It seems that most of HR departments are more occupied with the problem what are employees’ training needs rather than what method should be picked up to have good and long-lasting training results. Repetition and hands on activity are vital to retain knowledge. It is also fundamental what tools are used since they can hugely impact employee’s knowledge retention. Microlearning, though gaining more popularity, is still not used to such an extent as one might expect. The aim of this article is to present how microlearning is employed by some of the companies to achieve outstanding business results, but also to make the learning journey an attractive experience for their employees.
Microlearning is the method to grasp knowledge presented in small chunks. A learning session takes place on the mobile device. A module is short, usually around 5 min. or even less. It is packed with essentials. One microlearning lesson has only one specific goal to perform. Videos or other rich formats accompany the training to accelerate the learning process. Gamification i.e. using the elements from games or game convention is often used in microlearning. Moreover, learner can decide when or where to take the lesson. It is the learner who is in the center of attention and his/her needs. Retaining knowledge is fundamental. Continuous learning in small bites guarantees best results. Microlearning is the learning method which has appeared as the answer to growing number of millennials as the workforce but its appeal is much broader. The method is said to bring high engagement among the participants and give outstanding business results.
One of the examples of microlearning’s use is onboarding prepared by Domino’s Pizza. The idea was to give its new employees a standardized training when they come to work. Onboarding is often overloaded with knowledge, sometimes it discourages new staff. They have to learn many different things: ingredients, quantities and recipes and it’s tough to prioritize things in the beginning. Additionally, the tasks need to be done in a limited period of time. The training aimed to engage them with their new duties, to quickly teach them know-how and give the possibility to come back to the training if needed. The formula used in the training was gamification and it was highly rated by the staff. As a result, Domino Pizza claimed increase of speed to competency among the employees, cost savings due to learning right proportions from the beginning and as a result more satisfied customer.
Another example of using microlearning method was employed by American retailer Walmart who introduced a compliance training for the employees. Walmart needed to introduce safety culture which would affect in the decrease of injuries and accidents at work and last but not least save a lot of company’s money. Additional challenge was the fact that the workforce was multi-generational. Instead of traditional trainings, Walmart introduced Axonify™ microlearning platform. Employees were supposed to log into the platform while they had some down time during each shift. They had a task to play the game for 3 to 5 minutes and after to answer some questions regarding safety. They were given instant feedback on their results and the system remembered answers so it was able to come back to employee’s gaps in knowledge. The platform acted as a continuous loop. Both knowledge and behavior were tested to make sure that they were implemented on a daily basis. Walmart successfully diminished number of injuries and accidents at work. It increased significantly the knowledge on safety regulations among the employees. The platform gained huge popularity, not only was it focused on individual needs but it also did it in a funny, engaging way.
BT Consumer, a division of British Communication group, also used microlearning for training. Their aim was to improve customer service since many customers complained about it. Many unsatisfied customers had to phone several times to solve their problems. Additionally, BT Consumer recruited a lot of employees and needed fast onboarding training. Similarly to Walmart, the training had a game formula and microlearning bites ensure that the learning was efficient and interesting. Since the number of employees was around 2 500, it was vital that learning was individualized to cater for different knowledge and experience. BT Consumer claimed that the customer service had improved, which manifested itself in reduced number of callback rate. Customer value improvement grew by 5%. Reduction in call-handling time caused that customer service could handle more customers in shorter period of time.
Microlearning is also utilized in product training to help the staff remember product specifications. One can find such an example in Toyota, in the USA. The car company helped car dealerships learn the specification and differences regarding different car models. It was available for 25 000 representatives. The company noted 5% increase in their sales satisfaction index and increased sales. Not only did it help the staff to remember specifications, but it positively influenced their self-confidence making them better salespersons.
Examples of microlearning can also be found in a competitive pharma industry. Connectmedica™ uses microlearning in its Highp platform. Highp allows to send personalised messages via SMS, e-mail or push-up notification. Microlearning is one of the aspects of the platform. Additionally, it has also tools to conduct account-based campaigns, can be used for customer services and allows for follow ups. Highp microlearning is an up-to-date solution which can be used for onboarding new employees, product training or just-in-time training. It allows the employees to have trainings without disturbing their daily working routines. For the company it means cost savings as trainings can be easily updated and they are cheaper in comparison to traditional trainings. Messages are positively assessed by 90% of recipients. Highp gets very positive feedback from the leading pharma companies.
Microlearning can be used for different trainings with different purposes. Its up-to-date features (mobile use and usually game-like formula) make it appealing to employees. Microlearning opens a new chapter in learning methods.
A popular joke among professionals presents two managers talking at work about a training for an employee. The financial manager says ¨What if we invest in him and he leaves the company…¨. ¨What if we don’t and he stays…¨, answers the other. It seems that most of companies have successfully gone through the questioning of the training needs. No doubt, in the fast-paced, technology-dominated world employees need trainings. The more relevant question is how to make most of trainings, so both employees and employers maximize their gains.
