Education Technology: the potential impact of MicroLearning in Corporate Training in Brazil.
When you ask a Commercial Director of a large company in Brazil to tell you what their main obstacle is to obtain sales results, they will overwhelmingly give you the same answer: corporate training.
Today, Brazil has approximately 12M active customer service and direct sales representatives. This bottom-of-the-pyramid workforce typically comes from the B-, C and D social classes, has little formal education and low skill levels, lives in the suburbs and has long commutes to get to work. Their salaries are a little above the local minimum wage and, as such, they tend to switch jobs frequently for even a small pay raise.
Nonetheless, large companies in Brazil have an increasing need for these types of representatives — and while outsourcing seemed to have been the solution a decade ago — much of the problems they had then are the same today: employees have few skills, traditional training has become ineffective and non-scalable, onboarding is slow and turnover is high.
The Problem of Traditional Training
Traditional training, i.e. day-long PowerPoint training sessions, is still the predominant way companies train their employees today. This type of training is typically long, out-of-context, and disconnected from on-the job performance. Employees tend to find it boring and tedious. And as companies continue to fail to provide the bottom-of-the pyramid workforce with a clear career path and professional development: onboarding, training new hires and promoted employees will remain slow and turnover will remain high.
There is a growing consensus today that traditional training for the bottom-of-the-pyramid workforce is ineffective, unengaging and costly. Just increasing what your workforce knows — watching a lecture, a long video, reading a presentation, check a box — no longer works. Long, boring content gets ignored: 90% of traditional training is forgotten within one year, because training isn’t designed for the way employees actually live and work today.
Faced with the need to fundamentally reinvent themselves in order to retain, train and develop their workforce to maintain competitiveness, companies are increasingly turning to an innovative new way to solve their corporate training problems: MicroLearning.
What is MicroLearning?
MicroLearning is the process of building successful behaviors through small, focused steps. The human’s brain’s short-term memory can only hold roughly seven pieces of information at any time. Our brains forget a lot and quickly. According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, learning in bite-sized pieces makes the transfer of learning 17% more efficient. Because bite-sized courses are more focused, learners don’t have to clutter their memories with irrelevant information. This makes retention easier. The human brain is not wired to maintain focus for hours on end. It learns better when the content is delivered in short bursts with the courses well-spaced out to help cement the learning. Repetition also aids retention. Microlearning is well-suited to this online digital delivery format. A blend of short videos, quick quizzes, and real business examples for immediate applicability, arranged in a customized learning path, allows people to continually develop the skills and habits they need to succeed.
Increasing Employee Engagement
Although MicroLearning has been used a while by education companies who sell “How To” courses to the final consumer, companies like Grovo (www.grovo.com) in the United States and Tyngu (www.tyngu.com.br) in Latin America are using MicroLearning to transform the professional training experience, especially for large bottom-of-the-pyramid workforces. They recognize that for workplace learning to truly change employee behavior, it needs to occur in the right way, at the right time.
Employee engagement is essential: effective training is not just about increasing what people know, but transforming what they do. By solving the challenge of how and when employees learn best, companies can focus on what they need to learn most.
According to a report by Software Advice, more than 50% of the 385 employees who took part in a survey indicated that they would use their company’s learning tools more if the courses are shorter.
Learner satisfaction, and resulting employee engagement, of course, translates into better trained employees who drive business results. When bite-sized learning content is easily and readily accessible, employees can take it at their own pace, wherever they are, and most importantly, when they are “ready.” According to them, longer courses are not only more challenging to digest and retain but taking them also gets in the way of their daily work.
The advantage of MicroLearning is that it is extremely scalable. Because the individual components (videos, quizzes, gaming, examples) are short, they can be re-arranged quickly into a learning path to fit a certain demand without having to constantly reproduce content. So different departments or functions can have different learning paths with content arranged as needed.
Another problem that MicroLearning solves for companies is onboarding — with traditional training you have to fill a room in order for it to be cost-efficient, meaning that training only occurs at certain intervals and not always exactly when a new employee starts — resulting in employees being either idle or working without training until the next training session. With MicroLearning, training can start immediately, anytime and anywhere, and each user can learn at their own pace. MicroLearning slashes onboarding times by up to 60%, resulting in faster time to peak productivity for employees.
MicroLearning also allows companies to build a career path into the learning path, allowing employees to attain promotions and pay raises through acquired skills, and employees gain a keen sense that training is the path to rising in the organization. A customized learning path promotes higher employee engagement and gets them to learn fast and frequently by tying training into their career path. By providing a career path, turnover is reduced: the lack of a career path is one of the main reasons employees switch jobs for small pay raises. Additionally, Microlearning platforms give companies a keen insight on how their employees are learning, enabling them to track key KPIs that can be used for career planning and reviews.
And lastly, according to learning architect Ray Jimenez, MicroLearning can typically cost 50% less than traditional training and take 300% less time to develop and produce. There’s no need to pay for the instructor’s time, buy or rent physical classrooms and pay for the utilities, and spend money on classroom equipment. It is faster and easier to update digital information than reprint training manuals and conduct supplementary classroom training sessions and less time-consuming to roll out MicroLearning courses because they are modular in nature. What company doesn’t want to save time and money? The fact is that MicroLearning can be used in any company, sector and industry that has to manage large bottom-of-the-pyramid workforces to escalate quick business results.