Learning Methods

How L&D Can Use Social Learning to Empower Employee Development

Employee looking at likes, comments, and shares or content on a tablet

Informal learning is on the rise in workplaces, and social learning constitutes a large part of that. 

To solve problems, employees need answers in the moment, and peers and colleagues can quickly help find the information needed. Social learning is being used by forward-thinking organizations to create a collaborative learning environment that drives organizational performance and effectiveness of L&D activities.

What is Social Learning?

As an L&D professional, you have more than likely heard of social learning theory. Social learning is based on the theory developed by Albert Bandura that proposes learning as a cognitive process that takes place socially and occurs through either observation or direct instructions. 

Today, people learn by watching, listening, and doing; by blending hands on, visual, and auditory learning approaches. This is social learning.  

With the popularity of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, it’s common for people to connect the concept of social learning with social media, but social learning is much broader than a few online platforms – after all, it’s a concept that’s been around since the 1960s.

The social aspect refers to how the learning happens outside the typical classroom setting and often involves sharing and collaborating. In the workplace, there are lots of ways to facilitate this that don’t include the distractions that so often come with social media use.

Benefits of Social Learning at Work

Social learning can impact many areas of your organization, such as recruiting, onboarding, and training and developing talent. The greatest benefit though, is that social learning supports and encourages a learning culture. Having this culture helps organizations grow faster than they would if all training was prescribed and colleagues didn’t help one another learn.  

Results of social learning are quickly identifiable because social technologies have a direct and obvious effect on employees’ performance.

One example of how you can see employees engaging in social learning is to look at the interactions, such as comments and ratings, on courses within an online learning platform. It’s a simple but effective way to recommend helpful content, and if others see content has been rated highly by their colleagues, they are more likely to view it as well.

In addition, social learning is highly cost effective. By investing in an online training platform with features that encourage social learning, you’re optimizing your ROI because these features allow more learning to happen organically outside of training sessions. The learning and development becomes exponential, significantly building up that learning culture you’ve been after.

View our free, on-demand webinar to learn more about fostering collaboration among your employees:

Practical Ways L&D Can Adopt Social Learning

Keep in mind that social learning doesn’t have to happen in person or within groups of people – with the technology available today, some of the most effective forms of social learning at work come through online observation and passive interactions.

Here are a few ways you can introduce social learning into your workplace.

Utilize Chat Platforms to Connect

Chat platforms like Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Google Chat encourage and support employees to effectively collaborate and accomplish goals. Establish threads within these platforms related to work as well as unrelated to work. Team members can help each other with accomplishing business, but can also hop into the non-work chat to share pictures or talk about what’s going on in their lives – because getting to know each other on a more personal level is important for better collaboration!

Social Features Within Learning Platforms

BizLibrary’s online employee learning solutions are built with the preferences of learners in mind. In addition to the thousands of training videos we have to offer, our platforms are loaded with social features.

  • Ratings: Employees can rate courses within the learning platform and see how other learners have rated each course.
  • Comments: Learners can comment about their thoughts on individual lessons and courses and see what others have said.
  • Sorting Content: Learners can search for topics in the content library and sort by rating or popularity to see lessons and courses that others recommend.
  • Sharing Videos: The share video feature easily allows employees to share video lessons through links, email, or Microsoft Teams.
  • Sharing Playlists: Managers can create playlists of training content for their team members, and individuals can create and share playlists with colleagues.

Poll Questions

Polls are incorporated into many interactive video lessons. In these polls, employees can engage with the topic and compare their responses to their colleagues.

BizLibrary offers two platform solutions for your organization’s learning needs. Check out our platform comparison to see which solution is right for you!

Gamification 

You can’t force employees to learn, but you can certainly incentivize and encourage them to do so. Studies have shown that employees who were able to participate in learning games were more motivated to engage with and complete training than learners without gamification.

BizLibrary’s gamification features are designed to increase utilization and engagement with training content through social learning principles such as achievement rewards, friendly competition with leaderboards, progress tracking toward goals, and entertaining framing.

Learn more about Best Practices in Gamification by listening to our podcast.

Company Forums or Intranet

Having a forum or company intranet where employees can ask questions and get answers company-wide promotes a social culture and collaborative learning. This application can provide employees an opportunity to communicate interdepartmentally with various groups or even the entire company. This is also a great place to provide recognition – employees can give each other shout outs for birthdays, work anniversaries, hitting goals, getting promotions, or displaying your company’s core values.

To create a highly collaborative work environment, you need training technology that brings out the best in social learning. BizLibrary’s online learning solutions are built with peer-to-peer interaction at the forefront of the learning experience. With everything from playlist sharing, to gamification, to our Microsoft Teams integration, our solutions make it easy for your employees to work and learn together.  

Do you need employee learning solutions that encourage social learning? See why organizations like yours love using BizLibrary to help build a learning culture.

Training & Development Industry Researcher | Caroline researches and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. She looks at L&D and HR issues and industry trends and helps them understand how to create better training programs that grow their employees and their business.