From everything we read these days in the learning and development (L&D) field, we know that the dynamics of the modern workplace are changing. Development is increasingly considered to be as important if not more important than compensation, particularly by millennials, according to Gallup. With the rapid pace of change — in team size and structure and in workplace technology — learning needs to be scalable and efficient.
A microlearning strategy can be crucial for your organization’s success. Microlearning is not a new idea; it is a natural extension of the way we all soak up new information every day. We are always learning — task by task, day by day. Those long training sessions filled with endless PowerPoint decks are not well-suited to empower most employees or to help them retain information.
Microlearning is, by definition, a single concept, meaning it should focus on an individual idea to influence employee behavior and goals. It is multimodal and should use mixed media, including video, high-impact design, auditory snippets, job aids and quizzes. Lastly, it should take place in the regular workflow of the learner, so it is more relevant and applicable right away.
In today’s competitive talent economy, companies need solutions that will stimulate impact and promote curiosity and engagement. A microlearning strategy is the catalyst companies need to develop their employees as people, not just as contributors to the company. It’s built to drive connections between learning initiatives and business priorities. Through three simple steps, your company can target critical skill sets and mindsets that employees need to be successful and in turn, create a more efficient workforce.
First, Start Small
Think about one crucial pain point that’s been a burden on your team’s communication and functionality. There are probably plenty of behaviors you could name that hurt your company’s goals. Focus on a specific set of employee behaviors that will ultimately support your company’s business goals. They are where you can craft your strategy.
An exercise that can help you avoid thinking too broadly is the “Five Whys.” This Lean management exercise is simple: Start with your first problem statement, and continue to ask “why” to go beyond the surface level. You likely won’t even need all five “whys,” but the persistent questioning will lead you to the root cause of the problematic behavior you’re trying to solve.
Second, Stay Focused
Many learning initiatives fail because their scope is too large. Identify competing priorities from the beginning: What has the potential to distract attention from your strategy? Spreading your goals too thin can weaken your impact later. Repeating why the training is the way it is and knowing what competing solutions could materialize will help your team, as well as senior leadership, stay focused.
Third, Make It Stick
Building a strategy is one thing. Successfully deploying it is another. Skills that employees immediately apply to a real work scenario have a better chance at sticking. The behavior you’re trying to change or the skills you’re trying to build through this microlearning strategy will be more successful if employees can immediately transfer the learning.
Fostering a culture of continuous learning at your organization is a key component of your strategy as well. Are training programs communicated properly, and do managers understand what follow-ups you expect of them? Employees expect to receive meaningful learning opportunities, which is your chance to drive home the connection between a learning initiative and daily work. Employees who feel their development is a priority are engaged and are more likely to stay at a company, according to LinkedIn’s 2018 “Workplace Learning Trends” report.
With these elements as a foundation, you can move to move strategic applications of the term “microlearning.” Consider how you might employ a microlearning strategy to accomplish your unique business goals. For example, let’s say a major driver for your business is empowering individual contributors to influence and lead teams without authority. Resist the urge to over-architect, and start small: What individual concepts are associated with that task? How might you build a program that highlights those single concepts, reinforces them through mixed media and delivers them as part of a typical working day? Suddenly, microlearning evolves from a type of content to a powerful organizational strategy.
There will always be a place for instructor-led training, peer learning, and blended or even ﬂipped classroom models. But a microlearning strategy is uniquely effective in empowering the L&D practitioner with a ﬂexible and agile approach to help employees thrive in the modern workplace.