Changing learner’s profile
According to Forbes, a learner profile is undergoing serious changes nowadays and it has a huge impact on the training model. Forbes points out to some of the demographic and social changes. Growing mobility of workforce can be treated as a constant now. Increasing number of millennial employees is another important aspect. Acc. to PWC millennials will constitute half of the global workforce by 2020. Millennials bring some expectationswith them, such as needs for development and training, preferably in flexible hours, so they can choose time for training themselves e.g. while commuting. Forbes also points out that most of the workers are not available at their desks even up to 50 or 60% of their time during their workday, because of on-the-go schedule, flexible time or remote work. Additionally, one can see that there is a need for highly qualified staff on the market and employees are expected to have broad knowledge and learn fast.
Why current methods are not enough?
When one thinks of a traditional training session with a coach, problems such as time, cost and efficiency pop up. Long training sessions take much of employees’ time. It’s already a challenge to organize them amid busy working schedules. The cost cannot be overlooked because training needs for different employees are various while budget limitations do not change. Efficiency of a whole day training event can be sometimes questionable. Trainings can be interrupted by external factors and the attention span has also its limitations. Success of the session depends on the effectiveness of the instructor. 
Computer-Based Training (CBT), quite a popular tool, has also some basic disadvantages such as: not enough of interaction, not suitable for teaching soft skills or simply being monotonous.
Other training methods such as mobile applications seem not to work in companies which claim “bring your own device” policy (BYOD). Smartphones, for example, have different operating systems and the factor can exclude some of the staff from training.
Even online trainings, reported by the ASTD “State of the Industry” as extremely popular these days, have some disadvantages. They are usually generic trainings and not tailored to companies’ needs. Moreover, they are expensive to create. Companies’ hardware can impede training. Participants sometimes feel awkward to ask questions online and impersonal nature of the training can act as a disadvantage. 
Microlearning as the option
According to eLearning Industry, microlearning becomes more and more popular and it is claimed to be a milestone in learning. Microlearning is today’s answer to millennials’ learning needs but its appeal is much broader. It uses the advancements in brain science and progress in technology. Microlearning is self- paced, on demand training which allows a learner to take frequent, bite-sized microlessons, so called learning nuggets. The popularity of the tool can be attributed to mobile technology and game-like formula. It’s designed to be used on the move, so by its very nature it is short – up to 5 minutes or less. It is packed with essentials. Videos seem to be much more preferred over other mediums, but there are other options available: audio, presentations and games. The aim is to concentrate upon one objective per training. Small chunks of knowledge supplied regularly in an attractive format seem to work better than traditional methods.
There are many advantages of microlearning use. Its concise form helps to keep dwindling attention span. It engages learners and allows them to complete even a few microlearning modules. No stress, no feeling of being bored or overloaded with a long training session. Concepts are memorised better because a microlearning module concentrates on one specific aim. Microlearning sessions are constructed in such a way that they help to overcome Ebbinghaus’ “forgetting curve”, the phenomena of natural knowledge loss over time if no attempt was made to repeat it. Microlearning sessions can be taken at any time, any place. They do not distract an employee from the work, since they don’t cause long breaks. They combine new material with repetition. For a company they are much more affordable than training sessions. They are quick to develop and update.
eLearning Industry claims that microlearning has versatile usages. It can be used for employee’s onboarding or getting the professional knowledge about the company and its products. It can be used for trainings of the staff working in retail industry, helping them to explain the working of a tool or a product specifications. It can also be used for compliance trainings to teach the staff e.g. safety procedures. It can be used to develop professional skills trainings. The possibilities are numerous. All materials are presented in an up-to-date, attractive and easily digested way.
Microlearning in practise
Currently growing number of companies use microlearning as an efficient way to train their employees. Connectmedica™ sees a high potential in microlearning and incorporates it in the tools which are developed. Designed for pharma industry Highp platform is such an example. It is a communication tool between the sales representative and the customer. Highp allows to send personalised messages via SMS, e-mail or push-up notification. It allows to publish interesting educational materials such as video or audio (2-3 minutes long). Supplying up-to-date concise knowledge in an attractive packaging is important, but equal emphasis is put on the retention of the material. The microlearning Highp training is linked with a short test to check knowledge. Highp platform is all about mobility. Apart from possibility to open messages on tablet, PC or Mac, it can also be opened on smartphones. It is a perfect tool to be used on the way to work in a car or on a bus. A special automation system allows to put the messages in a que. Progress of an individual can be checked and one can see whether a lesson has been finished or abandoned. It is vital that system can be customised for each employee so they learn exactly what they need instead of having “one fits all” training.
Highp microlearning is an up-to-date solution which can be used for onboarding and just-in-time training. The technical capabilities of users are not important. Every smartphone user is able to use it since the platform is intuitive.
It is important to stay updated esp. in the fast changing and competitive industry such as pharma. Highp is the platform that gives most advanced tools and makes sure that microlearning is interesting and efficient. Highp is eagerly used by professionals who have busy schedules and who know the real value of time. It does not overburden them with long training sessions but offers essentials which are needed. Highp has been trusted by numerous leading pharma companies.
Marketing automation (MA) has become the key to success in building a relationship with clients. As the company grows, there’s no chance to maintain 1:1 relationship with every customer. Many can say that automation excludes any personalization, but that’s not true – MA helps to reach the right people at the right time, and it is more user-friendly than any other communication method.
According to Nucleus Research [source], it drives a 14,5% increase in sales productivity and reduces marketing overhead by 12,2%. However, it isn’t a piece of cake – there are a few steps every marketer needs to walk through. These steps are a base for building a good MA strategy.