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How employee learning is changing in the digital workplace…

31st July 2015

Most businesses recognise the importance and benefits of employee learning. And so companies invest, often-significantly, in ‘learning initiatives’ in order to empower employees to apply new knowledge and skills to their work, hoping to create highly engaged and productive employees.

Traditional ways of learning

Most companies are still providing very traditional learning programs, such as ‘lecture like’ e-learning courses or in-person training courses, where employees simply get credit and recognition for completion. The problem with this form of learning is that it tends to be quite passive, and the learning may not always be relevant or deemed valuable by the employee at that point in time, and so likely that they won’t apply their new knowledge or skills immediately, resulting in employees not being actively engaged.

Social learning

If you really think about how you learn within your organisation, you’ll soon realise that you learn best in less structured, informal ways. Bumping into colleagues and picking their brain, learning from others when working on group projects, or if you’re lucky enough, having a mentor or two who shares their knowledge and experience with you.
Learning in this social way works best because predominantly you will be learning things that you need to apply straight away, meaning you are highly engaged in the learning process. So instead of learning in a passive manner you are in control and actively seeking out what it is you want and need to learn – you are involved in the learning, and this always brings about the best results.

Social collaboration technology

Social collaboration technology is what organisations can use to help fuel employee’s social learning, and is therefore where organisations should be looking to invest.
In very simple terms, social collaboration technologies can become the central component of the workplace, from which everyone can find and share knowledge, ideas, and best practice, with everyone learning from each other. It gives employees the ability to constantly fine-tune their learning to their ever-evolving needs – whether for personal development, to improve performance in their current role, or to ensure they are equipped to meet any future changes to their situation.
Employees are therefore not at the mercy of the organisation and what it is the organisation wants employees to learn. It is instead very much self initiated learning. Although of course, organisations can and should contribute to the central component (Social collaboration technology), and so it can become a powerful tool for internal communication and HR pro’s too.

Culture of continual social learning

Social media, in many companies, has struggled to gain widespread adoption. This has happened not because employees don’t know how to use the tools, but mainly because employees don’t truly understand the benefits of using them.
Maybe we are now seeing the evolution of social media at work, with it becoming social learning. Employees will certainly know the purpose and benefits of using the technology – learning, and so there is clear reason for employee adoption. Organisations will still need to foster a culture of social and continual learning, one that encourages employees to make full use of the social tool for learning, development and improved performance.


Collaboration was a key trend we identified in our ‘What 2015 holds for Internal Communications‘ guide, and so we strongly believe the use of social collaboration technology for social learning is what the best performing organisations are, and will be doing. And internal communicators within organisations will play a crucial role in it’s success.
Until next time…


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