Winner: The Open University Business School Impact Award - Supporting Business and Organisational Goals

Highly Commended: Impact Award - Innovation in Learning and Development

NATS recently introduced its new company strategy for delivery by 2040. This strategy underpins the organisation’s company purpose of ‘advancing aviation, keeping the skies safe’. The team at NATS knows that retaining and developing its people will be fundamental in achieving its ambitious 2040 vision. Learning at Work Week presented NATS with an opportunity to support this objective - dedicating a week to learning and development and enabling its people to learn and grow by supporting their career development and offering them the tools and resources to help them reach their full potential.  

NATS set out to use the week to shine a spotlight on learning and to highlight to employees the importance of career ownership and driving their own development. The week also created a platform for NATS to raise awareness of its learning teams across the business, connect colleagues and create a community of learning throughout the business. 

Ahead of launching its Learning at Work Week programme, NATS promoted upcoming activities using a variety of channels to reach a wider range of employees. This included articles on the intranet, email and interactive Yammer conversations – NATS’s internal social platform. Alongside this approach the team engaged with senior managers to get their support in encouraging employees to get involved.    

The team opened an innovative virtual exhibition the week before Learning at Work Week so employees could explore the content and sign up for the interactive sessions. It was designed to be accessible to all employees, no matter their location, ensuring everyone had an opportunity to take part and join in during the week of activity. It was important to get the support of managers to help engage teams with the content and encourage participation in the week. They engaged all managers, involving them with the launch and opened up conversation to talk about the activity and what this meant for their team members.   

The event was complemented by a full programme of online facilitated sessions to which everyone was invited to join and given the opportunity to meet NATS’s learning teams and external suppliers.   

The exhibition featured four main areas: My Career, External Learning, Internal Learning and My Performance. It included innovative elements such as interactive touchscreens, pop-up banners and a video wall. The content was easy to find, delivered through quick tips, how to guides, video content and case studies from colleagues to bring their experiences to life.   

NATS used analytics to review how employees connected with the content, gathering insight into the topics that interested them and their learning preferences. They also collected data on the number of employees visiting the virtual exhibition, including statistics on how long they stayed within the environment and the most popular areas of the exhibition. This analysis showed that over 750 employees from 129 unique locations visited NATS’s Learning at Work Week virtual exhibition representing around 20% of the total workforce.  These results far exceeded NATS’s already ambitious target of 15% engagement which was set based on figures from previous events.   

In addition, the learning team at NATS received an influx of apprenticeship enquiries following the event with the number of employees studying an Apprenticeship climbing from 44 to 90.  

The company’s key reflection was that Learning at Work Week helped shine a spotlight on learning again, supported its new company objectives and focus on people, and showed how important learning and development is in the organisation.