Business Transformation

Learning that cuts through the noise

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Between the pings of email, Slack, Skype, Microsoft Teams and whatever other systems your business uses, it’s a wonder there’s time to get anything done at all. Workers today are subject to a whole lot of noise from a whole lot of channels - so how on earth can you help your people cut through that noise and focus on what’s important?

Where businesses go wrong with comms

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Internal comms are one of the most overlooked aspects of working life. If it’s managed well, nobody notices. If it’s managed badly, everybody notices. 

Maintaining clear, open comms channels throughout your organisation is key to your long-term success, whether you’re a small business of 10 people or a giant global behemoth with half a million employees. Typically, as businesses increase in scale, they mistakenly believe that the best way to manage more comms is with more channels… but what if the opposite is true?

This is a challenge that Steve Thompson, Senior Director of Learning and Talent Development at Greystar, encountered:

“It can almost create a wall of white noise where you can’t see the wood for the trees. You can’t get to the content you need at the time you need it, and the more content you upload, the bigger this challenge will be.”

And it’s true! Throwing more content at a comms challenge is very rarely the solution - but making that content crystal clear and easier to find usually is. If your people are finding themselves overwhelmed with stuff and not knowing where to go to find what they need, what can you do to help them out?

Content curation vs creation

Bob ross painting a lovely picture

For Greystar, part of organising the huge amount of information available to employees meant taking a critical look at its current approach.

Greystar Business School is its central learning and communications platform for all global employees, featuring tailored playlists of content and learning for different audiences. It’s the go-to place for learning, knowledge sharing and comms at Greystar.

But as Greystar grew, it needed a way to better embed learning into the flow of work and connect the right people with the right content at the right time. That’s where Learning Academies came in.

Learning Academies are a super simple way for Greystar to curate content relevant to employees in a specific role or specific location. It didn’t require anyone to create any new content - instead, it allows Greystar to make smarter use of what they already have, making it quicker and easier for everyone to find the exact information they need.

Looking for an easy, cost-effective solution to your content challenge?
Content Hub in collaboration with Hemsley Fraser could be right for you...


Leveraging push notifications


Outside times of crisis, most business communications can be consumed in employees’ own time. If they don’t spot an announcement about a new elearning course until two days after it goes live, it’s not a big deal.

But in times of rapid change, it’s a different story. If a situation is changing frequently, employees need to be kept in the loop. For instance, if you’re in the consumer products biz, you’ll know how quickly products are updated, which means a whole new set of information to learn at speed. That’s where push notifications can come in handy. Push notifications (called ‘nudges’ in 5app) can alert employees to new posts or important announcements in real time, so they don’t miss out on what they need to know.

The trick here is not to overutilise push notifications. If you use them for every new piece of content, it starts to feel a bit like the boy who cried wolf. If everything is super important, it means nothing is super important. 

Another way you might want to use nudges is for important reminders. For instance, if you have a survey deadline approaching, or a certification window is about to close, your employees will need to know about this, and a nudge will maximise the number of people who complete a given action in time.

Real-time news, information and learning

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The 2020 global pandemic is a prime example of a time where change was constant and confusing. Employees went from working on-site to being forced to work remotely, indefinitely, and the ever-changing global situation obviously weighed heavily on most of the workforce.

That’s why Greystar decided to combat the relentless influx of information with a single, highly curated feed that combined essential government updates with lighter content around wellbeing and working productively from home, again combining the power of humans working with tech for the best outcomes. Steve explains why this live feed was so popular with employees around the world:


“During the pandemic, we had to be incredibly agile. We created a live news feed within our 5app platform, which pulled in real-time government announcements, along with our own resources around working from home, getting better use out of Microsoft Teams and using our systems.

With everyone’s worlds being turned upside down overnight, we also used that feed to share 10-minute recipes, suggestions for what to watch on Netflix and more. We were able to create a real community feel with this feed that went beyond traditional learning and resulted in real engagement in what was a challenging time for the whole team.”

This is a crucial point: it really does pay to know your audience when you want to get eyes on your most important content. While the breaking news was extremely important in the early weeks of the pandemic, it was vital to acknowledge the huge mental toll that lockdown and the constant uncertainty were taking on employees. That’s why at Greystar, they made an effort to ask employees what they wanted to see in the news feed, ensuring people stayed entertained and feeling supported instead of weighed down by heavy news stories.


Cut the clutter

marie kondo cleaning up

How are your content engagement rates looking? How much of the content on your platform is viewed daily? Weekly? Monthly? How much of it hasn’t been looked at once in two years? Take a peek at your platform data, and if most of your resources are gathering dust, it could be time for a proper content audit.

As part of your content audit, you can split resources into three lists: keep, update, retire. Questions to consider include:

  • Is this topic still relevant?
  • Is this the best format for this content?
  • Is this resource easy enough to find?
  • Is this resource in the right place?
  • Is this content duplicated elsewhere on the platform?

Any outdated, irrelevant or low-quality content can be archived or deleted immediately to remove distractions, while any content to be updated can be reviewed and tweaked by the relevant SME. 

Sometimes, reorganising your content will give you the results you’re looking for. That might mean pulling it into a programme, a personalised learning path or a playlist. Or why not take a leaf out of Greystar’s book and build your own elegantly simple Learning Academies?


Want to cut through the noise and surface what really matters?

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