Man is a social being. From the moment we are born, we start observing all that is happening around us. It is only through observations that we learn to walk, eat, talk and do everything else. Psychologist Albert Bandura proposed the same with his social learning theory. The theory states that learning is a cognitive process that takes place in a social context and happens only through observation or direct instruction.
Now it may seem complex with these heavy words but, in reality, it is what we have been doing all our lives. We utilise the concept of social learning to adopt the behaviours and actions that another person has found to be beneficial to get the desired result. From a commercial standpoint, social learning entails that employees continue to learn long after the formal training session has ended. It’s crucial if you want to foster a culture of “social learning” in your company.
Around 75% of learning in organisations is through social learning. Therefore, many organisations have now also started to mix this aspect of ‘social learning’ with their employee training programmes. This can be achieved using various interactive and peer to peer knowledge sharing features available in eLearning tools like Docebo LMS, etc. If utilised optimally, such tools can lead to higher engagement, increased cooperation and enhanced job satisfaction among employees.
Social Learning can have many other benefits for employees and the organisation as a whole as well. Some of them are:
1. Higher Rate of Retention
Studies have proven that we can retain 90% of what we learn socially or informally whereas only 10% is retained through formal learning. This is because formal learning requires voluntary efforts to learn and process information while in the case of social learning, our mind automatically observes people and captures important information.
This means that your employees are likely to retain the skills or behavioural patterns longer if they learn them by observing their colleagues as compared to learning the same formally.
2. Aids in Solving the Problems in Real-Time
Social learning allows employees to discuss and collaborate with others whenever they face a problem. Observing how others are solving similar problems will not only motivate them to try harder but also give them ideas to develop their own solutions. This will also help in infusing team spirit into your workforce. Employees will feel like they are a part of a bigger group instead of an individual doing his work separately.
3. Gives Introverts their Spaces
Formal learning or training settings generally involve big groups. Participating in their discussions becomes a nightmare for people who are shy, introverted or simply scared of publicly sharing their opinions. Social learning gives such people their space as it allows them to learn as much as any other member of the group by listening to the thoughts of others.
4. Saves Time and Energy
One of the most significant characteristics of social learning is that it does not demand any extra time or energy from you. It is a natural way of learning for your brain. Thus, you do not need to organise any special event or adjust the schedule of your employees. They can subconsciously learn new things just by interacting and observing each other.
For example, if one of your employees gets recognised for their work or receives a bonus, others will naturally try to put the same actions and behavioural patterns in an attempt to achieve the same results.
5. Reduces Cost of Employee Training
Social learning allows employees to learn certain skills from one another. This peer to peer knowledge sharing renders organising seminars or calling subject matter experts to deliver a lecture for your employees useless. This reduces the cost of employee training for the organisations.
From the above-mentioned points, it is clear that social learning offers multifold benefits. Thus, organisations should try to optimally utilise this mode of learning and develop a strong and efficient workforce.