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Turning learning into a ‘fiesta’



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As budgets tightened, SingTel needed to generate a better culture of learning. Aileen Tan, group director of HR, explains how the company became more innovative. 

Creating a learning culture while managing training costs was a problem the SingTel learning and development team faced in 2008.

With budgets tightened at the start of the global downturn, the team was faced with the challenge of providing training to 13,000 employees in the most cost-effective manner possible.

Because SingTel operates in the telecommunications, ICT and digital industries – all of which are fast-paced businesses, with rapidly evolving technology – to keep pace with the ever-changing market, we are focused on building a learning culture across all levels of our organisation, from the customer support and administrative staff, to the technical specialists and the leadership teams.

Similar to many organisations, SingTel applies the 70:20:10 principle of learning, with 70% of learning from on the job experiences, 20% from networks and relationships and 10% from formal training courses.

Given the need to keep employees up to date with the latest products and technology, a large portion of our training budget is spent on technical and product training.

During the economic slowdown, the priority of the business was to deliver required technical training and other programmes to enable employees to better serve customers. As a result, this meant limited offerings for formal training courses for a large portion of the company.

The challenge faced by the L&D team was to provide a wide range of courses that would appeal to all levels of employees.

This meant holding training at multiple locations across Singapore and creating a sense of excitement and energy about learning, while managing costs. Faced with these multiple objectives, the team took an innovative approach and partnered with training vendors as well as other internal departments – and the SingTel Learning Fiesta was born. This Fiesta is now an annual event, held over three days at five locations across Singapore.

It provides more than 100 bite-sized sessions covering more than 40 topics for employees at all levels to develop personal and professional skills. By working with our learning partners, we are able to offer the entire programme at less than $10 per attendee.

Courses are one to three hours in length and are offered in five streams of learning: innovation/change management, personal excellence, service excellence, health and wealth and technology.

Examples of topics include MS Office tips and tricks, cloud computing, managing stress, DIY retirement planning, cross-cultural communications, essentials of 4G, how to nurture a champion mindset in your people and how to manage your health.

Since its inception in 2008, participation has multiplied from 4,000 seats to more than 7,000 seats in 2012, a testament to the strong interest and participation from employees. The L&D team has set a challenge to make each year better than the last and new courses and learning solutions have continued to be introduced, such as e-learning, mobile learning, online video on-demand, and most recently a mobile app for event interaction.

In addition to partnering with our external training vendors to offer courses, the team works with the vendors and the internal marketing team to provide giveaways and lucky draw prizes to create a feeling of excitement and celebration.

The SingTel Learning Fiesta has been very successful at creating a sense of continuous learning across the organisation and it has had a positive impact on the learning and development scores in our annual engagement survey.

Because of the effectiveness and popularity of the programme, versions have been held at Optus in Australia (a wholly owned SingTel entity) as well as in our associated companies across the region.



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