Social Learning: What It Is, And Why It’s Crucial For Deskless Employees

November 14, 2019

Retail sales training | employee engagement | training

Mobile learning platforms have long been a valued tool in teaching, but they are now also becoming ubiquitous in the retail and hospitality sectors. If you don’t already know about the value of social learning in the workplace - well, you’ve come to the right place.

Short on time? Watch this video summary instead: 

Social Learning Video Blog

What is social learning?

Social learning theory, originated by psychologist Albert Bandura, puts forward the idea that people learn by watching and imitating the behavior of others. But how is that relevant to team training?

It tells us that learning is a social exercise. And that means that formal training - for most retail and hospitality workers, in the form of an incredibly boring day of being lectured half to death in a stuffy room - isn’t very effective.

In fact, according to the 70-20-10 model for learning and development, 70% of knowledge is gained from job-related experience, and 20% is learned through interactions with others, as opposed to just 10% from formal education.

Social learning in a professional context, then, is all about creating a culture of collaboration. Having a shared knowledge base where employees can exchange best practices, ask and answer questions, and support each other’s training is the best way to engage them in learning.

Why is social learning so valuable for your teams?

  • It takes the learning process from passive to active

Working in retail or hospitality is not a passive kind of job, so why should the training be? Taking a full day to sit in that stuffy room we mentioned, trying not to fall asleep, just doesn’t fit with a dynamic store environment.

Learning with and from your peers, on the other hand, is an active process. Learning by teaching is a proven method for better retaining information, and most of us are more likely to remember something we’ve learned from an interaction with a colleague than we are to remember every detail of a lecture.

  • It promotes informal learning

Of course, receiving training in more of a formal, structured setting from an authority figure does have its place in a training program. However, informal learning is often more effective because it doesn’t really feel like learning at all.

Exchanging ideas and expertise with colleagues in a more relaxed context - ideally, within a digitized platform designed specifically for your network - is likely to achieve much better engagement.

  • It allows for multiple perspectives

The beauty of working with others is that each person has different knowledge, skills and experience, all of which are valuable in their own right.

If you can empower your employees to share this experience and disseminate it to the rest of your network, you can reinforce best practices and ensure that every single member of your team has access to all the help and advice they could ever need.

  • It creates a sense of community

For a deskless workforce, fostering community spirit is hugely important. Employees that feel isolated from their colleagues often end up feeling disengaged from their work, too.

By providing team members with a support lifeline in the form of a social learning platform, you’re creating a culture of teamwork and collaboration that will help employees feel connected to one another.

  • It has a democratizing quality

Everyone has their own specific field of expertise, no matter what their job title, and they should be able to share that expertise with their colleagues.

Having a communal knowledge base where they are able to do so not only enriches everyone else’s learning experience, but also shows employees that their voice matters. And an employee that feels valued will inevitably be more engaged with their work.

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