Driving Employee Performance: Is Microlearning Still Effective?

Microlearning was one of the top business trends of 2017, but is it still effective in 2018? In short, yes. Bite-sized learning is far better for learners and employers than traditional training courses. The top companies no longer question its efficacy because they’ve seen the results.

According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, consuming smaller chunks of information makes employee training around 17% more efficient. A report by Software Advice – titled The LMS Features that Drive Employee Engagement Industry – also found that 50% of employees are more engaged by bite-sized training courses than traditional forms of learning.

The numbers don’t lie, so what makes microlearning so effective?

What is Microlearning?

Microlearning is a way of delivering educational content in small, highly specific bursts – either through video e-Learning, infographics, short-form content or a combination of different media. However, microlearning means more than just “small” training. It focuses on helping the learner achieve certain objectives when they are most relevant to the needs of the business.

Furthermore, it can be tied to specific goals or knowledge gaps, making it an effective way to drive employee performance while also serving the needs of your business. If you want to attract and retain your best talent in the digital generation, you have to adapt to the needs of modern learner: that means implementing microlearning technologies.

Microlearning: Adapting to a Millennial Workforce

It’s no secret that our attention spans are dwindling. According to recent studies, the average attention span of the millennial generation is 90 seconds. Estimates believe that by 2025, millennials alone will make up 75% of the workforce, which is why business leaders are coming up with new ways to teach and deliver training.

The self-directed nature of microlearning appeals to millennial learners. Although Generation Y tends to get a bad rap, employees in this age bracket have been found to be incredibly hardworking and self-driven. Therefore, if you want to engage and motivate millennial workers, you need to give them the tools to do it themselves.

Consider that 73% of millennials watch YouTube videos on a monthly basis. The same study by Pew Research Center also found that two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) report that they are Facebook users, and around three-quarters of those users access Facebook on a daily basis. Therefore, creating content that can easily be used and shared online plays to the strengths of today’s employees.

When is Microlearning used?

This bite-sized learning approach is used for targeted, actionable training. It works best when it is consumed on the job, as employees can complete it in sizable chunks during a regular workday. This flexible, easy-to-manage approach means valuable members of the team won’t leave the business for extended periods of time, and you can keep track of their ongoing learning.

Some businesses consider microlearning to be the consumption of materials in a personal learning environment, such as watching a TED Talk or reading a short-form piece of content. However, other businesses implement their own planned learning experiences in the form of videos and other training materials.

Whichever approach you choose, the more granular learning approach operates on the basis that learning should not be a one-time event. With short training modules, the opportunities for ongoing training and development are endless.

Is microlearning right for your business?

To determine whether microlearning is right for your business, you need to consider both the needs of your learner and the needs of your organization. Think about the technical capabilities of your learners: while younger employees tend to respond better to electronic learning modules and short-form learning content, older generations may not be as comfortable completing their training on digital devices. This doesn’t mean microlearning can’t work across the board, but some learners may need more time and support getting to grips with the technology.

Microlearning doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can blend microlearning with long-form solutions for complex learning content, or summarize more complicated training. You can focus on narrow topics or concepts and arrive at learning objectives quickly, and at the time most relevant for the material to be put into action.

Benefits of Microlearning

Microlearning can have many advantages – both for the business and your employees.

Benefits for Employees

Training on the job: Whereas traditional forms of learning might involve the employee being out of the office for long periods of time (consuming large chunks of information they are likely to forget), microlearning allows learners to train and apply their new knowledge more quickly.

Relevant learning: Employees can select modules of training that are most applicable to their current needs, which helps them feel more engaged in their role.

Better sense of reward and success: Because people can typically process around four bits of information at a time, it’s easier for a learner to achieve success through short learning interventions.

Benefits for the employer

More affordable to produce and maintain: According to learning architect Ray Jimenez, bite-sized learning courses can be produced faster and at 50% of the cost of traditional courses.

Can be used across the board: Microlearning assets can be used for many different purposes, including communication tools, performance support, as smaller components in training initiatives and more.

Keep up to date with changing information: Microlearning will allow you to keep up to date with changing information. Your training will also stay in-line with newer technologies.

Immediate results: Unlike other forms of training, employees will be able to implement their new knowledge quickly and effectively.

Remember: the clue is in the name. When it comes to microlearning material, shorter is always better. The average training video should be about four minutes long. Any longer than this, and you’ll want to consider cutting out any fluff or irrelevant detail to make the content easier to digest. You should stick to one learning outcome per asset to get the most out of your training modules.


Microlearning is not just a buzzword. This mode of learning is a great way to close skill and knowledge gaps. It is being used across the board – in higher education, corporate enterprises, and small businesses. Microlearning will help your business keep on top of changing information while ensuring the development needs of your employees are met.

According to the Microlearning infographic by Grovo, traditional training simply doesn’t work in our fast-paced culture. Microlearning is not only still effective, but rather its career in the business sphere has only just begun. As more millennials enter the workforce, and digital devices continue to evolve to meet our needs, microlearning will be a necessary part of workplace training for many years to come.

Timothy Kelly

Timothy Kelly

Tim has been a writer for over 20 years covering financial markets and small business. In addition to writing about the financial markets, Mr. Kelly writes extensively about digital marketing and SEO. Mr. Kelly attended Boston College where he studied English Literature and Economics, and also attended the University of Siena, Italy where he studied studio art. Mr. Kelly has been a decades-long community volunteer in his hometown of Long Island where he established the community assistance foundation, Kelly's Heroes. He has also been a coach of Youth Lacrosse for over 10 years. Prior to volunteering in youth sports, Mr. Kelly was involved in the Inner City Scholarship program administered by the Archdiocese of New York. Before creating ForexTV, Mr, Kelly was Sr. VP Global Marketing for Bridge Information Systems, the world’s second largest financial market data vendor. Prior to Bridge, Mr. Kelly was a team leader of Media at Bloomberg Financial Markets, where he created Bloomberg Personal Magazine. Contact Tim tim.kelly@smallbizstar.com