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How Cognism Built Culture, Community And People In Their Learning Platform

Your learning platform isn’t just a place for learning! It’s somewhere to shape your culture, a tool for building communities and giving people a platform to grow in every sense.

Something Cognism’s People Team have done brilliantly! They’ve used initiatives that aren’t strictly about work to make learning fun and a habit, they’ve tapped into topical events and causes that matter to their people to build communities, and so much more.

Katie Harrison, People Operations at Cognism, joined us live to discuss how they’ve done it and offer some innovative ideas for how you can do the same.

Cognism’s creative ways to get people into their learning platform

If nobody knows about your learning platform, you can’t use it to drive community, culture, learning or very much at all. So, your first hurdle in the race to learning engagement is awareness.

Katie and the team at Cognism have focused on the things people care about outside of work to make them aware and excited about HowNow. They created content about Pride Month, Earth Day and International Women’s Day, tapping into their team’s passion around these issues. 

On Random Acts of Kindness Day, they sent everybody a bunch of flowers and then used the knowledge hub to share content around that. They’ve also provided mental health and wellbeing support through the platform, offering webinars and then making those available on-demand for anyone who couldn’t join live. 

The goal has been to get people interested in what they’re doing as a company and find common interests and passions across that. That’s been part of Cognism’s drive to create community, share content they care about and encourage people to then find content around their role in the platform.

How Cognism made their learning platform a more fun place to be

It’s the first time we’ve heard of people running a baby photo competition in our platform, and we love it! Around Easter, Katie asked everyone to send in pictures of their younger selves, and whoever guessed the most correctly won a prize. Given that senior management was involved too, you can imagine how excited people must have been to log in.

And you’ll often find that the power comes in enlisting people as advocates! Cognism launched their Learning Champions Initiative recently, encouraging people to share about their passions or shout out their department’s recent achievements and activities. For the sales team, that might mean flagging the deal of the month, or the product team might provide an update on their progress. In both instances, it’s a way to make your learning platform part of the communication process and a hub for positivity.

Who wouldn’t want to be a champion!? Katie found that simply by asking for volunteers, sending out an email to understand their passions and how they might want to be involved, she found some truly engaged advocates for both their causes and the platform itself. Every six weeks, they get together and chat about what they’ve got coming up, what they’re going to do and continue building that community.

In Katie’s opinion, it’s fun when people are engaged, and you’re being creative with how you’re doing that! They’ve run book clubs in HowNow, sharing lists and podcasts that recommend what you should be reading. New groups based around those books are created within HowNow, and that idea of community takes shape even more.

They’ve also shared recipes and encouraged people to test them out, engage around them and perhaps share their culinary works of art on the platform.

How to build a learning habit through your platform

It’s not all fun and games! Cognism have also been encouraging people to find materials that make them better at their job and migrate existing behaviours into HowNow. 

One thing that helps is buy-in from the top of the food chain! Cognism’s CEO has been very passionate about making everything accessible on their knowledge hub. Everything has gone into HowNow, and it’s become their social platform in many ways, with announcements posted and all learning materials added there. That leadership involvement has made it easier to get others involved and build momentum for how the platform is used. 

For example, every time there’s a company town hall with updates from senior managers, Katie uploads the slides and video for anyone who couldn’t join or wants to watch it back. It’s all these little things that build a habit!

Encouraging new starters to embrace the knowledge hub during onboarding

Onboarding is a great moment to embed learning as a habit, when people are like sponges and keen to absorb as much company information as possible. At Cognism, onboarding courses and relevant content are triggered automatically at different moments and milestones after a new employee has joined. 

There are two different themes at this stage; people are either sent HR-related content or departmental resources. The former covers the things everyone needs to know, like employee benefits, expenses and company policies – all the things you want to know during that first week. 

With the departmental onboarding courses, it’s much more role-specific. Sales reps, for example, receive a product-based quiz after their fifth day, gauging their progress and understanding.

Whenever questions pop up during the early onboarding phase, the new starters are directed to HowNow – so that they get into the habit of using it as their knowledge hub. That’s where they can find the answer to the majority of their questions! 

For example, if they’re curious about who’s responsible for a certain area of the business, they can head to the ‘Meet The Team’ resource in HowNow and learn a bit more about that person – both personally and professionally.

Building communities in the remote work setting

A big tip would be keeping the conversations going and having managers direct people to the learning platform when they’re asking questions remotely. Personally, when Katie’s asked a question remotely via Slack, she shares links to learning content – reinforcing that the information is available on-demand. 

They also integrate other platforms and HowNow, so the timetables for Sales Impact Academy are added to HowNow for reps to find everything in one place. 

Planning ahead for your learning strategy and initiatives

Katie’s best advice is to maintain awareness of what’s happening around you, outside of work and keeping your eyes peeled for topical awareness days. For example, she saw a social media post about World Sleep Day on social media and made a mental note to consider how Cognism might be able to respond.

Of course, you should plan your learning content ahead of time, but being aware and reactive can help you harness that momentum from topical issues at the same time. 

Interested in driving culture, building community and encouraging people development in your teams? Let us show you around HowNow and discuss how we can help pull it all off!