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Micro-training in the User Workspace Drives Faster Adoption

By Asif Rehmani
Updated February 8, 2024


Adding new systems and technology means you've got to get users up to speed as quickly as possible. Doing it for remote workers compounds this challenge. Benjamin Franklin once said “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. He is also credited with the saying, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”. Taking the two quotes together, you could conclude that investing in knowledge acquisition is a good thing, but the return on that investment depends on the way the knowledge is transferred.

Productivity can slow to a crawl while users are onboarded. Formal training sessions take them away from their desks, and aren't always successful at developing task competency. Not to mention the burden that IT help desks take on when users lean on them for task support. All this leads to poor adoption outcomes and wasted money and resources.

Nowhere is the pain of poor training more evident than during a new hire's onboarding process. New hires bring a risk that the training that you provide will be wasted if they leave shortly after being hired. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, “Nearly one in three newly hired employees leave the company voluntarily or involuntarily before the end of their first year. Companies typically have little opportunity to recoup their investment in new employees who leave”.

Training Challenge #1 - Knowledge Retention

More formal learning environments, such as instructor-led training classes, can provide in-depth information about a new system. But, according to various reports, most people forget 45 percent to 60 percent of information they receive within 24 to 48 hours. Would Ben Franklin say that was money well spent?

Attention spans have been shrinking at an alarming rate. In 1998, the average attention span was 12 minutes. By 2008, that span had decreased to 5 minutes. So even with immersive classroom training, memory retention becomes a problem from the moment they leave the training room.

Training Challenge #2 - Lack of Effective Training and Support

Currently, there is a lack of effective, self-contained training tools that drive task competency among end users. Traditional classroom training tools or a "Google it" approach doesn't quickly develop the necessary task competency levels that companies are looking for.

The primary reason traditional training fails is that employees need task help when they have a moment of need, not at a predetermined time. And, although search engines and wikis enable system users to find task information during a moment of need, they require workers to leave their work screen to find answers. This slows the learning/task competency process.

So, how do you overcome the challenge of onboarding and training employees on new systems?

Solution to Training Challenges

The answer to poor adoption outcomes can be found in performance support, a concept created by the e-learning industry. This contextual training model puts the learning tools for a new work task within the work setting in which users perform a task. The training content is accessed on demand, while the user is in the work environment.

On-demand, contextual performance support provided in the work environment enables users to apply learning at the moment of need, when and where they can immediately use it. Training delivered in this way helps new technology users perform better and build task competency faster.

Leading-edge workforce training experts agree that learning is more sustainable when a) it takes place in the work flow, or in context, b) is delivered in short bursts, and c) is always accessible. Additionally, tells us that two-thirds of information workers “believe that small snippets of information are easy to retain and make for more interesting learning”.

Contextualized learning has several advantages. First, it minimizes knowledge transfer distance. The learner doesn’t need to recall training from an hour, day, week, or month earlier. Consequently, they also don’t need to rely on as much training content as they would during a full training session. Training content can be created to be easily digestible and fit within the work environment.

Along with improving the training application process, there is a significant organizational benefit to contextual micro-training: scalability. Unlike classroom training, there are no limits to how many people can use the system for training purposes. In a world of distributed workforces, training content can be made available to everyone in the company in a cost-effective way.

Better Training Outcomes

A 2014 report titled Building Staff Engagement revealed that learning innovation through a performance support system (such as VisualSP solutions) results in a 23% improvement in the speed of a new system rollout, and a 12% reduction in time to proven competency.

Among the key performance indicators for learning that have been improved are:

  • Reduced time to competence for using new systems
  • Increase in productivity
  • Reduction in errors
  • Increased capability to deal efficiently with problems without escalation

By enabling workers to get training in micro-learning modules on demand and in context, a number of tangible emotional benefits may be experienced including:

  • Reduced frustration
  • Improved confidence
  • Better job loyalty

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