Traditional workplace learning, where staff sit for hours attempting to focus on often complex training, is typically not a highlight for many employees. But is there a better way to engage staff, while ensuring that learning is effective?
It’s not an entirely new concept, but microlearning has rapidly grown in popularity in recent years, due in part to the mental fatigue brought about by excessive screen time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By focusing on short, clear and bite-sized chunks of content, microlearning reduces the amount of redundant information that employees need to digest. Microlearning provides actionable training that takes mere minutes to process, with strategies utilizing everything from video and text to interactive games and quizzes.
Workers of today, who check their smartphones up to 10 times an hour, simply don’t have the capacity to spend hours on training programs. According to RPS research, microlearning can improve focus and support long-term retention by up to 80 percent in comparison to conventional workplace learning solutions.
Without incorporating microlearning into the learning system of an organization, training course completion rates can only be expected to fall further and precious staff time will be misused.
By focusing on short, clear and bite-sized chunks of content, microlearning reduces the amount of redundant information that employees need to digest.
“Let’s be honest, would you want to go through hours of isolated course content if you don’t know when you can actually use what you are learning?” asks Petra Mayer, founder of Petra Mayer & Associates Consulting, a developer of engaging learning programs.
The flexible nature of microlearning is well-suited to staff with packed schedules, who want to pick up their mobile device at a time that works for them, no matter where they are.
For example, an engineer or IT worker who needs help servicing a new machine could massively benefit from access to a microlearning platform.
“At the time of service, you would want to be able to access a short video and supporting documentation that exactly answers the questions you have. You can provide your team members with the ability to access learning resources at their fingertips,” Mayer notes.
Technological advancements and software upgrades are adding to already significant pressures on businesses to develop a future-ready workforce. Research from the World Economic Forum estimates that half of all employees will need reskilling and upskilling by 2025.
A commitment to lifelong learning by companies is not enough without the right solutions in place to make learning opportunities available to all staff. For Karan Chhabra, External & Public Affairs Officer at digital education platform FutureLearn, microlearning can have a significant impact in various areas across a business.
For many businesses, microlearning content is not expected to completely replace conventional training, but rather augment the learning offering.
“For sales and customer service teams, microlearning can be used to continuously update product knowledge, ensuring that employees are well-informed about the latest offerings,” Chhabra says.
“It’s also an excellent tool for delivering compliance training, breaking down complex regulations into easily digestible pieces and ensuring employees understand and follow them,” he adds. Microlearning can also be a powerful way to train soft skills, such as communication, leadership and time management.
Instead of just pushing generic content to employees to watch, microlearning platforms are ideal spaces to unlock personalized learning. A survey published by Software Advice found that 58 percent of employees would be more likely to use online learning tools provided by their company if they were broken up into shorter lessons.
As staff engage with content, advanced education platforms can better understand both the interests of learners, as well as areas where their knowledge base may be relatively weak and offer content to address this.
Creating a seamless, accessible and effective microlearning platform library is unlikely to be an overnight task. While it may be cliche, each business will have its own set of learning needs and focus areas that should be considered before committing to a microlearning content strategy.
For many businesses, microlearning content is not expected to completely replace conventional training, but rather augment the learning offering. For some highly technical and complex training, different forms of learning may be a better fit.
For example, entering an entirely new business line, requiring an understanding of drastically different skills or products could initially require longer-form learning, aided after by microlearning to maintain staff knowledge.
When creating microlearning content, it goes without saying that short and relevant content should be the core aim.
Human resource leaders are not mind readers – they won’t be able to predict all areas where microlearning is needed, and exactly what content should be included in the short learning snippets. Including opportunities for learner feedback is essential in building out a comprehensive library of learning content.
“Knowing which resources are being used regularly can also inform your training plans for more structured training, growing the organization’s competencies over time,” Mayer says.
When creating microlearning content, it goes without saying that short and relevant content should be the core aim. Mimicking content that employees normally engage with daily on their smartphone can make the learning process more natural and user-friendly.
Perhaps most important of all for any microlearning strategy is to directly connect content to well-defined organizational goals. With so many potential business areas where microlearning can be applied, it can be easy for microlearning content libraries to become disjointed and overwhelming for users.
Structuring microlearning content towards specific learning objectives and audience interests can help bypass this issue, and leave learners to focus on what is most important for them.
Fostering a culture of continuous learning is possible with microlearning, with employees being empowered to learn where they want, when they want. The post-pandemic labor market continues to show talent shortages, with a survey published by ManpowerGroup finding that 77 percent of employers report difficulty in filling roles, a 17-year high.
Embracing microlearning will improve the learning experience for employees, better equipping them with the vital skills required in a constantly changing global business ecosystem.