Informal Learning

What is Informal Learning?

Informal learning is people acquiring skills they use at work by informal means such as: talking, observing others, trial-and-error, working with people, reading articles online, etc.

Informal learning is the unofficial, unscheduled, improptu way most of us learn at work.

Formal training accounts for only 10-20% of what people learn but the problem is that traditional training departments allocate almost all of their resources for formal training. Why is it then that 20% of corporate spending goes to informal trainign when it accounts for 70-80% of learning in organizations?

The majority of organizations care about learning but only if it relates to execution and results. Executives and managers want performance. The misconception with informal learning is that it should happen unintentionally - it's not a process to leave up to chance. If done correctly, informal learning is a profit strategy.

Organizations use it to:

  • Improve knowledge and employee productivity.
  • Increase sales by Google-izing product knowledge.
  • Generate fresh ideas.
  • Reduce stress, absenteeism, and improve company culture.
  • Increase professional growth.
  • Cut costs and improve responsiveness with self-learning.

  • Informal learning is effective because traditional corporate training is something that is imposed on the employee; learning is something that you choose. Knowledge workers thrive when given freedom to decide how they will do what's asked of them.

    Why is it important?

  • The millennial generation coming into the workplace have no patience for single-track instructors or independent working.
  • Boomers are leaving and taking their knowledge with them unless in the meantime it gets transferred.
  • The global economy is shifting from factory work to service work and expertise and emotional intelligence is not learned in the classroom

  • How can you encourage informal learning?

    The easiest ways to foster an environment that encourages informal learning is to encourage learning without borders. Removing obstacles, creating open communities, increasing bandwidth and encouraging conversation and growing networks is a start. Giving employees tools that make informal learning easier, such as Smartphones, greater Internet access and apps like BoostHQ, you will foster the idea that your informal learning initatives are genuine.

    Employees learn best when they:

  • Know what's in it for them and deem it relevant.
  • Understand what is expected of them.
  • Connect with other people.
  • Are challenged to make choices.
  • Feel safe about showing what they do and do not have knowledge about.
  • Receive information in small packets.
  • Learn things close to the time they need it.
  • Confront maybes instead of certainties.
  • Teach others.
  • Get positive reinforcement.
  • Make and correct mistakes.
  • Try, and keep trying.
  • Reflect on their learning and apply it.

  • People are overwhelmed with incoming messages and information now that they have little time to cover new ground. Your organization wants innovation? How can people innovate when they hardly have time to get their regular jobs done?

    Learning use to focus on what was in an individuals head. Now learning focuses on what it takes to do the job right. The workplace is a giant open book exam; usually done as a team. BoostHQ helps you organize and make sense of all this information.

    Try BoostHQ and harness the power of sharing in your organization.