Winner: The OU Business School Supporting Business and Organisational Goals - Large Organisation

First Bus is one of Britain's largest bus operators with around a fifth of bus services outside London. It’s fleet of around 6,000 buses carries approximately 1.6 million passengers a day in a huge number of communities including 40 of the UK's largest towns and cities.

First Bus promoted Learning at Work Week across its 60 depots and 16 operating companies. A key goal was to link learning to its business strategy ‘Driving Change for Tomorrow’, an integral element of this is supporting and developing its people, which learning and development plays a key part in. The business also wanted to promote its recently refreshed learning opportunities, including depot based Learning Centres, it’s online Learning Academy and it’s unique lifelong learning partnership with Unite the Union. It was important to get colleagues involved in learning and development across the business by breaking down any barriers and perceptions that may prevent learning. First Bus used the campaign’s ‘Networked for Learning’ theme to promote to colleagues the range of opportunities available across their own networks both inside and outside the business, and aimed to empower staff to tap into their learning networks by making them accessible, relevant and exciting.

Local Learning Co-ordinators arranged activity schedules in First Bus depots that included work-related online learning sessions, a new colleague app and IT skills amongst others.  Other customer and colleague focused activities included the delivery of the company’s Journey Makers courses, and sessions on disability and mental health awareness. Colleagues weren’t only attendees, they were also integral in delivering the Week, sharing their skills and running sessions, and taking part in job swaps and hands on learning sessions.  Fun activities ranged from jam making through guitar lessons to model making. First Bus leaders participated in back to the floor exercises including driving buses, scheduling routes, and fixing and cleaning buses.

First Bus ran a ten week communication campaign using emails, their online colleague portal and app, notice boards, videos and references at local leadership roadshows. Promotional materials were distributed and Co-ordinators supported the brand campaign, tailoring messages to their own locality.  A themed daily online newsletter during Learning at Work Week promoted different types of learning networks.

Many First Bus colleagues now have an increased understanding of the level of investment in their learning and the wide range of opportunities available. Colleagues visited Learning Centres and met Learning Co-ordinators, many for the first time. Participation by leaders has helped to build relationships and networks, and the business has benefited from increased engagement and participation in learning, which will support upskilling in the future and help to create a culture of learning and development.