How to integrate social learning into the workplace

  • By: Helen Baker

  • 14 July ‘22

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6 minutes read

How to integrate social learning into the workplace

Learning never stops.

While establishing an ultra-productive work environment built on ethics and motivation is imperative, it’s not the only concept organisations should be focused on.

Welcome to social learning aka observational learning – A theory delving into human behaviour, environmental influences and ultimately how people learn from each other.

But how does observational learning (or lack thereof), impact workplaces? This blog unpacks the theory and provides insights into how it can support the businesses in creating a stella workplace culture to in turn reduce attrition and increase productivity.

What Is Social Learning?

Social learning theory suggests individuals learn through observed behaviour within various social contexts. It also proposes ditching traditional or conventional human learning, explaining that almost three quarters of a person’s education is developed within the social dynamic, rather than using ‘text book’ instructive processes.

Where Did Social Learning Theory Come From?

Psychologist Albert Bandura’s research on social learning theory will undoubtedly alter workplace learning and employee collaboration forever. Bandura’s goal has been to illustrate the importance of shifting from scholastic classroom-style learning to more practical, socialised education based on human interaction and observation.

Naturally, we tend to exude both elementary and complex behaviour learnt through watching, listening and our personal actions that have been influenced by those observations.
Most human behaviour we witness on a daily basis has emanated from previous social learning-based experiences at some point.

Harnessing such behaviour within common workplace environments is where Bandura’s social learning theory can be valued the most. Blending collaborative learning platforms, comprehensive training software and real-world interactive education promotes the most positive growth possible for organisations.

Bandura’s Social Learning Theory – 4 Principals of Social Learning

  • Attention – Unique, inventive and highly-original concepts intrigue people to which they are more likely to engage with, focus on and comprehend those concepts more productively.
  • Retention – We need to boost our capability of recalling important information following its ingestion. Humans do this best through the cognitive process and amongst social context.
  • Reproduction – Mental and physical rehearsal following observational learning assists us in reproducing positive behaviour, fresh skills and newfound knowledge when it’s called upon.
  • Motivation – Whether we decide to do, or not do something is influenced by observational motivation and can be affected by a single person’s behaviour. Knowing what to avoid is equally imperative to learning what to imitate from workplace peers.

Social Learning is in part Observational Learning

Continuous reciprocal interaction, observing particular behaviour and a range of other environmental influences all contribute to shaping how and what we learn.

The workplace is no different to a home or school environment. In order for the right behaviours to be learnt positive role models who consistently showcase desirable behaviours and traits will create a social powerhouse for employees.

Bandura’s theory can be applied to the workplace and produce the following:

Guaranteeing continuous employee/hierarchical engagement

Bonding complex team structures – A workplace consisting of compatible, highly-integrative colleagues collectively improves a team’s morale as well as their problem solving, brain-storming and idea-building skills

Streamlining recruitment, upskilling and virtually all other angles of workplace-specific training

Highlighting the advantages of social learning technologies – Demonstrating the importance of practicality through collaborative learning software to help simplify work efforts

Promoting ideas sharing – Many employees feel mildly reserved regarding offering up authentic workplace feedback, suggestions or opinions due to social discomfort.

Adoption – Why the Social Learning Process Matters

According to the Learning Pyramid model, retention of what we learn is not linear but cone-shaped. We retain only 5% of what we learn during a lecture, however, when we introduce more social means, we retain much more.

Knowledge retention is vital for any business.

Seamless integration of social learning schemes fast-tracks new employee orientation, helps people retain what matters and motivates peer groups to succeed in a range of career-related aspects.

 

Social Learning

How To Introduce Social Cognitive Theory Into the Workplace

Build & Maintain Communications Channels

Sharing performance experiences amidst a fun and relaxed group setting can be a direct reinforcement for building workplace social skills. It can solve business-related challenges, eliminate conflict and encourage positive work energy using a safe, non-judgmental sharing space. Companies often use Slack, Microsoft teams or have a Facebook group. Make sure that there are responsible admins that are monitoring this to agreed standards. With Cloud Assess there is a solution called Posts which allows for teams to collaborate and share ideas on any topic a course leader introduces.

Equalising communication between colleagues provides people with a sense of confidence to express issues and recommendations with less reserve.

Incentivise

Learning happens by observing behaviour and its consequences. Implementing gamified tasks with a rewards system physically allows employees to observe what they’ll either ‘earn’ or miss out on based on their own participation levels or other decisions. This creates a fundamental ‘standard’ for desirable behaviours. Incentives can be as small as a digital badge to display when you achieve a piece of microlearning through to earning a day off for implementing a piece of learning and or sharing your knowledge or skill with a team member.

Trial a Workplace Forum

Alongside the informal channels for communication trial a more formal forum that requires consistent engagement. Social learning culture derives from positive collaboration through simple and safe means of communication.

Set up a forum where employees can easily query teammates or access the information they need, leading to a heightened sense of synergy throughout the company.

People need to feel as though their verbal and physical input is welcomed and that they are in fact, on the same wavelength regarding getting things done. Depending on your operations, sometimes offering virtual channels is the way forward.

Assemble an In-House Coaching Community

Industry professionals are loaded with expert knowledge, most of which likely can’t be onboarded through traditional learning systems. Successful social learning requires people from all titles, backgrounds and skill levels to come together and work efficiently towards organisational goals.

Put together a well-defined in-house community of strategically selected employees from all departments as a go-to team of elites with scheduled Q&A sessions. Reconfiguring a workplace to nurture productive and positive communication could be the driving force it’s been searching for in enhancing overall collaborative efforts.

New To Social Learning Theory?

Social frameworks are the future.

Thriving workplaces are created through passion, motivation and progressive learning structures that need to be relevant and inspire people to advance themselves.

Launching social learning technologically and culturally in a business environment is no longer optional, but rather a long-anticipated must-have for next-level employee development and recruitment!

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