Why Now Is The Time For More Organizations To Leverage Social Learning

Why Now Is The Time For More Organizations To Leverage Social Learning
Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock
Summary: Social learning is an interactive experience with hands-on activities that increase learners’ interest and engagement. Such collaborative learning experiences can form a strong base for L&D programs.

Why Social Learning?

If there’s something the past two years have taught us, it is that traditional training and skill-building programs are no longer enough. Ensuring that employee learning continues unabated even amidst uncertainties hasn’t been easy for organizations, but L&D teams have risen to the occasion by taking steps to develop resources and programs that have made learning and development an enjoyable, functional part of employees’ roles. As virtual and hybrid working is likely the norm for the foreseeable future, collaborative social experiences that form the basis of learning initiatives can certainly yield strong returns for businesses.

An Overview

It’s a known fact that some of the most powerful learning happens outside formal training sessions. A major portion of what employees learn in the workplace is picked up through interactions with peers, observations, and informal discussions.

In fact, in a host of professional onboarding and training programs, new hires are often asked to "shadow" others in their role. Why is this so? This is because new employees can pick up the ropes of the business from the interactions they have with their colleagues. Suffice to say, social learning is an immensely impactful form of learning. However, while many organizations use different forms of social learning for onboarding, they miss out on taking those same strategies and deploying them in other, broader, organization-wide training programs.

Why Social Learning Needs Wider Adoption

Most organizations believe that social learning is a little more complex because it requires employees to interact with one another with the intent to learn, which can be difficult to manage. However, this is a huge lost opportunity! As skills become obsolete rapidly, organizations need to leverage effective techniques to enhance their employees’ capabilities. Given that advanced technology is so prevalent now, it is easier than ever to include social learning in your L&D strategy. With modern digital tools like social software, multimedia, and other technology, employees can easily interact with teams within different departments of the organization, satiating their curiosity and their learning needs. Social learning can take myriad forms, including peer chats, forums and networks, team collaboration, self-paced learning, communities, and blogs.

How Social Learning Can Benefit Organizations

There are many benefits that social learning offers to organizations:

1. Creates A Culture Of Continuous Learning

At a time when it’s imperative to invest in continuous learning opportunities for employees to boost talent retention, social learning is a great pathway to create an organization-wide learning culture. Interacting with peers and colleagues on a regular basis and learning from them becomes an ongoing process that helps employees progress their careers in more ways. Besides, these virtual platforms can be ways to ask others for help, discuss shared issues and/or topics, and have a resource that is available all the time. Overall, social learning goes a long way in supporting employees’ personal as well as professional development, leading to organizational growth.

2. Increases Engagement

The main reason why learners tend to find traditional learning sessions boring is that they often feature one-way communication. On the other hand, social learning is interactive and includes activities that keep learners engaged by spiking their interest levels. Interacting in social groups to share experiences appeals to most learners, which makes social learning great for imparting knowledge. Once the learning is enjoyable, it naturally increases engagement.

3. Brings Collaboration

Since social learning requires employees to reach out to each other and connect over common issues, a collaborative environment in the workplace becomes the natural outcome. Employees develop the habit of supporting each other and standing by each other when the need arises. Such a collaborative setting helps build virtual communities that encourage learners to contribute to idea forums and curate new knowledge, and in turn, this builds a knowledge center that acts as a library of ideas that can be utilized for years to come.

4. Enhances Productivity

The main goal of all L&D programs is to increase the overall productivity of the business. With social learning, as employees start interacting and networking with their peers on forums, there is a smooth flow of ideas and knowledge sharing. Learning is an instant, easy activity that is as simple as getting a question answered on a forum or searching a repository for SME-contributed content. Learners can manage their own upskilling without any disruption in their daily workflow.

Parting Thoughts

If you haven’t already included social learning in your L&D strategy, now is the best time to do so. One effective way is to opt for an LMS that allows creating communities, discussion boards, micro-blogging, and much more. Developing a robust L&D program that is based on social learning is key to staying ahead in a challenging business landscape.