How is Social Learning Beneficial to The Workplace?

By Sean Gordon

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Maybe you’ve heard this saying before. As individuals, we are constantly observing behaviors of those around us. What we see, we often are influenced to do. We look at what people wear, what they say, what they do and what they don’t do. We are consistently taking in information about how our world functions and ultimately how we respond. This is called Social Learning.

Social learning in its most adolescent form is learning alongside and from others. As children, we consistently learn and observe behaviors and attitudes from those around us. We begin to imitate patterns of those who influence us, and overtime our behavior mirrors those we are most influenced by. Social learning has the capacity to produce positive or negative reactions, but when used affirmatively, it can be an agent of change, collaboration, and innovation. Over time, we see that learning through collaboration creates momentum when used in corporate onboarding, training, and coaching.

Why is It Important?

Have you ever started a new job and felt slightly unprepared, underqualified, or unequipped for the work that you were expected to do? More than likely you’re answering yes in your head right now. Thankfully, over 70 percent of the knowledge you need for your role is on-the-job learning. So don’t stress out when you step into a new role, you’ve got this. You will slowly become more and more confident. Over 50 percent of our required job skills are learned without structured or formal training. It is a crucial component of how we thrive and learn in the workplace.

There is a Learning and Developing Model that expresses the types of educational capital expensed in the workspace. This model suggests that 70 percent of employee learning is acquired from on the job experience. Twenty percent of learning and knowledge comes from interaction with others such as coworkers, clients, prospects, and upper management. Lastly, 10 percent of learning comes from structured of formal training from a previous institution. We learn through the power of experience, and when we engage in new opportunities, we create new avenues to learn and develop.

How is Social Learning Beneficial in the Workplace?

The way we communicate and collaborate with others speaks highly of the health of our organization. Our ability to communicate in an authentic and engaging way allows for stronger unity and collaboration amongst teams. It provides clearer expectations and opens the door for communication to become a lifeline within your organization. Social learning tears down the paradigm of 9-5 workday systems and invites in creativity, innovation, and collaboration. It says goodbye to environments where employees feel voiceless and unempowered by allowing individuals to learn with one another and contribute meaningful work together.

Key Benefits of Social Learning that Influence Learners:

  • Appeals to learners: Social learning is learner-centric and aligns with how we prefer to learn. It appeals to the learner because it sets aside the textbook and old-fashioned manual and allows learners to be engaged and participate in the work they do. It cuts down training time for on-boarding and allows for better integration when new hires join a team.
  • Creates bigger impact: Collaboration and interaction help learners learn better. If individuals feel that their voice is heard and valued, they are motivated to perform more effectively and efficiently. In a group setting where ideas are able to be freely discussed, productivity can increase as the work can be distributed and expectations can be clearly communicated.
  • Offers flexibility: Social learning can be used to support formal learning and more significantly to foster informal learning and “learning as a continuum”.It embraces the idea that learning doesn’t stop. It continually challenges opportunities for growth and new adventures.

Key Benefits of Social Learning that Influence Businesses:

  • Facilitates learner engagement: Learning through interactions with others provides higher retention for the learner than when exposed to instructional training.
  • Implement collaboration: Together we achieve more. Social learning allows for ideas to be fostered into implementations.
  • Supplements corporate training: Social learning allows organizations to get rid of mechanical training measures and adds personalization and engagement back into the onboarding and continual training process.

How is Social Learning Best Implemented in the Workspace?

  • Model behavior for employees: As a leader, what behaviors do you reflect to your employees? Are they behaviors that you want your employees to display as well? You are their primary influencer, so what you do matters.
  • Encourage employees to imitate your behaviors: What incentives are you implementing when employees reflect desired behaviors? If you desire positive attitude in your workplace, are your employees being affirmed for their positivity?

To learn more about integrating collaboration and social learning into your organization, visit vidREACH.

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