Business owners often try to manage their time by focusing their energy on revenues rather than areas with no immediate outcomes. One such area is learning and development, which is often perceived as time-consuming and costly.
Without training, however, employees’ knowledge becomes obsolete, and the company loses its competitive edge. Luckily, technology enables learning methodologies that require little investment in terms of time and money. Microlearning is one such strategy. Comprised of bite-sized, concentrated lessons that target specific outcomes and cater to specific employee needs, microlearning has several benefits. Here are a few.
Improved Information Processing
While the average attention span has dropped, multitasking has increased. Employees raised in the digital age process information more efficiently and prefer small doses of information. There’s no need for employees to memorize excessive volumes of information, because they can return to it whenever necessary. A short module that is available for multiple reviews is more effective than a long video that takes 15 minutes just to get to the point.
Incorporating an interactive demo in a training module enables employees to immediately apply what they’ve learned. Instead of simply reading a piece of content or watching a video, an interactive demo with drag-and-drop and click-through tools allows employees to put their newly acquired knowledge into practice.
Saved Time and Money
Microlearning enables employees to find the right time to study a module. This study time may take place during the work day, but if employees feel more comfortable completing a lesson at home, there’s nothing stopping them. It’s their choice.
Microlearning can cut training costs a great deal as well. For example, it eliminates the costs of course manuals for traditional classes. No longer will training departments use outdated printed material; they can update individual modules online. As business needs and strategies change, the modular configuration of microlearning enables fast and simple changes.
A library of modules covering a variety of topics can be extremely valuable for those times when an unexpected vacancy occurs and the previous employee isn’t available to train their replacement. If the training organization has prepared modules for each business function, the new employee will at least have access to some materials to help them begin their own training, mitigating the stress of a sudden vacancy.
Providing access to required modules and a deadline to complete them allows employees to have more control over how and when they learn. They are more likely to absorb bite-sized chunks of the information you want them to have – and return to it when needed.
With traditional training strategies, employees are burdened with an excessive volume of materials delivered weeks before they will use them. In these circumstances, learners acquire knowledge out of context and often forget it before they have the chance to apply it.
Microlearning enables immediate reinforcement of new knowledge and skills that align with specific position requirements, making individual employees more vested and focused on internalizing what they learn.
When employees feel that their company is making an effort to empower them, they’ll respond in kind. Forcing employees to attend a training seminar when they feel that it’s more important to stay on the job creates a negative experience.
Microlearning fights learner disengagement by using easy-to-comprehend elements like bullet points, games, quizzes and graphics. This new style of teaching caters to people’s short attention spans and busy schedules. Without adjusting to the new, information-rich digital world, your company will be left in the dust.
The Bottom Line
The days of scheduling employees for hours away from the office for a training course are gone. Companies that aren’t prepared to make the transition to microlearning as a training strategy are likely to lose their competitive edge, experience an increase in their skills gap and suffer from employee disengagement.
On the other hand, creating an online microlearning library of existing courses and developing new ones will create interest in the company and increase employee engagement. There’s no successful branding without happy and committed employees, so microlearning not only supports training and development but the company’s bottom line as well.
Natalie Smith, a freelance writer from Seattle, covers topics related to marketing, customer service, corporate culture and education.