Five Ways Microlearning Boosts Productivity

You’re right in the middle of a big project at work, something you need to get done today, but — oh no — you can feel yourself getting hungry. You can’t work like this. You need to eat. So what do you do: get a snack, or go out for a long lunch with co-workers?

Of course you get the snack. If you went out for the long lunch, your project wouldn’t get done. Also, the interruption would interfere with the flow of the work you were doing. After you return from lunch, you’d have to get back into the project all over again, which would take time.

Sometimes you work better if you get exactly what you need when you need it. It’s true of food, and it’s also true of learning. Much like a snack that helps to fuel the rest of your workday, bite-sized learning modules delivered in a variety of formats – like short videos, quizzes, graphics, and job aids – can give learners the information they need, whenever they need it. Done well, microlearning is an effective way to boost learners’ retention by getting new information into their hands quickly and can improve productivity.

Here are five ways that microlearning can boost productivity in the workplace:

  1. Microlearning reduces workflow disruptions
    According to Gloria Mark, a researcher who studies interruption, it takes most workers 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to work after an interruption takes them off-task. By giving busy learners access to the materials they need to complete timely tasks, microlearning can increase productivity,. Instead of having employees take hours out of their day to complete a course, microlearning integrates the most relevant learning experiences into the flow of work.
  2. Microlearning improves employee morale
    Giving learners the access to the resources they need, whenever they need it, fosters a culture of continuous learning, which can make learners feel more supported and empowered to conquer the tasks that make them feel more accomplished and satisfied with their work.
  3. Microlearning improves learning retention
    We learn best when we’re presented with relevant lessons that we can practice and apply within the appropriate learning context and repeated exposure to those lessons can lead to better understanding and retention. Microlearning is especially useful for reminding employees of critical information that relates to their jobs. After a cyberattack, for instance, a course on phishing or malware can be a powerful reminder to employees about what to watch out for and help protect your organization from a costly information security breach.
  4. Microlearning is quicker and easier to implement than long-form training content
    It takes a long time and a lot of planning to build a full-length course. But what if you only want to convey one new skill or piece of information to employees? If a policy has changed, for example, and your employees need to learn about the new information immediately, you can simply create a video or a brief module about that skill rather than developing a brand new full-length course to address these changes.
  5. Microlearning is familiar to employees
    A survey by Software Advice found that learners were 58% more likely to use their company’s LMS if it included microlearning modules. This is probably the biggest benefit of microlearning: learners are happy to participate. Most are already accustomed to microlearning in their personal lives. If they don’t know how to do something, they’re likely to Google it, search TikTok, or watch a two-minute tutorial on YouTube. It makes sense then, that your learners would also expect this kind of instant access to information at their workplace. By incorporating microlearning into workplace training programs, organizations can present learning in a format that employees are already comfortable with and keep them engaged in learning, rather than searching for answers externally.

The long and short of it (pun intended) is that we live in an attention-limited culture, where focusing on one thing (or one screen) for even a couple of minutes can be considered an accomplishment. In our multi-screen, multi-tasking culture, L&D pros need to work within a new set of parameters that can accommodate learners in an increasingly fast-paced, distraction-filled world. The goal doesn’t change: we want learners to learn. We’re just changing how we get there.