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Yes, You Can Consistently Learn and Have Fun At the Same Time

Sunshine, water, nutritious soil beneath and plenty of room above - these are what it takes to grow a plant. Through the imaginative eyes of Grace Yip, Head of HR at Accenture ASEAN, she sees in sprouts of green the modern process of learning. When the conditions are aligned, growth is inevitable. But why settle at growing when we can thrive?

Make Learning a Deliberate Choice

When asked about her success, Grace often cites continuous learning as one of the critical factors. “Learning doesn’t happen by chance, it needs to be deliberately made a part of your daily life,” said Grace. In the case of a plant, prioritising learning is comparable with giving it fertiliser on top of the essentials to help accelerate its growth. The age of universal access to information has largely smoothed out the starting line worldwide, creating competitions that are fiercer than ever. To rise above, it’s important to consistently seek improvement on our own initiative.

For Grace, she keeps a ritual of drawing out a learning plan every six months. Laying down a mindmap of things she wants to learn - both professionally and personally - allows her to be mindful of her interests and curiosities. It also helps her visualize connections between the topic, which she reviews every now and then to identify related subjects she can study further. She does, however, caution against over-structuring: the aim of the plan is to ensure continuous learning, so it should remain flexible and fun.

To keep things interesting, Grace leverages different methods to learn. She repurposes dead-weight time into microlearning sessions throughout the day with technology-driven solutions - a highly efficient strategy that results in 20% more retention than long-form training. Resources like podcasts enable her to absorb bite-sized knowledge while she autopilots through certain routines, like brushing her teeth.

Learning as a Company Culture

While learning could be a personal venture, most employees still value learning opportunities at their workplace. In fact, LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report found that 94% of employees would remain at a company longer if it invests in their learning. At Accenture, learning is deeply embedded in the culture and implemented top-down. “We actually spent almost USD8mil in the last financial year in our region on learning,” Grace recounted.

To inspire a learning movement, CEO Julie Sweet employs an internal platform called The Learning Board, where employees document their learning journey on a feature similar to Pinterest. Employees are encouraged to acquire technology quotient (TQ), in addition to the more widely known EQ and IQ. Utilising technology, Sweet successfully piqued the employees’ interests in what she’s learning and gained a huge following on her learning board. This motivates other leaders to do the same, which in turn fostered a learning culture within the organization.

Make Learning Fun

Unfortunately, even a strong company culture that takes pride in learning couldn’t escape the threats of boredom. “Nobody is going to spend an extra hour a day to learn if they think it’s really boring,” said Grace, who is a big believer in fun. She established Rockstar Recruiters, a school of rock with innovative and user-centric curriculums for recruiters to experiment with their skills. Besides traditional approaches such as seminars, Grace integrates immersive learning experiences to engage participants with the content and prompt deep reflections.

Taking into account durable learning concepts, Grace emphasizes on the importance of combining long-term theoretical reinforcement with action learning. Admittedly, it takes more work, but the results are well worth the effort. In order to instill behavioral changes and foster creativity, a mindset change is first in order. “We’re going to have to employ new, different methods instead of just putting content out there and trying to figure out how much we can get into somebody in an hour”.

*Statements have been slightly edited for brevity

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