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The Social Importance of Informal Learning for Businesses 

 

Posted on Tue, 27/05/2014 - 14:28

Learning is an ever-important aspect of workplace training that has been transitioning to more informal methods over the last few years. The rise in the popularity of tablets, smartphones, and numerous social media platforms has changed the way organizations train employees and relay important information and policy changes. By embracing a learning culture and being open to change and adaptation across the board, businesses are not only setting their companies up for success, but are creating a more positive and effective environment for employees.

Informal Learning Explained

Informal learning is typically defined as “learning that takes place independently from instructor-led classes or course-specific work such as self-study programs, performance support materials and systems, coaching, mentoring, and/or online community-based learning through social and business networks.” Informal learning approaches are seen as extremely useful and effective, largely because they are opening the door for social and interactive ways to soak up information. Examples of informal learning practices include team-building sessions that are comprised of employee/supervision collaboration and brainstorming. Yet another example of effective informal learning techniques includes “lunch and learn sessions,” which offer the opportunity for employees to receive training while having lunch catered in or going out of the office for the meal. Other suggestions for developing a supportive and successful workplace through informal learning practices include the following: 

  • Reward learning champions
  • Informal Learning for Business Have employees write book reviews
  • Recognize learning achievements
  • Use technology to share knowledge
  • Encourage supervisors to become mentors and coaches
  • Develop an informative self-instruction manual
  • Share articles, books, and websites that leaders find useful

Using social media as an informal learning technique can be a very effective tool if used correctly. Social media resources enable employees to seek out information and ideas on their own, which will allow for more resources and areas to get information from. Once again, social media also encourages employee collaboration and serves as a great platform for sharing ideas and mingling. 

The Positive Impact of Informal Learning

Informal learning methods promote the idea that working and learning are intertwined. Even though learning takes place at an individual level, by creating a learning environment that uses alternative techniques and supports collaboration and self-designed learning, businesses are changing the workforce. Informal learning methods give a better measurement of how employees are responding to training and help determine what should be changed in order to be more effective. This ability to evaluate reactions and attitudes towards the information that is being conveyed is hugely important to the overall success of a business.

In the end, informal learning is impacting the business world on a social level and showing that it is important for companies to encourage curiosity and continue to come up with new methods and solutions for workplace issues. Creating a workplace where employees can collaborate easily, share ideas, and bounce information off of one another is a great way to establish a more positive work environment where individuals want to learn and be a part of the bigger picture. Through informal learning techniques and practices, you will be able to encourage employees to get involved and have more stock in your company. By establishing a climate that fosters learning, you are making positive steps for your company’s future and the future of your employees. 

Contact Us today to learn more about ways we can help your organization create a successful informal learning program.