Learna teaches bite-sized skills for a changing workforce

April 9, 2024

Entrepreneur Lisa Lie founded Learna in January 2023. The app is a microlearning platform teaching conflict resolution, emotional intelligence and people skills you can master in under 10 minutes. 

Ahead of Demo Day on 2 May, we spoke to Lisa about how the app is helping employers build a future-fit workforce and bringing learning opportunities into everyday work life. 

While working as a people and culture leader at some of APAC’s top ad agencies, Lisa Lie noticed professional development was becoming just another thing to do for many employees. 

“There’s so much cognitive overload at work at the moment,” she tells me. 

“And we can’t expect people to just totally disconnect from their to-do list and feel like they have another thing to do when it comes to their development.” 

Timeliness is also a factor. If you’ve ever heard of the forgetting curve, the biggest drop in retention happens soon after learning. 

So, by the time you’ve done the course and taken on the learnings, you’ll probably wish you had the insights six months ago, or the spark to make some change when the problem initially popped up, right?

Sick of designing PD programs employees weren’t actually engaging with, Lisa created Learna, a micro-learning app transforming workplace learning by providing curated, bite-sized people skills from experts that meets people where they’re at and how they like to consume content.

“I saw a gap in the learning-for-work space and a need for personalised, in the moment, actionable content to address the evolving learning needs of today’s workers,” she says. 

“After all, people skills are the ones that make the biggest difference at work.”

“And time and time again, I’ve seen these be the skills that help people adapt, progress faster, and enable non-linear career paths - and these skills just make work more enjoyable.” 

Helping people grow, not just brands.

Lisa credits soft skills development for her own success pivoting from advertising to a people and culture role in 2017 - realising she was more interested in helping people grow than brands. 

“There's actually quite a lot of similarities between those two spaces,” she explains. 

 “They're both about understanding a customer, what motivates them, what they need, and inspiring them to take some kind of action.” 

Now an accredited coach and behavioural profiling consultant, Lisa leaned heavily into her advertising background to bring Learna to life. 

Instead of developing a technical prototype first, Lisa decided to develop a brand for Learna as a strategic move to foster emotional connections with the product. 

She explains, "I wanted to make sure that there was a space for people to feel emotionally connected with this product and not feel rational and transactional like learning had in the past."

Over the next 12 months, Lisa tested the technical prototype with over 250 business leaders and people and culture experts. 

This was all while working as Head of People and Culture at Half Dome, where she created the agency’s award-winning people and culture strategy, including an industry-first unlimited annual leave experiment and agency-wide Mental Health First Aid training amid the pandemic. 

“I was really fortunate to be working within such a progressive environment,” she says. 

“And when the time came to really give the idea a go, my boss was fully onboard and even encouraged me to use [Half Dome] as an initial testing ground.”

A crucial pulse check for employers

Half Dome joined several leading independent publishers, agencies, accountants and recruiters on a paid Beta pilot in 2023, where the first iteration of Learna was put to the test. 

The key selling points for employers have been the combination of microlearning and behavioural intelligence about skills gaps within their teams, as well as the incredibly strong user engagement levels.

“It’s about creating this feedback loop with organisations to go, “Hey, maybe your team has a skills gap or need in this particular area, you might want to go further with this,” Lisa explains. 

Learna has also become a fascinating pulse check for cultural issues within teams, particularly in times of challenge and change.

Lisa points to a recent example where a company onboarded to focus on teamwork and understanding different personality types then suddenly shifted to learning around stress management, change and resilience. 

“And I asked [the manager] has anything culturally changed at the macro level for you, because we've seen a real shift in focus areas for your team?”

“And they said, no, not really. I mean, we had this minor, organisational restructure, but it was no big deal.”

“And it might not have been a big deal. But the way it was communicated, or the way it has been processed by the team felt big.”

Through Learna, management picked up on the sentiment and addressed the issue head-on - ensuring employees felt secure and safe with the change happening around them.  

The importance of people skills in the rise of AI 

While AI and automation continue to reshape the future of work, people skills are still indispensable. 

Think of the attributes of your favourite leaders: strong listening skills, the ability to empower others, grace under fire and empathy for different perspectives. 

These are the skills that AI cannot replicate and the qualities Lisa is driven to share with Learna. 

“At the end of the day, it’s about transforming people’s working lives with learning so we can create a more effective and confident workforce, and cultures oriented toward growth as part of our everyday -  not just another thing to do.” 

With bite-sized modules that can be learnt and practised in under 10 minutes - Learna will be instrumental in shaping the values and actions workplaces need to thrive. 

Because if you learn better, you work better too. 

Catch Lisa Lie at Startmate Demo Day on 2 May - Buy tickets here.

Apply for our next Accelerator cohort here.

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Written by
Written by
Holly ClarkHolly Clark
Holly is Communications Lead at LaunchVic and an inaugural Startmate Media Fellow.

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