Confession: I have the shortest attention span possible. I lose staring-contests to my goldfish, can’t sit through a three-minute long L&D video and am guilty for completing other work during lengthy lectures so it appears that I’m taking notes.

But I know I’m not alone on this one. The truth is, millions of millennials – myself included – grew up using devices that deliver information within a single second. Today, we’re accustomed to this type of learning. A recent study shows it’s this immediate demand and delivery that has led to a four-second decrease in the human attention span – from 12 seconds to eight seconds. While you can argue about the actual merit of this study, the truth is that we do need to be mindful of our learner’s limited attention spans.

While the foundation behind traditional learning and teaching sounds good to some folks, this type of learning is hindering businesses from thriving. It’s what worked in the past, but not necessarily what will work in the future. Today, businesses need to invest in new technology and better learning ideas, such as microlearning.

Why microlearning?

In the morning, do you read the newspaper or do you tune in periodically to news on TV? When you have a question, do you reach for a textbook or for your smartphone?

If you chose the second option for either of the scenarios, you’re already familiar with microlearning. Microlearning is the absorption of bite-sized, specific pieces of information. Many people engage in microlearning every day by using their tablet or smart phone to discover new things.

Microlearning fulfills many employees’ needs, and as a result, they can better meet business needs. Here are five ways microlearning helps a business and its employees succeed:

1. Prevents wasted time

Contrary to popular belief, employees aren’t completely resistant to learning new things or training. They’re resistant to dated manuals and lengthy workshops. They’d rather absorb important information in short spurts and on their own time.

Technology offers employees the information they need in a format that works best for them. By replacing time-consuming methods with technology, companies will see that microlearning is a quicker, more effective way to get employees up to speed.

Employees can watch assigned modules before heading to bed, during their commute to work, or while eating breakfast. Employers can even add a quiz at the end to ensure employees have watched and learned the assigned modules. They can also send out new, updated content through social media, video or text whenever necessary. Not only is it convenient for employees, it’s convenient for managers too.

2. Makes employees feel respected

When employees are treated like adults in the workplace, with their own independence and freedom, they’ll feel respected. On the other hand, if they must sit through tedious, boring training sessions, it’s going to feel as if they’re in school.

Microlearning provides employees with the independence they crave. It shows them that the company trusts their willingness to learn and improve.

3. Keeps employees up-to-date

Internal business changes occur regularly and new skills must be acquired to keep up. When employees can attain information quickly and efficiently through microlearning, they’ll always be up-to-date with rapid change. Keeping employees in the loop with the latest happenings can make all the difference in a business’ success.

4. Allows employees to retain more information

When it comes to the human brain, it thinks quickly and in short bits, then moves on to retaining new information.

Companies can use this to their advantage. With micro-learning modules and updates, the only cost is in their development. Best of all, employee down time isn’t spent attending long training sessions, in which they don’t digest the information anyhow.

Most employee training can be completed via micro learning, but not all of it. It’s up to the executive to differentiate what information should and shouldn’t be completed through micro learning.

5. Allows businesses to share more knowledge

When information is presented in large amounts, most employees can’t absorb or remember it later on. But when knowledge is shared informally in short spurts, it’s less likely to go in one ear and out the other. Companies who can successfully share more knowledge with their employees will gain a competitive edge.

Companies can highlight the importance of microlearning by offering an incentive for informal learning achievements. The more encouragement around microlearning, the more proactive employees will be.

Making the most out of microlearning

You now know that microlearning can help push a company along the path to success. But it’s not enough to simply know about the benefits. If you’re a manager, you’ll want to ensure that you’re implementing microlearning in a way that’s useful to your employees.

Create mobile compatible learning modules and updates

Flexibility – that’s the point behind micro learning. So, in order to offer flexibility, you must make sure that your modules and any updates you develop are mobile-friendly. Most people use their smart phones and tablets over computers. You’ll need to ensure the modules are quick to load on every device and last no more than 10 minutes at a time.

Use videos and graphics

Remember making flash cards in school? There was a reason for it: people can learn better when they’re not inundated with a lot of information at one time. The brain processes information better when delivered in small amounts. Of course, you don’t want to provide flash cards of information for your employees to review. Instead, use videos and graphics to get your point across. Videos tend to be concise, and to the point. Most people today are also visual learners, making video and graphics the most effective way to communicate information in a short time frame.

Add interaction

Making the experience interactive will help employees stay attentive and remember the information more easily. For example, to keep the employees engaged with a training video, add an interactive quiz at the end that relates to the video.

Out with the old, in with the new

Formal learning is geared toward one person teaching a whole group of employees on how something should be done. But informal learning methods, like microlearning and social learning, are impacting the success of businesses. Through microlearning, skills are learned faster, training is cheaper and the results are greater.

Today’s workforce takes in information in all sorts of ways:

  • Watching online videos
  • Reading articles on the Internet
  • Looking over social media posts
  • Talking to co-workers by the watercoolers

In order for a business to survive and grow, the company must offer a culture where all knowledge is shared between customers, partners and employees. It’s important for businesses to continue growing, and informal learning makes that possible.