Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Highly Commended - getAbstract Impact Award for Inspiring a Lifelong Learning Culture


The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s Learning at Work Week 2023 supported two objectives of its corporate strategy. These objectives focus on internal capabilities and external impact, of which ‘contributing to a culture of learning and continuous improvement’ is an important part. The aim for Learning at Work Week was to reinforce this by promoting a lifelong learning culture, where colleagues could explore the organisation’s learning and development offer and consider their skillsets and ways to develop further.  

An organisation-wide working group was set up which role-modelled collaboration, created organisational buy-in, and helped align the week to the corporate objectives. Working together, the Learning and Development team, ICT, HR and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team collectively designed and delivered a varied and inclusive programme for the week, alongside colleagues from the Operations and Senior Leadership teams.  
The activities on offer included: 

A welcome session that included a discussion about job-shadowing and career coaching  
In-person bitesize workshops on topics including Excel, wild writing and mindfulness, and live demos of new technology to help colleagues work smarter  
A career journeys talk by the Senior Leadership Team, with honest reflections and discussions on their own careers. This was delivered virtually so it was accessible to all, with the Q&A session aimed to encourage career development discussions. It was supported by further sessions on transferable skills, confidence boosting, and ‘squiggly’ careers.  

Throughout the sessions, the importance of both lifelong and continual learning was emphasised. Colleagues were able to declare an interest in workshops that they were unable to attend so that additional sessions could be scheduled, meaning engagement continued outside of the focus week.  

The working group started promotions early, highlighting in communications the benefits of taking part, and signposting colleagues to the branded learning management system with information and how to enrol. The week was further promoted through daily articles on the intranet, via managers directly to their teams, and through LinkedIn posts.   

The working group collected both qualitative and quantitative evidence, including session feedback and reflections on the published articles, to evaluate the content and how it supported social learning.  There was an 80% increase in attendance on the previous year, and the activities scored highly in feedback. Colleagues reported increased awareness of technology and how it can support them to work efficiently. They learned skills to manage change effectively and techniques to handle stresses. They also gained insight into the corporate objectives, and increased understanding of how their roles supported the organisation’s vision. Colleagues were able to reflect on their own career aspirations and development plans.   

The Learning at Work Week helped colleagues refocus on the organisation’s strategic direction. There is a better understanding of skills gaps, which will help the Learning and Development team to focus training based on needs. With employees having a greater awareness of what is available to support their wellbeing, the organisation can make better use of its benefits package. Going forward, the working group will aim to expand the number of colleagues involved in delivery of Learning at Work Week 2024 to promote greater inclusivity.