Micro learning: Training that works for today’s workforce

Teleworking and diverse learning styles bring massive challenges in training employees. Is micro learning the solution for your company? 

Taylor Murphy

by Taylor Murphy

What does micro learning mean for a modern workforce? “Adequate” training – at its best. From generational differences to virtual vs. in-person learning preferences, companies face the challenge of adapting the way they train employees to our modern world while not losing participation in the process. So how do you ensure adequate training for a wide range of needs and attention spans? Today, one solution stands out: Micro learning. 

What is micro learning?

Micro learning is a form of social learning, which is designed to address multiple learning styles at once. Thanks to its accessibility, social learning offers an opportunity to create a culture devoted to safety and help employees engage in training and retain information. Social learning can create a collaborative learning environment, which helps employees teach and learn from each other. 

 You can leverage this type of training in many different ways. Some companies use internal platforms, like a ticketing system or messaging applications, to encourage employees to ask questions and raise concerns. One of the most popular forms is through micro learning sessions for group discussions that focus on a particular safety issue in a short amount of time.  

The idea is to infuse training into your workforce in small, easy-to-consume doses and to keep the conversation ongoing. 

The idea is to infuse training into your workforce in small, easy-to-consume doses.

Where does virtual training fall short?

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, workforces are increasingly remote or a hybrid of in-person and homeworking. Because companies still must administer all the required training regardless of whether workers are onsite, many have turned to online training as a solution. But virtual learning isn’t effective for everyone.  

Many companies have seen a clear difference in the effectiveness of this way of training across various worker groups. Some workers get more out of in-person, day-long training sessions than they do from a virtual setting, while others prefer virtual or short, succinct sessions. Sometimes it relates to age and experience – but not always.  

Micro learning means smaller time investment with bigger impact.

Well-known in the construction sector as “toolbox talks,” forms of micro learning have also made their way to other business types, even office settings.  

These mini training sessions serve as an effective compromise between lengthy in-person sessions and hard-to-follow virtual training. While some workers may not remain engaged during a 30-min (or longer) training lecture, they’re more likely to stay actively present in short 5–15-minute videos that directly communicate the main points.  

Another advantage of micro learning is how its short format allows for the use of real-work examples. For instance, one training session could be a short, internally recorded video of how to lock out a specific piece of equipment. As such, these shorter bursts of training are often more relevant for the employees receiving the training, who often more easily retain the information.

Micro learning today, continue meeting workers’ needs tomorrow.

Overall, you must provide training that will be effective for every employee, no matter their age, background, or learning style. But the parameters of what makes that training work for your workforce will continue to change. Today that might mean micro learning, tomorrow it could mean something else. To keep your training program successful, make sure it continually evolves in step with emerging risks and new awareness of workers’ needs. Expand your outlook beyond what’s required to include changing methods to find what truly connects with your employees. 

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