High Demand for Bite-sized Learning in the Modern Day Workplace


Disruptive change from new technologies has become the norm for today’s organizations.

Skills are becoming obsolete at an accelerating rate and the days of traditional, time-consuming reading of guide manuals and attending long, boring lectures in the classroom are coming to an end.

Today’s dynamic work environment requires employees to have access to new tools and learn new ways of performing their jobs more quickly.

Organizations are adopting online approaches to training. They want training to be meaningful, engaging, fun, and tied to employees’ work.

Continuous skill development is becoming a major component in today’s workplace. Organizations and employees — including members of CPHR BC & Yukon via the Association’s ever-growing  online offerings, such as webinars and PD On-Demand — already have access to free or low-cost learning applications that allow immediate access to continuous learning-on-demand through social media outlets such as YouTube and LinkedIn and other applications such as NovoEd, Coursera and Udacity.

Keeping Track of Training

Organizations need to develop learning management systems (LMS) that can serve the needs of transient workforces that are becoming increasingly responsible for their own development.

Employee skills are rapidly becoming outdated and require ongoing training and development. These days, it is not enough to learn one or two software programs; they have to become familiar with several programs to succeed.

As a result, today’s employees rely on online learning tools to keep up to date on changes in legislative compliance, marketing trends, technology and the economy.

Adopting new learning systems has become a rapidly growing segment in HR technology. Organizations see new learning systems as a means of not just bringing teams together, but as a means of bringing people from sales, marketing, finance, human resources and IT onto cross-functional teams to develop products and find solutions faster.

It’s Fun, Safe and Unstructured

In some organizations, chief learning officers (CLOs) play a major role in the organization’s growth by responding to changes in customer demands, competition, legislative compliance and workforce demands. CLOs organize effective training strategies and develop new training paths to enable the organization to compete effectively.

Organizations are leaning to non-traditional E-learning that is unstructured and not classroom based — in an environment that is fun and safe for learning to take place.

But fun does not rest in fun activities alone. Fun work environments enable individuals to try new things without the fear of mistakes, thereby increasing engagement and accelerating learning processes.

Studies have shown that as much as 70 per cent of new information if forgotten with one week under traditional forms of learning. They further point that with newer non-traditional forms of learning in which individuals learn by doing, retention rates increase significantly.

A Tale of Two Systems

The limits of traditional learning are known and increasingly recognized as being too restrictive, too slow for some, too fast for others and too costly given the varying results.

By comparison, E-learning makes training programs fun, easy and profitable, with a solid focus on engagement, interactivity and continuous assessment of learner performance. Allowing bet-ter use of time, it also transforms learning into a personal pursuit for performance excellence.

“Most workshops and training events are mentally exhausting, causing employees to tune out and retain a fraction of the learning,” says Sandra McDowell, CPHR, executive, speaker, author and founder of eLeadership Academy. “In contrast, online learning provides a variety of ways for students to engage and offers the benefits of interactive features like discussion forums, webinars, and practical experience, along with more traditional assignments, self-assessments, and personal reflection work.”

“According to the Neuroscience Institute, optimizing conditions for the brain includes keeping the material interesting (attention), spacing the learning over time by providing it in bite-sized pieces (micro-learning), and the opportunity to apply the concepts throughout the learning (application),” McDowell adds.

However, before choosing which form of learning is right for you and/or your employees, one must consider that traditional learning still has a place for many. 

“CPHR BC & Yukon caters our professional development to all types of learners,” says Neha Mohan, manager, professional development. “Whether you are an auditory, kinesthetic or visual learner, we allow a variety of ways an HR professional can heighten their professional development.”

She also pointed out that many would argue traditional learning events, such as symposiums, in fact are more interactive, and you can get live results because of the face-to-face interaction at the event — they’re more personable, and no one needs to worry about their laptop’s power  or wifi not being strong enough.

Micro-learning and Limits in Real-time

Organizations are moving slowly towards micro-learning, also known as real-time learning. In micro-learning, training is delivered in short focused bites that include tutorials, tasks, short simulations, and quizzes that take only a few minutes to complete. Micro-learning allows access to bite-sized learning material whenever and wherever employees need it.

Jennifer Gerves-Keen, master corporate executive coach and principal JGK Consulting, says, “The ‘how-to’ type of skills are great for real-time learning—specific skill sets, often technical, that are enhanced by short videos showing people how to do specific tasks. Behavioural change and things like leadership skills would be more challenging as much of the information would be open to individual interpretation and consistency/quality would be challenging to ensure.”

The ways in which we work are constantly changing. To survive in today’s knowledge intensive world, organizations must develop new ways for their employees to acquire knowledge and skills.



Lindsay Macintosh, CPHR has over 20 years experience in payroll and benefits in the retail, food service and logging industries.

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