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Why peer learning?

If you’re reading this, you probably don’t need convincing that all organizations need a learning culture.

Companies without one are slower to market, less likely to meet future skills demands, and have less productive employees (according to Josh Bersin’s study of 40,000 organizations).

Until now, people thought a learning culture was about getting workers to learn and unlearn technical skills.

But today, a learning culture also means having the ability to learn and evolve behavioral skills in a continuous cycle too.

According to PWC, a third of CEOs say the inability to develop new behavioral skills is one of their top three threats to growth.

And People Leaders know this. They have been plugging away at building new behavioral skills quickly and at scale for years.

It is a thankless task and it has never been as hard as it is today.

Today, what companies need from their people and what employees expect from their companies is pretty fluid and it changes really quickly.

What an inclusive leader was a year ago isn’t what an inclusive leader is today.

A year ago, we needed people to learn how to be more resilient. Today they need to look after their mental health and that of their teams.

And we’re asking leaders to put new things on their plates all the time. Whether it’s being able to have conversations about race or answering questions about your approach to sustainability.

What makes it even harder is that with the pace of change as fast as it is, our old approaches just don’t cut it anymore.

They give People Leaders a headache and never really achieve the right outcomes. Creating and sustaining behavior change is hard and People Leaders need better tools for the job.

Our old ways of working give People Leaders a headache

It used to be that once a year, companies would put every employee through some kind of face-to-face training or e-learning module when it came to things like diversity and inclusion or developing leadership skills.

Today, people leaders have a cocktail of different methods to turn to, whether it’s webinars, e-learning modules in the LXP, or a comprehensive comms plan.

But these methods aren’t ideal for three reasons.

1. They’re really hard and expensive to scale, especially for lean People teams who have to deliver them and are at increased risk of burning out
2. They are often impossible to update quickly, so by the time you’ve managed to deliver a new piece of training it’s already out of date
3. They rely on People Leaders stringing together a complex web of data to figure out whether change is actually sticking

It’s clear companies need a new, agile approach to embedding new behaviors quickly, at scale, and a new way to make them stick.

We think the answer is peer learning

Peer learning takes the behavior change cycle out of your hands as a HR leader and puts it directly into the hands of your people.

People have been talking about social and collaborative learning for years — the idea that you learn together and from each other.

That’s really important.

The science of peer learning operates on the same foundations but it’s more focused and more specific.

It’s about more than just people adding comments on content or getting together in a group (face-to-face or digitally) to ask questions or share ideas.

Peer learning gets everyone on the same page about what good behavior looks like, gives people the tools to hold each other to account, and creates fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) to drive action.

It democratizes talent development by making it easy to see who is role-modeling the right behaviors, how, and when.

It harnesses the power of early adopters and converted cynics alike, giving them a voice to share their moments of enlightenment and bring others with them on the journey.

When you activate peer learning, you empower every employee to take on responsibility for the change you need to drive and help behavior change contagiously spread.

And if you’re activating peer learning across your whole company, change can happen fast.


Throughout history, hierarchies housed in high towers have claimed to rule, but real power has resided in the networks in the town square below. It is networks that innovate. And it is through networks that revolutionary ideas contagiously spread. Niall Ferguson, Academic and author of The Square and the Tower

How we apply the science of peer learning

At Hive Learning, we activate peer learning in two key ways — with peer learning programs and peer learning networks. 

Peer learning programs accelerate initial shifts in behavior quickly.

They are fixed-length and delivered programmatically to build behavioral skills in business-critical areas like inclusion, mental health, and leadership and management. 
They’re action-oriented, built with experts, available off-the-shelf and to customize, and every piece of content is designed to spark discussion, reflection, and action. 

Mapped to the specific outcomes you need to deliver, people will learn in a group so everyone understands what behaviors are expected of them, and we’ll use conversation starters and practical team session guides to help people hold each other to account. 

Plus, our programs are focused on creating that all-important FOMO for people who aren’t getting involved, yet

We can deliver peer learning programs for cohorts of 50 to 50,000 people, meaning behavior change spreads and embeds quickly. 

In our programs, we typically see 88% of people take action on what they’ve learned in under three months.

Peer learning networks are ongoing communities that keep learners accountable, sustain change and help companies quickly respond to new behavioral needs.

They can be attached to peer learning programs or your own key strategy enablers and behavioral skill programs to power the peer network effect.

Our customers use sustainers to maintain ongoing momentum after the initial shift. They use peer-driven nudges to bring employees back to relevant content, overcoming the forgetting curve and continuously building skills in key behavioral areas. 

For example, imagine you ran a peer learning program on inclusion a few months ago to accelerate skills around the basics. Today, people need to be able to have conversations about antiracism because of a recent news story that’s blowing up and impacting employees.

Your inclusion program didn’t cover this but today’s world needs this skill. Your peer learning network lets you reach people quickly and gives them an opportunity to feed back and start the behavior change cycle again.  

In our networks, we see 78% of participants engage every month, keeping the momentum up, making behavior change stick, and helping people maintain optimal performance. 


The science of peer learning in five pillars

How did we arrive at these solutions?

Over the past seven years, we’ve become obsessed with how behavior change happens at work and in the real world. 

We’ve studied over 20,000 peer learning deployments on our platform and analyzed countless social movements in the real world from Black Lives Matter to Greta Thunberg and the School Climate strikes. 

What we’ve learned is that whether you want to create a more inclusive culture, embed a new mindset for your leaders, or change public policy, there are five common characteristics that make change stick at work and in the real world.  

These five pillars of peer learning are a combination of network science and nudge theory and they underpin everything we do. 


All successful social movements are unified around a common goal. Peer learning should clearly map to the company’s culture strategy and be designed around measurable outcomes.


Real culture change is driven by the people. Peer learning empowers your workforce to drive the conversation and be accountable for change. Culture change is created by those who live in it.


Modern cultural movements are fueled by network effects. People trust their peers more than they trust authority figures, so digital peer learning borrows the good bits from social media and puts peers front and center to accelerate skill adoption, maintain high levels of engagement, and create accountability.


Behavior change must be practical, not just ideological. Peer learning puts theory into practice, helping large groups of learners turn new knowledge into everyday habits at the same time. This creates measurable behavior change that spreads quickly.


The most successful social movements become viral and self-sustaining. Peer learning is designed to identify influencers and role models within workforces and empower them to keep driving change forward. We use peer-driven smart nudges and notifications to keep people talking and encourage continuous action.


Introducing peer learning to your organization

We know that for many teams — especially in traditional, enterprise organizations — adopting a peer learning approach to behavior change can seem like a daunting prospect. But it doesn’t have to be.

Whether you’re worried no one will participate, you don’t know how to get people comfortable sharing, or you’re not sure you have the right skills within your team to deliver it, we’ll be with you every step of the way.

We understand what it takes to create behavior change in even the most traditional of enterprise organizations. 

We’ll help you stage manage your programs, using our playbook designed using over 20,000 deployments, and map them to the unique business outcomes you need to create.

We’ll jointly own your success measures and use real-time insights to continually test, iterate and adapt programs to make sure that you’re achieving the critical outcomes for your business strategy. 

We’ll help you benchmark your organization and unlock insights into your culture and your employee’s needs you can’t get anywhere else.

And most importantly, we’ll train your team in how to activate peer learning so it creates behavior change that sticks. 

Hive Learning’s approach to peer learning helps people teams deliver behavior change in a continuous cycle. It’s how enterprise companies unlock agility, high performance, and help their people stay happy, healthy, and productive.

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