Winner - OpenLearn Impact Award for Supporting Business and Organisational Goals
Balfour Beatty designed its winning Learning at Work Week campaign in May 2023 to support employees to navigate their careers and access the training they need to grow a long-term career at the company. They believe that their long-term success as a business is built upon the development and performance of their people. They wanted to everyone to feel valued and included, and improve the development and retention of critical skills in the business.
The Balfour Beatty Academy team recognised that careers and development are very individual. They decided to recruit and upskill a large group of experienced, passionate volunteers from all parts of the business and locations who could provide one-to-one career focused conversations with colleagues, run daily career webinars and create daily career themed blogs. By developing Balfour Beatty’s internal experts as a coach for others through upskilling, the hope was that they would guide their colleagues during Learning at Work Week and longer term.
The activities for the week were open to everyone, they focused on trying to reach a wide variety of roles, grades and locations and expert roles including early career programme graduates, middle and senior managers, project managers, commercial managers and engineers. As well as one-to-one coaching sessions and career webinars, daily blogs and tools covered topics such as squiggly careers, networking, resilience with setbacks, career ownership and career self-awareness.
The 109 volunteer coaches were accessible to everyone in Balfour Beatty across its UK sites. Employees could access a central online site to choose a coach to suit their location and career needs and receive a tailored conversation from someone different to their line manager and gain the critical skills and role opportunities relevant to them. Internal experts were able to share their varied career stories, become a long-term mentor and pass on their knowledge.
Learning at Work Week was launched through a blog to all employees. This used inclusive and engaging language with an empowering message on shaping colleagues’ careers and introducing the career-focused conversations with experienced volunteers. The team used different communication channels to reach different audiences with tailored messages for local promotion. These channels included the dedicated online page with all the coaches' details, internal social media, line manager newsletters, advertisements at the end of previous courses, local business and job family calls and emails.
In total 84 sessions were delivered during the week. There was an increase in engagement on webinars and use of Balfour Beatty’s academy page. Employees who took part reported a range of benefits and themes that were explored including where to go next in their career, the career opportunities available and how to access them, how to get promoted or move into a different role, and how to become professionally qualified with a professional body and getting sponsorship. Employees’ confidence grew through encouragement.
By using internal resources across all the company’s locations, the business has been able to reach more employees and make internal opportunities more visible. By engaging key colleagues who needed support, development and career advice, the business will benefit from higher retention in the long-term. Balfour Beatty will build on the success of the week and continue develop and promote career coaching on a regular basis.