Why Social Learning Is Important For Workforce of Tomorrow

Why Social Learning is Critical for the Workforce of Tomorrow

Learning can be imbibed in many forms and through a variety of experiences and interactions besides simple classroom teaching. Interaction with peers and colleagues via casual break room chats as well as mentoring and experience-sharing can also impact our learning behaviors. In fact, a “70-20-10” learning model devised by researchers in 1996 suggests that:

  • 70% of learning occurs through day-to-day tasks, challenges, and experiences,
  • 20% of learning occurs through feedback and interacting with our peers and colleagues, and
  • 10% of learning occurs via structured training courses in a formal environment.

Fig 1: The 70-20-10 Learning Model

Supporting this, the social learning theory in psychology connects the social behavior of human beings with how they learn. It explains how humans can learn by observation and how environmental and cognitive factors such as emotional reactions, attitudes, and experiences influence learning behavior. 

The past couple of pandemic years has taught us the importance of human interactions. The remote working model has further underlined the importance of social and collaborative learning to create and learn from meaningful experiences. The takeaway from this is that there is much room for improvement when it comes to upskilling and reskilling of employees and maintaining proficiency within the workplace. Learning and Development (L&D) teams are well aware of the social learning theory and current trends in the industry are constantly attempting to implement it while combining it with technology. From using chatting platforms to connect team members to leveraging gamification for inter-player battles and quizzes in training programs, L&D professionals are creating creative ways to integrate social learning within their learning process. Here’s a closer look at some benefits of inculcating social learning into your L&D strategy:

All Eyes on Learner Engagement

Keeping learners engaged and motivated is crucial for ensuring real learning. However, traditional learning techniques within formal environments can have the opposite effect on learners. However, since social learning is interactive, it can quickly increase interest levels and satisfy learners’ curiosity.  Further, hands-on activities, sharing experiences, and group communication methods can support knowledge sharing while keeping learners engaged. 

Suggested read: Gamification: The Bridge Between Learner Motivation and Competitive Behavior

Fostering a Culture of Continuous Learning

In an age where automation takes over repetitive tasks and simplifies many business processes, it is becoming even more important to learn new skills, build upon existing ones, and unlearn outdated methods. Gaining a competitive advantage in the market, filling in the skill gaps, fostering innovation, and boosting employee performance are among the top reasons organizations are constantly looking for tools that make learning an integral part of the workforce. With its foundation in linking behaviorism and cognitivism, having a social learning perspective can encourage a culture of continuous learning and adaptability. When employees have an outlook of perceiving learning as a life-long process, it helps enrich their personal and professional development and subsequently drives the growth and success of the organization.  

Building a Collaborative Environment 

A collaborative environment fosters when employees reach out to each other and deal with issues with empathy and compassion. Networking, communication, and collaboration can facilitate the social learning process and help cultivate values such as trust, support, and inclusion. Such an environment can significantly contribute towards nurturing a positive atmosphere and uplifting the cultural growth of an organization. 

Boosting Productivity

The main aim of any L&D strategy is to drive the growth of a business by boosting productivity at the workplace. Continuous in-group communication and collaboration via chat platforms, forums, and training programs for employees can enhance knowledge sharing. The increased frequency of asking and answering queries sharing knowledge via water cooler-like setups can boost employee performance and productivity within teams. 

A Cost-Effective Approach 

One of the most important benefits of social learning is its cost-effective nature. With the ‘Great Resignation’ being in sight, having a skilled workforce has become a valuable asset.  Companies that invest in human resources with a curiosity to learn are open to new experiences and have a critical-thinking mindset that supports the company’s continuous learning processes. Social learning happens through everyday interactions and situations, so what better way to learn by interacting with such a valuable resource! Further, online training platforms with social learning features teamed with gaming mechanics such as live chat, poll questions, inter-team or inter-player battles, quizzes, etc., can help promote organic learning in an informal environment. 

Social learning is an excellent way for organizations to achieve their long-term learning goals while enabling employees to keep working towards their professional development goals. Likewise, with reference to the 70-20-10 learning model, integrating social learning methods in L&D strategy covers the experiential and social aspects of the learning process beyond the traditional learning methods and provides a holistic approach to learning. Social learning, along with the power of new technologies, is a great way to remove the silo-effects of separate departments, geographies, and time zone differences. AR/VR, virtual worlds, and gamification have shown tremendous potential to be the future of social learning. Metaverse can re-imagine the way people collaborate and work online. Social learning thrives within an L&D strategy where a culture of learning is nurtured, leaders are empowered, the use of new technology is promoted, and new market opportunities can be seized upon. 

Interested in implementing a social learning strategy? Talk to our experts today.

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