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Microlearning: The Missing Piece in Your Performance Management

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Workplaces and workforces are rapidly changing, challenging companies to seek new ways to train and manage employees. For one thing, millennials have become the largest cohort of the U.S. labor force and they require a different training approach from the old-school way of day-long workshops and seminars, not to mention the simple truth that all of our attention spans are shrinking as we adjust to the speed of the Internet Age. As a whole, our workforce has moved towards a preference for through short bursts of information rather than sitting through half-day or day-long classes.

Getting and keeping employees engaged is a major ongoing concern for businesses and industries. As we've noted before, a recent report by Gallup found "only 32 percent of employees in the U.S. are engaged -- meaning they are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace." Another study finds that engagement is even lower for millennials, with just 29 percent engaged in their jobs.

Related: 4 Ways to Train Employees Effectively

Additionally, employees want more learning opportunities and feedback than ever (87 percent of millennials say development is important in a job). Even so, many organizations continue to use traditional performance-management methods that focus on annual reviews and inconsistent coaching to maintain and improve job performance.

Managers are just as busy and distracted as their employees, sometimes more so. They need ways to streamline and the process. More and more, forward-looking companies are turning to microlearning to train and evaluate employees.

Related: Focus on Education and Training to Retain Your Workforce

Microlearning is training delivered in small, short bursts that puts individuals in control of what they're learning. It works because it's:

  • Bite Sized -- Microlearning offers bite-sized information that is easily digestible and retainable.
  • Specific -- This targeted, tactile training uses real-world scenarios, not high-concept theories. Leaders can find the specific topics they need to address the relevant challenges they're facing.
  • Fast -- Leaders need swift, focused training because they make a huge impact on their organizations, yet they are often the most strapped for time. Microlearning gives them just-in-time, at-your-fingertips support.
  • On Demand -- Many forms of microlearning allow learners to browse through topics on their phones and bookmark it to go back to later. This kind of training is always available, whether it's just before a big meeting or on the go.

Microlearning's quick-hit learning style allows learners to choose their topics and get exactly what they need, when they need it. Employees have access to the skill-building tools they need and want rather than being forced to participate in generic training programs. Allowing them to search out and learn about only the specific topics that are relevant to them increases overall engagement. Some forms of microlearning even incorporate gaming elements to help keep employees intrigued and involved.

Related: Online Training For Employees Is Consistent and Will Save You Cash

This form of information delivery is most effective because it is delivered in multiple formats that cater to a variety of learning styles. Examples include:

  • online learning
  • videos
  • phone apps
  • one-page job aids
  • 20-minute huddle sessions
  • 5-minute reinforcement e-learning
  • infographics
  • quick tips

Microlearning works best when simple solutions are employed. This means keeping the company and the learner in mind, as well as choosing the format that can get to market the fastest to address the need at hand. Close that gap with the most digestible, easily accessible tools you can. What will work given the culture, the learner and the specific situation they need support in? Answering this question will help ensure that your training and performance management efforts are more successful today, tomorrow and down the road.

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