We live in a digitally connected world. With the proliferation of smartphones and digital communication, learners no longer connect with static paper manuals or outdated computer-based trainings (if they ever did!).

Furthermore, the generational shift occurring in workplaces exacerbates this digital shift. By 2025, millennials will comprise half of your workforce. These individuals operate on a 90 second attention span, change media types 27 times a non-working hour, and engage with mobile applications more often than with any other medium.

Man on cell phone

Digital transformation and a shifting generational makeup within your business demands adaptation. Educational research is paving the way in revolutionary learning theories that are proven to raise absorption rates of important material.

Your employees need corporate training designed for the 21st century to improve both their productivity and job satisfaction. If you’re not embracing this global transformation in learning and digitization, you’re probably not engaging your workforce.

A New Wave in Education

Previous shifts in the nature of work have usually been accompanied by additions in the amount of education required in the beginning of a career, at least in the United States. In the early 1900s, the “high school movement” turned secondary schools into a nationwide system for mass education that provided education for life. In 1910, just 9% of Americans earned a high-school diploma, while by 1935 over 40% did. The second wave occurred in the 1960s with the “college-for-all” movement, President Johnson’s “Higher Education Act,” and a slew of new community college campuses. Between 1970 and 2016, enrollment in higher education more than doubled from 8.5 million to 20.5 million students.

Now we are entering a third wave in education to meet the shifting demands of the workforce. However, instead of adding additional time to education early in life, it is believed that this third wave will be marked by continual training throughout a person’s lifetime for the purpose of:

  • Staying up-to-date in a career field updates
  • Learning how to complement rising levels of automation
  • Gaining skills for newly-created types of work
man helping woman with laptop

Existing workforce-training programs are not set up to adapt to this wave. Traditionally, they offer tedious training sessions that lack immediate relevance to the one-off courses with low absorption rates. The result is employees who are unprepared and disengaged.

Training from employers must occur more regularly and in shorter time frames to align with the shifting demands of the workforce.

Shifting Workforce Expectations

So where are you in the midst of this transformation? Your employees, who interact with hundreds of digital stimuli every day, are disinterested in long in-person training or hours of computer-based training. Your team forgets any insights you had hoped they would apply in the workplace. Your workforce is increasingly dominated by millennials, who are not only categorized by fleeting attention but also grand expectations.

Compared with their baby boomer predecessors, millennials are looking to get more out of their work, placing more importance on job-specific training, career advancement opportunities, and career development.

Why Should you Care?

Millennials, the majority of your workforce, also have a higher turnover rate than any other generation.

  • 49% of millennials would quit their jobs in the next 2 years, citing lack of career advancement and professional development opportunities.
  • The average cost of losing an employee with a $60,000 salary in the first year is $30,000-$45,000.
  • 70% of employees say that training and development opportunities strongly influence their decision to stay with the company.
empty office

Continual Learning

Changes in both how your team learns best and how they expects to learn are entering your workplace. Now more than ever, how your business approaches learning and development is critical to worker productivity and satisfaction.

Enter continual learning, enabled by advanced microlearning systems.

Championing the trend towards continual learning will be crucial to capturing your employees’ potential and enhancing your business results.

Why Continual Learning Matters

Let’s take safety information, for example. Safety and emergency procedures (hopefully!) aren’t something employees use in their day-to-day work. However, in the high-stakes situation where those critical pieces of knowledge are needed, your employees need to know what to do. If someone learns that information once then never revisits it, how do you know they’ll recall it when needed?

Take a look at the graph below, based on the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve. Knowledge retention slowly decreases over time. But note: with each successive repetition, the decrease in retention gets smaller.

And that’s why continual learning matters: through repetition, people gradually remember more and more until the information is memorized.

graph showing knowledge retention decreases over time

Image source: Schimanke, Mertens, and Vornberger

Integrating Continual Learning Into Microlearning

Microlearning is a method of learning via short, bite-sized modules, usually through digital mediums. Microlearning increases consumption rates and information retention as large chunks of complex data are broken down into manageable pieces of information. These modules are often delivered via mobile devices, with mobile accessibility allowing individuals to fit learning into the flow of their day.

By giving your employees the ability to access continual learning on their mobile devices, you can fulfill the expectations of your changing workforce while simultaneously benefitting your business. Employees can train as easily as they might hop on a social media platform in the few minutes that they enjoy their morning coffee.

Developing your workers’ skills through continual learning and microlearning has several advantages:

  1. Save time and money by avoiding ineffective in-person training, instead giving trainers and trainees time back to continue working on your business.
  2. Increase knowledge retention, which increases productivity in the field, improves customer satisfaction with a prepared team, and reduces costly mistakes.
  3. Elevate employee retention by engaging them with useful, easy-to-digest content.

Championing the trend towards continual learning will be crucial to capturing your employees’ potential and enhancing your business results.