Micro-bites – Shorter learning curve for lasting impact
Using the principles of adult learning theory in today’s fast-paced, multi-priority work environments, shorter learning opportunities can have a lasting impact on skills development and retention. talents.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed several fundamental professional expectations over the past two and a half years. A growing number of workplaces are offering remote opportunities and more virtual training options. Even large-scale conferences are now being offered with online participation as the main delivery format.
At a time when we feel constantly connected to information and updates via technology, expect instant gratification at the click of a button, and have an ever-increasing workload to juggle personal responsibilities, it’s easy to understand why so many people are feeling the effects of information overload in addition to what some call virtual fatigue.
For talent management professionals, adapting to this new reality and being aware of the balance between too much and not enough training and development opportunities for employees is a delicate balance. We must strive to maintain employee engagement through retraining and development, but we must also respect not only where, when and how we deliver training, but also consider the duration of training to ensure efficiency and optimal retention for the application.
Microlearning can address the need for continuous skill development with shorter learning periods without overwhelming employees who are already feeling fatigued by information and technology overload.
I first saw the impacts of smaller learning solutions when I worked for a small college that had limited resources, time constraints due to variable faculty and staff schedules, and a resource department. human resources managing a workforce that was unaccustomed to dedicated L&D outreach. After a lunchtime discussion on using our new HRIS one afternoon, I spoke with an employee who looked uncomfortable and distracted throughout the session. When we chatted 1:1, they admitted they felt overwhelmed by the amount of information they were tasked with learning about the new system, new processes, changes to their day-to-day role and responsibility. train their direct reports. During our conversation, it became clear that the employee wanted to learn the information, but needed to break the learning down into much smaller chunks to retain it and apply it to the job.
Instead of just focusing on more traditional training sessions that lasted an hour or more, in addition to the required regular sessions with broader information, I also started offering voluntary 10-20 minute sessions highlighting specific skills within the HRIS. on different days of the week, letting employees choose where they wanted or needed to focus on particular skills, letting them decide whether to attend.
One day I hosted a session on creating a job application, the next day I went over editing a timesheet for an employee, and another day I focused only on leave approval in the new system. During these brief training sessions, we focused only on the subject at hand, keeping the sessions succinct and direct without cutting into other topics around the HRIS, with the possibility for the employee to schedule additional follow-up if necessary.
I’ve also created take-home job aids with step-by-step instructions and practical scenarios for getting a real-time application in a test environment. The shorter sessions focused on one topic at a time made it easier for many employees to absorb, retain, and apply information without feeling bombarded with larger learning applications all happening at once.
Through the micro-bite approach, I addressed the core concepts of adult learning theory – meeting the learner where they are ready to learn, providing practical skills versus general knowledge and provide many concrete examples of application. The micro bites were relevant, interesting, unique and designed to improve productivity and work efficiency.
I realized that we could offer this type of micro-learning for the development of other skills, in addition to those learning sessions which inherently tend to tend towards a need for longer sessions or more in-depth training covering a broader intersectionality of topics.
A few days a week, I began to set up shop in the campus dining hall to provide real-time demonstrations of smaller skill development, such as creating and using pivot tables in Excel to manage data; add videos and animations to presentations; tips for active listening; compliance awareness highlights and more. Employees could stop by the table during lunch hours (before or after eating) and get a quick glimpse of a new skill that might seem like second nature to some of us, but for many employees they had never used these skills before and were not sure how to apply them day to day.
I would offer training tips of the week from HR offices at designated times (in person and remotely), guiding employees through new skills that could be condensed into a five to 15 minute learning opportunity minutes, then they could go straight back to their normal work duties.
One employee told me that he used to avoid training sessions because he feared his work would pile up while he was away from his desk for more than a few minutes and he back to multiple voicemails and a cluttered inbox. Another employee told me that he struggled to retain information during longer training sessions and was frustrating to attend, but the shorter skills sessions made them excited. to learn new things because they now felt like they remembered the information and could apply it more easily.
If you have a learning management system or other technology that can provide microscopic learning, I encourage you to start offering short videos or open sessions where employees can break learning down into periods. shorter ones, in addition to your regular development offerings. If there is a common gathering area, spend time, even one day a week to start, where employees know you will be seated at a specific location at a specific time and they can drop by to learn a new skill .
If you work remotely, consider adding a weekly “Skill of the Week” series that will be sent via email or at the start of a team meeting. Make it memorable and fun – maybe you offer a prize for a collection of skills within a certain time frame, or maybe you have a way to gamify skill development to engage employees more.
There will always be a need for longer training sessions, but by incorporating micro-bite learning, you can effectively meet the needs of your workforce by providing more skill development throughout the course. year and perhaps see higher rates of participation and engagement with the information.