31 January 2022

Congratulations to DePaul on their 2021 HR Leadership and Management Award for Best Learning and Development Strategy

Congratulations to DePaul on their 2021 HR Leadership and Management Award for Best Learning and Development Strategy.

Harvest has been working in partnership with DePaul since 2019 on many of their leadership development programmes and was delighted to hear about their achievement. We were pleased with the opportunity to talk to Sarah Reeves, HR Manager with DePaul about their exciting achievement at the 2021 HR Leadership and Management Awards. Below Sarah shares her insights and thoughts on the journey they took to achieve this prestigious award.

How did DePaul get involved in the HR Leadership and Management Awards 2021? What was involved? Is this DePaul’s first time to participate?

We felt that we had an L&D strategy that was mature enough to put forward an entry to the HR Leadership and Management Awards 2021. We submitted an application to enter and outlined how the L&D strategy was developed and the business needs that prompted it. We provided an overview of how the L&D strategy was implemented and communicated. We also outlined the challenges that we faced as a team and how we overcame them. We highlighted the outcomes of the L&D strategy and provided evidence of the success of our strategy and how we measured it. Finally, we provided evidence of board-level commitment to L&D.

What type of Learning & Development initiatives or interventions did DePaul include to achieve the Best Learning and Development Strategy award? What made these L&D initiatives special or different? What were the benefits to DePaul?

Our L&D strategy was devised in 2019. Having this robust strategy in place pre-COVID guided us tremendously over the pandemic (some headings include Futureproof ourselves, User Experience and Innovation). We were forced to accelerate the shift towards digital learning, to support redeployment and reskilling. We had to reshape the way we had to work so that we could achieve the best outcomes for our service users, support our teams throughout the organisation and be future-ready. 

To this end, we offer a variety of learning and development opportunities which include: 

Leadership Development:

  • Empowering Leaders refresher course with an emphasis on communications to help managers to manage their teams through a hybrid model as we have a mix of employees working on the front line and remotely
  • Emerging Leaders is a fast track to management programme to build a pipeline of future leaders for the sector. This allows us to support, engage and retain our talented employees with a career path into management. Through this more focused approach to talent development, our employees have been able to progress to management positions in the organisation
  • We launched a Making Every Engagement Matter programme to help empower managers and their teams in a virtual landscape. This programme helped us to better analyse the functional and structural approach to how, when and why meetings are happening and to review techniques and tools to counter some of the challenges that were occurring. 

Skills Development:

  • Personal Effectiveness online modules including Time Management, Communication and Building Resilience etc
  • Management Essentials QQI Certification using a blended learning approach, through a mix of online learning and virtual classrooms
  • Interview Skills for Managers in a virtual environment
  • Mandatory/Compliance training 

Health and Wellbeing:

  • Lunch and Learn Diversity and Inclusion topics, Covid awareness including information on vaccinations, mental health awareness and digital skills e.g. Zoom tips and tricks 
  • It is so important to us that our values remain alive in the work we do and that we take time to reflect on these, especially during challenging times. With this in mind, we ran Vision, Mission and Values Inductions and refreshers 
  • We created bespoke blended learning modules through the use of subject matter experts on Health and Wellbeing topics such as Alcohol Awareness, Drug Awareness, and Mental Health Awareness

Technology and Digital delivery:

  • We also use technology to enhance our employee onboarding and induction programmes, so new joiners have immediate access to a suite of learning modules. We have also reduced time to competency for new joiners through a highly efficient induction programme. During these times, attitudes about learning are evolving, and there is now more than ever an increased appreciation for virtual delivery. 
  • Overall, the onset of Covid created significant challenges and solutions were multifaceted. We took action straight away with the use of our Moodle LMS, implemented a number of Covid related training and information programmes, communications hub, daily and weekly updates (using a variety of multimedia), the introduction of a weekly forum in the form of Moodle Monday which became the vehicle to drive and embed L&D throughout the organisation in this period of flux and uncertainty.

How did your work with Harvest support your application?

We worked with Harvest on some of our leadership development programmes such as Empowering Leaders, and we were supported in designing and delivering this programme. We then refreshed it in 2020 to emphasise communication and team management in a hybrid world. We have also worked with Harvest to design the Emerging Leaders programme and to deliver ‘train the trainer’ to our panel of internal trainers. We adapted it this year to a virtual classroom with the support of Harvest.

What are the next steps for DePaul?

We are looking forward to the future and what lies ahead for L&D and iterating and enhancing our organisational digital learning landscape. We are very excited about developing a formal mentoring programme to support managers and we are engaged with Harvest on designing the framework and training for this programme.