Leveraging Storytelling And Informal Learning In The Workplace
Structured curricula and formal training programs approach corporate learning and upskilling systematically, which is why they are extremely popular in the professional sphere. Certainly, they are a powerful solution to keeping up with demand, industry trends, and market fluctuations but, depending on the use case, they may also come with limitations. If your HR or L&D department recognizes the challenges that accompany traditional training programs, they may be looking for some alternative solutions. That’s where informal learning comes in. In this article, we’ll discuss how your organization can combine storytelling and informal learning to create engaging and fresh training content to keep their staff up-to-date and upskilled.
The Value Of Informal Learning In Corporate Contexts
A few decades ago, no one could think that informal learning would find a place in a corporate environment. As L&D leaders continue to search, review, and devise innovative methods to cultivate and promote diverse and high-demand skill sets, formal training is still the way to go for many companies. Training departments continue to invest thousands per year to design, create, and deliver structured training content to their staff. And that’s not a bad thing! However, building a dynamic and versatile team requires more than a yearly training session to ensure that their employees have those diversified and sought-after skills they so wish to find in their workforce.
Informal training refers to the process of acquiring knowledge and skills through regular interaction and collaboration with co-workers, even if that’s done in a casual, everyday manner. Observations, experiences, and knowledge sharing between colleagues can actually provide the means to nurture many different types of skills that are extremely popular in many industries. Moreover, as far as company culture is concerned, it’s a great way to foster an environment focused on continuous learning and growth. It also encourages flexibility and adaptability, as knowledge is freely dispersed between team members. Sometimes, you may come across a piece of vital information to help you finish a task while you’re having lunch with your co-worker. Lastly, informal learning can help with engagement and employee satisfaction metrics; training becomes an enjoyable process that doesn’t lead to stretched-thin attention spans.
Storytelling As An L&D Drive
As far as informal learning goes, even asking an expert to have a casual chat with your staff can help you cover your bases. However, the idea behind implementing a training initiative that centers on informal learning is to make it enjoyable, interesting, and engaging for your employees. Any training program requires setting goals that bring tangible results, after all. To successfully incorporate informal learning in your L&D program, you can combine it with storytelling. Every story has something to teach us. L&D leaders are turning more and more toward storytelling and devising creative ways to leverage it in the workplace. No matter the type of training, whether formal or informal, the learning material shouldn’t form a dry, never-ending mass of information.
Thus, storytelling can provide an extra kick in elevating your initiative. If you go through the trouble of creating an environment where informal learning can thrive, take things a step further by bringing in storytelling. Telling stories fosters creative, innovative thinking and promotes a solution-oriented mindset. Even if you’re aiming for a grassroots/101 approach to training through informal learning, you can begin experimenting with different storytelling ideas and different methods. Create your L&D program based on a company-specific narrative, or ask your employees to devise their own narratives for completing this experimental training strategy. Just make it interesting.
Ideas That Combine Storytelling And Informal Learning For Your L&D Program
Using storytelling can help promote learning in more informal contexts; this allows for optimal outcomes as learning becomes something more than a mandatory task. It can also make formal settings seem more informal by creating spaces for open, casual communication, and collaboration. To fully utilize the power of storytelling and informal learning, you can use one or more of our tips to construct a winning L&D strategy that feels innovative and brand-new.
1. In-House Subject Matter Experts
Your people are your best assets. Among your workforce, you can probably find more than one Subject Matter Expert. Whether they’re experts on industry-related matters or they have an interesting academic/professional background, it matters not. Your in-house experts can provide excellent resources to elevate your L&D initiative. Consult them and recruit them for their help. Together, you can compile stories, organize thematic, niche-specific events, or simply navigate the waters of informal training programs.
Newsletters are useful in compressing information into crisp, digestible chunks. They are direct and can cover an extremely broad spectrum of themes. Depending on the workload, your newsletter can be a weekly, monthly, or quarterly compilation of the latest company news, industry trends, or emerging hot topics in your sector. You can include interesting facts, playlists, and recommendations for podcasts—the possibilities are endless.
To fully leverage your newsletter, you may accompany it with a calendar that details upcoming occasions or milestones your employees need to keep an eye on. Newsletters generally promote knowledge sharing and make room for creative expression due to their versatility and adaptability. Choose a company newsletter team to run things or, even better, have a team rotation every few months.
3. Job Rotation
Is there a role in the company that you’ve always wanted to try or learn more about? Job rotation can help employees switch things up from their usual routine by briefly relocating to another department. They can receive a basic 101 training presentation that leverages storytelling or allegories and similes to make the content more digestible. The host department can collaboratively create a zine detailing a key outline of their duties or use stories to explain how they came to be in their current position. If the role is too specialized, your temporary transfer can also gather resources on how to get started in their desired field. This can be the boost they need to get started on something new.
4. Building Content Libraries
Content libraries operate as knowledge-dispersion hubs, making them extremely well-loved in eLearning circles. You can use these libraries to compile testimonies focused on met targets, employee experience, and organizational growth. Each employee can use this library to share their experiences and expertise with the rest of the team members. Alternatively, they can collectively create a company diary that recounts milestones, achievements, and challenges the company has overcome. They can also utilize them as knowledge-sharing platforms where they can upload interesting reads on industry-specific advancements and emerging trends, or as publishing platforms where they can create and share original, niche-specific content.
Combining informal learning with storytelling offers immense potential to any L&D initiative. Both storytelling and informal learning allow for training that feels fresh and engaging, instead of mandatory and dull. Now, how you choose to incorporate these techniques into your training program needs expert handling. With the tips and ideas mentioned in this article, you can gather some inspiration and start building a winning L&D strategy that cultivates staff engagement and an upskilled, diversified workforce. If you’d like storytelling to be the main focus of your curriculum, you can check out the Top Content Providers For Immersive Learning to find an expert that will help your company tell its story.