Creating a culture of continuous learning
There’s a huge problem in the workplace that nobody is talking about, and it’s only getting bigger and bigger.
Employees are expected to know and do more than ever before. They’re expected to produce work in less time and with fewer resources.
The pace of technology and customer knowledge is increasing at a much faster pace than most employees can keep up with.
Most employees, whether they’ll admit it or not, are having a harder time keeping up.
Naturally, this is affecting work-life balance. Companies want to give their employees work-life balance, they understand its importance, but there’s a serious disconnect between expectations and reality.
Companies have tried to solve this problem with training, but like most of their efforts, nice idea, terrible execution.
Anyone that has ever been involved in any form of traditional learning knows how useless, boring, and overwhelming it can be.
You have to spend hours, sometimes entire days, sitting in a room with an instructor or reading a 100-page manual to get you “up and running quickly”.
That just doesn’t work.
There are three reasons why the traditional model of learning is broken.
- Employees are overworked as it is, they don’t have time to spend days training
- Employees are more distracted than ever before (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pokemon)
- Employees don’t have the attention span for that anymore. In fact, human have shorter attention spans than goldfish
Plus, people aren’t staying in their jobs for as long as they used to. This makes it harder to build that wealth of knowledge over time.
Luckily, there’s an answer to all of this – Microlearning.
Microlearning is the way training should be done
Microlearning is all about creating “bite-sized” content for employees to learn from.
It’s much more in tune with the way people live now – quick, short, personalized.
Some people learn faster than others, some people prefer videos to text, so it’s important to adjust accordingly.
Salman Khan, creator of the Khan Academy, was onto something when he completely disrupted the way learning was done in schools. The same principle should be applied in workplaces.
Important: There’s a huge misconception out there about microlearning. The point of microlearning isn’t to take an hour-long video and break it down into 60 one-minute videos.
Microlearning is a completely different way of thinking about training and development.
Here are a few reasons why microlearning is good for your organization.
Good For People With Short Attention Spans
Many people have short attention spans, microlearning helps with this.
It gives them a chance to leave and come back as they please.
Helps With Employee Engagement
Based on our research and my own personal experience, personal growth and development is the number one reason for someone to become disengaged.
What happens is they plateau and become bored with work, so continuous learning helps keep personal growth (and engagement) high.
It Creates Continuous Learning
Most training programs that companies have set up are one-off events, usually done at the beginning of the onboarding process.
Microlearning makes it easier to create a culture of continuous learning.
It Makes Training Easy To Update
At the speed at which business and technology moves, you need to be able to keep your training as up to date as possible.
Imagine if you have an hour long training video, how are you going to update that?!
It Sets You Up For The Future
In the future, employee training will incorporate a lot of user-generated content.
Microlearning helps you get set up for that. These heavy training programs don’t lend themselves well to user-generated content.
The science of how we learn
The biggest benefit of microlearning is that employees will actually retain the information they’re learning.
In 1885, a German psychologist named Hermann Ebbinghaus conducted a study about memory called “Memory: A contribution to experimental psychology”.
What he found was pretty shocking to anyone involved in training and development:
The human brain needs time to process information before it’s put into long-term memory.
Because of how quickly we forget, it’s important to review the information you just learned within 24 hours of learning it. The research shows that if you do that you’ll be able to retain 80% of the information.
If you review again 48 hours later, that number goes up to 85%. If you review again 72 hours later, you’ll retain pretty much all of the information.
This is what’s known as spaced repetition learning, and is proven to be the best way to learn new information.
Anyone responsible for teaching employees new information should understand the way this works.
If you can incorporate that repetition into microlearning, you’ll have very knowledgable employees on your team.
The future of corporate learning
Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder of Bersin by Deloitte is by far my favorite expert on all things HR.
His team created this amazing SlideShare about corporate learning that I want to go through and highlight some key points.
- Career development and learning are almost 2x more important than compensation, benefits, and work environment
- When asked “how would you like to learn to lead,” more than 60% of Millennials said “I’d like a mentor.”
- Huge emergence in personalized, self-serve platforms for learning
- 70% of Millennials report receiving no leadership development at all
I had the opportunity to speak with the CEO of one of the leaders in this new market, Axonify:
Ways to incorporate microlearning
The key more than anything is to change your mindset.
You need to get everyone on the team comfortable with the fact that they should always be learning new things and you’re there to support them every step of the way.
Here are a few ways you can incorporate microlearning into your team.
TED videos are amazing. I try to watch one at least every two weeks, I learn so much from them, and I rewatch some of them many, many times. There are videos on tons of different subjects that will teach you something amazing and inspire you.
For a while, I wondered why Linkedin bought Lynda and what their angle was. Now, I think it makes a ton of sense. With thousands of business courses in short video tutorials, their microlearning platform is incredible.
Scientific American pioneered microlearning with their podcasts like “60-second Science” and “60-second Space” that explored interesting topics in short, digestible chunks.
Grovo is the best platform I’ve seen for microlearning. User-friendly, affordable, and tons of great resources.
Anyone that wants to get started with microlearning should give Grovo a serious look.
Share Knowledge At Work
Things like lunch and learns, mentor programs, knowledge sharing programs, internal conferences are all great ways to help spread knowledge and establish a culture that is continuously learning.
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