Importance of Social Learning in Employee Retention

by Jody Ordioni

It is necessary for any company to provide opportunities for growth to its employees through constant training. Employees are demanding better options for professional development and companies also have to acquaint them with technological advancements. This implies that there is greater pressure on the organization to widen the scope of learning for employees. The increased demand for learning programs also makes it an important part of employee retention and talent acquisition strategy, according to HR professionals. Many businesses are now looking at instructor-less learning programs since the incoming generations of the workforce are more reliant on technology to facilitate learning.

Varied Subjects and Methods

The social approach to learning encapsulates three tenets- it is spread across multiple platforms of media, it has a peer-to-peer aspect, and the skills learned have the potential to be utilized in actual work life. Leaders are finally catching up to the fact that these three factors make the learning process meaningful.

In today’s business environment, learning is concerned more with connecting rather than picking up the latest technology trick. Social learning is easy because there are many informal channels such as sharing articles, pictures, and notes, that promote knowledge. Learning of this kind depends on building connections and reflecting on the knowledge acquired in any relevant exchange amongst peers.

In other words, social learning relies on the natural curiosity in people and their desire to learn, be it through formal coursework or learning on the job. Productivity is not nurtured in isolation. Though people might want to believe in the myth of individual genius, it is not hidden that in any organization past ideas and accomplishments help to innovate better models. Social learning is a natural process for all organizations.

However, the pace of acceptance towards social learning in the competitive world of business is still moderate. Though the speed is slow, it is still integrating itself into the culture of many companies. As old-school approaches to learning are becoming obsolete, more people are looking into the benefits of social learning.

The Reality of Social Learning

Is social learning effective? It is not a better or lesser method than traditional learning programs, but it is a holistic approach, that matches the need of the learners. It is a flexible system that guides the steps of the employees and allows them to learn at their pace.

The benefits of social learning are not only limited to flexibility but also take into consideration affordability. Integrating learning into the employee’s routine is low maintenance rather than supporting a roster of instructors and educators. In addition to this, in many companies, there is already a precedence for informal learning through collaboration on projects and inter-departmental interactions.

However, this doesn’t imply that social learning requires no effort. Social learning in any company is facilitated by proper implementation of the strategy. Learning has maximum output when the topics are relevant, and the efforts are purposeful. Social learning has to be intentional and part of a broader employee-learning experience.

Making social interaction successful means that people have to participate. Leaders must keep motivation levels high and should have the knowledge to head a project of such magnitude. Content that is created for social interaction needs to be engaging and relevant.

It needs to be kept in mind though, that social interaction is not successful in every industry. Mostly areas that require hands-on training don’t gel well with social interaction. The scale of success of this type of learning is dependent on the context. The industry needs to provide support and properly implement a strategy for social interaction to work well.

The Bottom Line

Social learning can be an attempt by the companies to cater to its workforce’s desire to learn and stimulate their brain cells. Upskilling employees is not a chance the employer has, it is a necessity. Skill-related learning will be in high demand in the coming five years, as our study suggests. Allowing learning opportunities for the employees shapes the company culture positively. A conducive culture is a good culture for employee retention; the top talent yearns to learn and stays where it gets such chances. Thus, social learning is the road to retaining top talent.

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