Diversity and Inclusion, Language Training

What I learned at Learning Technologies 2020 (it’s not what you think)

Learning Technologies

Disclaimer: While these insights are written for the UK, they are widely relevant to a global language learning audience.

Yes, that’s a clickbait headline but I’m not ashamed of it because it’s true.

I’ve been to a few trade shows in my time. You always think once you’ve been to one you’ve been to them all, and yes there’s always going to be that element at any tradeshow.

Learning Technologies is an annual tradeshow held in London, with the very best in eLearning software and platforms attending. It’s a well-run event with over 20,000 people looking to explore the latest trends and technology within the world of Learning and Development (L&D).

I was expecting to come away with new insights and fresh ways of approaching B2B sales and marketing, but I didn’t expect there to be so much focus on well-being and people.

In the world of L&D, HR, Chief People Officers, eLearning Co-ordinators, Data Analysts, Teachers, it’s incredibly easy to get bogged down in the learning aspect of projects.

How well are employees performing?

Has ROI increased 10x?

Has this made a difference to the company on a wider level?

But what if we focused on more than just learning and development in an academic or vocational sense? Could we achieve these goals, without a specific learning goal?

What is well-being?

A quick Google search suggests that well-being is about being able to cope with your current surroundings, having positive self-esteem, and having productive relationships that matter. It may mean many different things in many different situations but it all boils down to personal value.

Personal value is both internal and external, are you able to give yourself the best you deserve? Are you giving value to your network/community in a way that increases others’ well-being?

So now that we understand well-being a little better, why should it have an impact on learning and development? Why was it one of the best-attended presentations at Learning Technologies (that I saw)?

Well-being is on trend

And quite rightly. Companies invest heavily in developing staff, partially to keep retention high and turnover costs low. People continually shout out for courses and programs that allow them to upskill more effectively.

But you never normally hear employees asking for well-being training.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not needed.

According to the UK’s Mental Health Foundation (MHF), 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace with women nearly twice as likely to be affected.

The study also produced evidence to suggest that 12.7% of all sick days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions.

All this contributes to companies facing huge productivity issues if employees are not able to effectively take care of themselves, how can they produce their best work each day?

Once upon a time there was so much stigma around mental health and acknowledging a lack of well-being that no one ever spoke about how they were really feeling. It was all ‘stiff upper lip’ and ‘brush it under the carpet’ while we all kept calm and carried on. Well not anymore.

There has been a huge surge in publicity around well-being and how important it is to appreciate your mental health.

Many politicians, celebrities, influencers, academics, musicians speak up and out for mental well-being. UK charities such as Mind and Time to Change also continue to run campaigns that feature heavily on social media.

The presentation I saw by Brightwave concentrated on five main points to help with well-being:

  • Be Active: exercise, take a walk, move whenever you can
  • Connect: invest in relationships, face-to-face is best
  • Give: whether that be time or money or help
  • Take Notice: look around you and appreciate what you have
  • Keep Learning: a language, a sport, a new skill – keep the brain juices flowing

By incorporating these practices into daily work life, there will hopefully be an improvement in employee mental health as well as morale.

Learn how to be well

As the negative perceptions of talking about mental health continue to diminish, it seems like employees are looking to their workplaces as an extended support network. There is less fear around opening up and repercussions of being open about your mental well-being.

So it was fantastic to see that this movement had been acknowledged at Learning Technologies and a whole session dedicated to well-being in the workplace.

Data and ROI were taken away and emotional intelligence and well-being were put under the spotlight.

I’m hoping this trend of including emotional well-being under workplace learning and development continues; it can bring nothing but major positive changes.

Stephanie Stretton
Language Learning Consultant
Stephanie is a Language Learning Consultant, looking after the European region. She works closely with large corporations, schools, universities and non-profits to help personalize language learning strategies. When not at work, Stephanie is normally at a music concert or trying to improve her drumming skills.