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How Learning Culture Makes Getty Images the Best Place You'll Ever Work

Learning Culture at Getty Images

Photo: iStock by Getty Images  

Are you curious about what a healthy learning culture looks like? Read our interview with Kim Edwards, Talent and Leadership Development Manager at Getty Images who places learning culture at the heart of talent development.

When and why did you realise that a culture of learning is critical to organisational success? What benefits does a culture of learning yield to a company?

Linking our culture of learning to Getty Images’ success has always been something the Talent and Leadership Development team strives to do. In recent years we’ve gradually strengthened our learning culture through establishing a global on-boarding program, developing a leadership development framework, and clarifying how individual goals relate to business priorities and strategies. One benefit of this is our people now better understand that what they do and how they do it contributes to our organisation’s success which I think is crucial to developing a culture of learning. They also have more awareness that they’re always absorbing information and making decisions in all that they do – therefore always learning and applying that learning – and realise that our company encourages and appreciates that time and effort. What does a healthy professional learning culture look like to you?

One which puts the employee at the center of everything; where we always consider the impact and effect of learning, change and communication on people and allow this to drive our learning design and delivery. A culture which enables and encourages employees to contribute, collaborate and co-create and which considers the reinforcing effect and influence of managers. How can we design learning and communications with managers and leaders as champions, filters of information, and coaches?

A healthy professional learning culture is also one where accountability is woven through everything all employees say and do: encouraging ownership, honesty and responsibility; influencing choices and decision making; driving progress against business goals. In addition, I think it’s one where feedback and recognition is encouraged and appreciated, and valued as an important aspect of development and progress.

How have you engaged employees in learning at Getty Images?

We think of our employees in three segments: the senior leadership team (with a focus on leading teams of teams and influencing across the organization), people managers (who lead others to realise their full potential) and all employees (who need to get started faster and own their development). Our aim is to deliver talent and leadership development solutions targeted at critical capabilities linked to our vision, mission and strategic priorities.

This year so far, we’ve engaged senior leaders with coaching and talent action planning; people managers with an enhanced management and leadership course and improved performance development practices; and all employees with self-paced courses on professional skills, an enhanced global onboarding programme, and by providing access to on-demand online skills training. With all of our solutions, we engage by connecting with business leaders to gain buy-in, with the intended audience to discover issues and needs, with subject matter experts to co-design content. We also like to take a campaign approach like we’ve recently done with our global compliance and ethics training: an email launch, sponsored by a senior leader, followed by a series of ‘teaser’ and reminder messages on Slack, while our senior leadership team champions the initiative, driving the importance of a culture of ethics and respect.

What advice do you have for L&D professionals trying to foster a culture of learning?

For a culture of learning to be fostered successfully, the concept has to be understood, supported and driven from every level of the organization. This means the value of learning at work and self-development has to be appreciated by all, particularly amongst senior leadership who should champion it and lead by example. With our knowledge and understanding of how people work and learn, I think it’s crucial for L&D professionals to partner and influence and to be part of decision making, supported by an HR leader who truly understands and advocates for L&D.

What also helps with this is building a relationship with the internal communications team. They’re always in the know, with direct partnerships at executive level, and can help promote L&D activity, aims and brand. I’d say every business initiative and message can be supported by L&D as we have the skills to contextualize information, manage change, and help people make sense of information – it all involves learning, after all!

What role do you think technology plays in building or expanding learning cultures?

I think the needs, habits and expectations of people in a workplace – and throughout their lives – means we need to consider technology as an integral aspect of learning and therefore in building and expanding learning cultures. Technology affects the way we all work, communicate, collaborate and share and, I believe for many employees, the appeal of using intuitive and easy-to-access technology can strengthen the appeal of reviewing information and therefore learning.

We know that employees require easy and often almost-immediate access to the information they need to perform in their jobs and so we need our learning or training initiatives to respond to and fulfil that demand. In addition, there is so much information at our fingertips that an important part of encouraging or expanding a learning culture is to curate and prioritize information for employees – making it easy for them to find what they need.

How do you measure the impact a learning culture has on your organisation?

While I’m not yet sure we have a culture or environment that inspires learning at all times and keeps it at the heart of everything we do, we are striving to be better at measuring the impact our learning and training initiatives have on our organization – its success and the performance of our people. We have a much more goal-oriented culture now where every individual, team, department, project, program and initiative has clear goals and priorities, making it easier for us to report on progress and success. We also measure employee engagement, officially, twice a year, and work towards commitments to increase people’s engagement, motivation and well-being. Our senior leaders also interact with employees on a regular basis to gather feedback and ideas – we encourage all levels of the organization to just talk to each other to better connect and learn.

What's next in your L&D strategy to further develop the learning culture at Getty Images?

We’ve recently introduced a line of business (LOB) HR business partner model where senior HR leaders partner with and support department leaders and we’re finding this to be a great way to activate, promote and advocate for our talent and leadership development solutions. Now, every time we launch a new learning opportunity, we ask our LOB HRBPs to inform, support, follow-up and participate while our Regional HRBPs can help the Talent and Leadership Development team to activate and facilitate training.

Our team is driving a culture of inclusion, helping the business address bias in hiring practices, supporting and expanding existing partnerships, and guiding future strategy. For what happens culturally throughout an organization is linked to what happens with learning and career development and vice-versa. Our core business values, talent calibration and development practices and capability framework all ultimately impact how we support, collaborate, learn and succeed.

So, as part of this, we’re enhancing our performance development processes by working towards more aligned performance ratings and definitions and clearer talent and succession planning. We’re establishing more defined philosophies for continuous feedback and career mapping, along with capabilities that articulate key behaviours aligned to our Leadership Principles (core values).

In addition, we’re enhancing the technology we use to promote and deliver digital learning; rebranding and restructuring our learning portal, integrating an on-demand online skills training subscription, and scaling existing networks and learning communities.

As I’m sure every L&D professional and team can appreciate there’s always a lot to do! I think by keeping the employee at the core, forming a strong influencing partnership with senior leaders, and recognising the links between culture, talent and learning, a strong learning culture can be established.

This interview is part of the U.K. L&D Report 2018.

Download the full report below:

L&D report

What's included?

  • The employee training budgets, training topics, and training methods of organisations in 2018.

  • Practical advice from L&D leaders to help you adopt new technologies, nurture a learning culture, get the most from the apprenticeship levy and measure and promote the value of workplace learning.

  • How learning professionals rate the executive engagement in learning, assess the impact of training and more!

U.K. L&D Report: 2018
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Contact Details

Kim Edwards works as the Senior Talent & Leadership Development Manager for Getty Images. She has been with the company since 2013 before working instructional design for Kineo, Commelius Solutions, and Saffron Interactive.

She is the co-presenter of Learning Now TV, a live-streamed internet TV channel bringing inspirational interviews, debates and round tables, and advice and guidance on real-world issues to anyone interested in L&D, HR, talent and recruitment, social learning, technology and organisational development

Edwards has a BA Hons from the University of Nottingham.

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Last updated: 10 Jul 2019

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