From virtual chocolate tasting to sign language workshops – what does a Greggs Learning at Work Week look like?

 Learning at Work Week is an annual event which promotes and celebrates the concept of lifelong learning at work. This year, it takes place between 15 and 21 May with a focus on the theme ‘Create the Future’. Co-ordinated by Campaign for Learning, Learning at Work Week is delivered by organisations in workplaces across the country, including popular food-to-go retailer Greggs.

Greggs has taken part in Learning at Work Week since 2011. From sign language workshops and financial wellbeing webinars to podcast recommendations and systems tutorials, the organisation is passionate about the benefits and development opportunities the week can bring its employees. We spoke with Greggs’ Learning and Development Advisor, Katie Wood, and their Learning and Development Administrator, Karen Armstrong, to find out more.


Why did Greggs first become involved in Learning at Work Week?

Karen: “We became involved in Learning at Work Week in 2011 to encourage colleagues from across the business to take ownership of their learning and development, network, have fun and discover something new!” 


 What type of activities have you run for Learning at Work Week? 

Katie: “In the past, we’ve run a real range of different sessions including escape rooms, Zumba, craft sessions, sign language classes, IT skills masterclasses and even personal development workshops, which focused on building confidence and tackling imposter syndrome. 

“Last year, Legal and General delivered a webinar focusing on financial wellbeing with over 40 colleagues attending. The Fairtrade Foundation also delivered a virtual chocolate tasting workshop, which was a fantastic addition to our week! For this hybrid session, Fairtrade dialed in virtually after giving us the heads up prior to the day regarding which chocolate to purchase, so that we could taste the chocolate as the facilitator talked us through the origins, taste, look and smell. We also learnt a bit about the origins of the chocolate we use at Greggs, which was incredibly interesting. 

“We also welcomed Anna-Lisa Mills (of SmartCarbon and the Net Zero Lead for Newcastle Hospitals) to Greggs to provide our colleagues with a deeper understanding of what climate change is, and what we can all do to help play our part in reducing emissions.”

What kind of feedback do you get from your people?

Katie: “We get so much positive feedback. Our colleagues genuinely look forward to participating in Learning at Work Week every year and we get lots of questions throughout the year about what they can expect from the week. We've even had colleagues volunteer to deliver activities and tutorials and help out on the run up to the week!”


Have you had standout moments for Learning at Work Week?

Karen: “Our escape room events, created and facilitated by Jess, a member of the Learning and Development team here at Greggs, are a standout for me! Last year, we took over a meeting room and transformed it into 'Granny Annie's Tea Party'. Working together in teams of six, with only 45 minutes on the clock, the challenge was to solve the puzzles and crack the code to successfully find the key and release Granny Annie. 

“This fun team building session was perfect for new project teams or departmental teams looking to improve their communication and collaboration skills and was such a hit! We booked up all our slots for this activity and were bombarded with requests for more.”

Katie: “A standout moment for me were last year’s British Sign Language workshops, delivered by my colleague Craig Walkman. Craig delivered both in person and virtual sessions so colleagues from across the business were able to participate. The interactive and informative sessions taught us how to sign pleasantries, say our name and use the alphabet. The workshops were really well received and provided attendees with a new skill which will help them to successfully communicate with their customers and colleagues in the future!”


What are the main benefits of taking part as a business? 

Katie: “It encourages our colleagues to take part in personal and professional development workshops and enjoyable learning activities. They're given an opportunity to meet new people, learn a new skill, and spend some time developing themselves. There’s something for everyone.”


What is Greggs planning to do for Learning at Work Week 2023? 

Katie: “This year, we have plans to provide pension information drop-in sessions and webinars, deliver an in-person and a virtual sustainable cookery class, upskill line managers from across the business on onboarding and delivering a great training experience, facilitate a session for Shop Managers on how to have a brilliant conversation, and so much more!” 

What tips would you share with businesses looking to take part for the first time? 

Katie: “Planning is key to a successful week! We also like to make sure we advertise the week as much as possible – this means emails, flyers, posters and videos. Get your colleagues excited about the week even before you've decided on your activities, as it'll set the tone and create a buzz amongst teams. 

“I'd also recommend keeping it simple and not trying to fit too much in. Think carefully about the types of activities you feel will be beneficial or enjoyable for your colleagues. It's better to do a few activities really well than to deliver unfinished sessions!”

Ready to get involved with Learning at Work Week with your organisation? You can find out more and discover great resources by visiting the Learning at Work Week website.