&D team offered ‘What’s next?’ drop-in sessions and introduced colleagues to Cognito learning technology which helps people reinforce and retain new knowledge, skills or know-how via a ‘little and often’ approach to testing.  

BMA’s Learning at Work Week successfully engaged over 140 colleagues who attended 14 virtual sessions. During the week, over 70% of colleagues visited the intranet each day where content was being shared.  As a result, nearly 70% of colleagues are more confident in planning their own career development, 76% report the week has helped them identify work-based learning opportunities, and nearly 90% agreed the week made them reflect on new ways of learning. BMA colleagues say they can see more clearly the benefits of work-based learning and are more informed about the opportunities they have for professional and career development. 

The L&D team have shifted perceptions of learning and development from a traditional in a classroom, one-off ‘event’ to a continuous experience and improvement process. Several of the week’s initiatives have become part of BMA’s regular L&D offerings such as knowledge sharing and career stories. Building on the success of the week, the team are developing a coaching and mentoring programme to further enhance knowledge and experience sharing at the BMA.