The term “corporate university” is used in a variety of ways, often to refer to the traditional, in-house learning programs utilized by corporations. But at its core, a corporate university is simply the strategic tool a business designs to create a space for employees to learn in concurrence with the company’s vision and goals.
The implementation of corporate universities began more than six decades ago with companies like General Electric, Motorola, McDonald’s, and Disney laying the groundwork for what corporate education would look like for years to come.
However, in the digital age, the way that individuals have grown accustomed to sourcing information has drastically changed. Finding immediate answers through a quick Google search has created an instant gratification mindset for the majority of the population. Couple this mentality with the fact that more than a third of American workers are millennials, and the need for corporate universities to update their models becomes more crucial than ever.
This leads us to ask: How do we adapt our corporate training models to train a labor force whose attention is pulled in so many directions — all while making the experience pleasant and impactful?
The answer: microlearning.
Defined as a way of teaching and distributing content in short bursts — roughly 5-10 minutes per segment — microlearning prioritizes the most important information in a way that is easy to consume and retain. This digital training approach promotes comprehension of the material, implementation of coursework in daily operating procedures, and clear retention of the specified information. While lecture-style courses and training video marathons may have been effective in the past, microlearning has proven to produce quick results. In the world of Google, trainees prefer a more hands-on approach to learning wherein information is easily and quickly accessed as needed.
For trainees, microlearning is capable of catering to a variety of learning styles, ultimately creating an enjoyable experience regardless of an employee’s preferred mode of education. Employees are empowered through this training model, as it gives trainees the ability to learn at their own pace. In turn, the information retention rate is generally higher, since employees are able to receive training videos on demand precisely when they are in need of new information. In today’s convenience-oriented world, this aspect of microlearning truly sets the model apart from other teaching strategies.
The concept of instant gratification is utilized as well, since microlearning allows trainees to immediately put into practice what they have learned. Training sessions are broken up into smaller sections to encourage participation, conversation, and a healthy work/life balance — which the workforce increasingly values.
The ROI is undeniable when a business applies microlearning to its programs. For example, in a recent implementation by business process outsourcing provider Alorica, microlearning enabled employees servicing a major retail pharmacy provider to retain 20 percent more information by increasing both participation and conversation throughout the process.
In comparison to in-person training courses, microlearning is extremely cost-effective. Based on Alorica’s research, it can result in a 50 percent reduction of development expenses. Lastly, Alorica employees have demonstrated more than 60 percent improvement in performance after retraining on job functionalities via microlearning.
Is your company program ready to graduate from corporate universities to microlearning? In the ever-evolving digital era, it’s important to recalibrate training methods and policies to meet the needs of the current workforce. When employees are trained properly and successfully, customer retention, customer satisfaction, and the company’s bottom line all get a boost.
Irene Tan is a learning and development senior director at Alorica.