There are great benefits to revamping training programs so that they include new ways of learning with technology combined with in-person training.
Today, people are not as good at concentrating as they used to be and micro-learning has proved to be a solution to this problem. Still, in-person, longer-format training is necessary for truly educating a person in a new subject. This will always be the case but doesn't mean that your company shouldn't be harnessing micro-learning techniques to use in conjunction with traditionally effective training strategies.
Training programs are lacking
Three-quarters of leaders said they were dissatisfied with their training programs.
Employee training programs are not as effective as they could be. A CEB study found that three-quarters of about 1,500 leaders said they were dissatisfied with their current training programs. In addition, only one in four reported that it was important for achieving key business outcomes.
This shows that training is just not matching up with company goals. So, what are training programs missing?
Shorter attention spans
Companies may be lacking in their efforts to redesign training to cater to people's shorter attention spans. Maybe long training sessions used to be more effective but today, attention spans are substantially shorter, in large part because of technology.
The effects of technology on the human brain cannot be underestimated. A Microsoft study found that people's attention spans have shortened from 12 seconds in 2000 to eight seconds in 2013, mostly due to being constantly bombarded with social media and other technology.
The millennial and Gen-Y generations grew up with entertainment on demand and the ability to switch to new and fun information at the click of a button, meaning these new generations will likely be even more easily distracted. In fact, a Gallup survey found that millennials are the least engaged generation in the workplace with 28.9 per cent engaged compared with 32.9 per cent of Gen X and Baby Boomers. The reason for this low engagement points in all likelihood to the problem of shorter attention spans due to technology.
These statistics have enormous implications for the future of training as well as business in general. In the report, Satya Nadella, the chief executive officer of Microsoft, said: "The true scarce commodity is increasingly human attention"
The need to rework training programs will become even more important as businesses start hiring younger generations even more distracted by social media. This new finding that people's attention spans are getting shorter as technology gets more advanced means that a serious change in employee training is in order.
The value of technologically based micro-learning
Companies should be re-designing their training programs with this in mind. A Wall Street Journal article recently proposed that short digital learning sessions are an ideal way to train easily distracted people.
Many employers are jumping on the e-learning waggon because it is proving to be incredibly effective. Companies like Uber Technologies Inc., Gap Inc. and Pernod Ricard SA are using micro-learning apps and websites to give employees mini-lessons during training.
These companies are finding that new, digital and more fast-paced training brings certain benefits that the old, lecture-style training programs can't. Calvin Ng, director of learning and development at Pernod Ricard USA said that "the way that people learn has shifted. Employees are not necessarily engaged by sitting down in a classroom and looking through hundreds of slides and being talked at, and time is a big concern, with regards to training."
Why is time a big concern when it comes to learning? The neuroscience behind it is that people have trouble retaining information if they're given it all at one time. The brain can better digest information given in little short bursts and in repeated intervals, according to Priya Rajasethupathy, a neuroscience postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University specialising in learning and memory.
The notion that people have better retention when given little chunks of information in intervals has been a long known fact but seems to be even more true today with shortening attention spans. For this reason, companies have started to consider micro-learning as a useful tactic in employee training.
The importance of in-person training
Although technology supports micro-learning and thus is a good tool for adapting to people's shorter attention spans, the value of in person, instructor-led and longer-format training courses should not be forgotten.
Rajasethupathy states that micro-learning is effective, but only up to a certain point. While micro-learning increases retention, it doesn't encourage critical thinking the way longer and in-person learning does. The daily routine of hours spent discussing and engaging with other people carries an emotional weight for students, which the Stanford scientist says is conducive to learning. Debating with other people and practising a skill over long hours allows people to emotionally engage with what they're learning and thus develop a deeper understanding.
On the subject of emotions, micro-learning through technology also doesn't prepare people well enough for actually taking action and handling the emotional challenges that come up in work. Andy Molinsky, a Professor of International Management and Organisational Behaviour at Brandeis University, told Harvard Business Review that it is important to give future employees a realistic preview of likely emotions that they will experience.Training is a way to emotionally prepare your employees and this is better communicated in-person than through technology.
In-person training allows trainees to learn by doing.
As the age-old saying goes, "you learn by doing." This is why Molinksy also advises putting employees in role-play situations. Again, this is something that technology can't provide. He states that in-person training also allows trainees to act as bystanders and watch an experienced employee perform a task with their own eyes. Then, employees should be given the opportunity to try out the task themselves.
To increase retention and offer deeper understanding and knowledge, a combination of technologically based micro-learning and in-person, long form training is the best option for companies today. It's a matter of achieving a delicate balance between the two different training methods.
Line Management Institute of Training offers qualifications that will get you a job in planning training programs and discovering the best employee development practises. Interested in learning more? Reach out to one of our reps today.
Published by: LMIT