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What's Your Most Effective Style of Workplace Learning?

Jason Arnold

January 3, 2020

What’s your 2020 vision to attract, develop, engage, and retain your talent this year?

2019 was a big year for workplace learning, but now it’s time to look forward and take your organization’s talent to the next level. And there is no better path to leading and engaging your talent than with a viable 2020 learning plan.

For organizations to keep up in today’s fast-paced world, learning initiatives must be the foundation of their talent development strategy. Learning and development programs keep individuals growing and organizations performing at their best. Employees are more engaged when they’re encouraged to learn and grow, not just perform. And companies are more competitive when talent stays ahead of the innovation curve and has room for consistent growth. Learning and development plans not only engage current employees, they’re a critical factor in attracting them as well. 42% of employees say learning and development is the most important benefit when deciding where to work.

Have you thought about your #WorkplaceLearning goals for the new year? @InspireSoftware breaks down the 5 methods of learning, and how each might fit into your #EmployeeDevelopment plan:Tweet This!

However, simply offering the opportunity for workplace learning doesn’t go far enough in ensuring that learning is happening continually and effectively in your organization. Training and development can come in many forms, and one size never fits all. You must understand the modes of learning that are available to you today, how they apply the learning to a given context or role, and which is the best to develop the knowledge and skills your training.

The 5 Main Workplace Learning Styles

Micro Learning

Micro Learning utilizes brief learning units and short-term activities, and is typically managed in an autonomous, self-paced delivery. It’s a holistic, skill-based approach to workplace learning, meaning it involves focused strategies designed for specific skills training based around a need within a certain job function or role. The content is usually delivered in units that can be started and finished in several minutes, and is most useful when an individual needs to learn a new skill in the flow of their work, or needs to be able to spread out their learning into manageable blocks of time in the quest for a certification or broader skill-set.

Macro Learning

Macro Learning is used when the subject matter is a larger, more theoretical concept. Macro Learning takes a few hours or may span a couple days, depending on the depth of the subject matter expertise you’re trying to achieve. This might include learning broad skills like:

  • How to develop a common leadership framework
  • How to run effective meetings
  • How to manage performance more effectively
  • How to deliver performance reviews effectively
  • How to improve internal team processes
  • How to manage time, projects, or teams more effectively
  • How to develop emotional intelligence or effective collaboration skills

Macro Learning can be given through workshops, experiential learning, seminars, online courses, or coaching sessions. More often than not, Macro Learning is delivered through instructor or expert-led sessions. It’s a useful form of workplace learning for employees at any level of the company, in any stage of their career.

Informal Learning

Informal learning allows individuals to learn from a variety of sources that align with their personal interests and preferences while consuming content that is most relevant to their role or project. In this style, individuals learn at their own pace because there isn’t structured content or curriculum involved. Individuals can learn at any time and anywhere — including from coworkers, senior leaders, coaches, or even from a blog subscription. Informal workplace learning is a great opportunity for individuals to satisfy their curiosity while learning valuable skills in the process. It widens their knowledge base, and adds value to their job while encouraging initiative and self leadership. A culture of informal learning within an organization encourages greater collaboration and increases employee engagement by cultivating autonomous learning.

Did you know? 42% of employees say development opportunities is their top priority in choosing a job? How do you ensure you’re providing them with the #WorkplaceLearning opportunities they’re looking for? @InspireSoftware has the breakdown on the 5 modes of #EmployeeLearning:Tweet This!

Traditional Learning

Traditional workplace learning is a structured curriculum that’s delivered through a pre-defined, company-approved curriculum. These programs may be online or led by a classroom instructor in-person, or some blend of both methods. But traditional learning requires specialized expertise and access to instructional designers, visual and UX designers, technology experts, and more. There is a greater cost to these programs, and they require more time to develop and deploy, but the scale and level of content included in traditional learning still creates value for an organization.

Cross-Functional Learning

Cross-functional learning expands workplace learning beyond an individual’s role or department into different departments, job positions, and responsibilities. Cross-company learning helps HR teams identify gaps across a broader scope. For example, managers company-wide may need assistance in improving things like:

  • Providing effective feedback
  • Setting clear goals, objectives, and key results
  • Developing productive listening skills
  • Motivating individuals more effectively
  • Developing a consistent and effective problem-solving process

Curriculum can be designed around a shared skills gap analysis, and deployed to each role across the management level throughout the company. As a result, the curriculum can effectively level-up, down, or across any context of leadership, including the individual contributor. Cross-functional learning helps create a common language around common skills and aligns effectively with other types of learning modes at a micro or macro level.

Align Learning to Goals

While an effective learning plan is a great asset for organization, make sure learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Create learning experiences that align with individual and team goals. If an individual wants to take their performance to the next level or improve upon the desired outcomes they are pursuing, design learning experiences that help them more effectively pursue their goals.

Once individuals have identified skill gaps and aligned learning to their performance goals, it may be helpful to develop an actual learning goal to keep the individual on track toward developing the necessary skills to improve performance. The right set of goals for workplace learning and development is critical to implementing training across an organization. Creating learning goals helps set learning expectations, creates a structure and plan for learning, and can optimize the overall learning experience. Taking time to set a clear learning strategy for 2020, according to these five learning styles, will result in a highly skilled and engaged learning culture that fuels the pursuit of organizational excellence.


We’d love to show you more about the ways Inspire Software can supercharge your workplace learning through expert curriculum and goal-setting that puts it into practice, in real-time.