Hybrid Work Environments are Here to Stay: How Social Learning Can Make The Best of Them

Employee Training

Social learning is key to the new hybrid work environment, here's why companies are adopting it and how you can deploy it at your company.

Social learning applies the concepts of common sense and real-life application to learning. Just-in-time learning through interaction with coworkers and on-the-job skill building is essential to modern learning initiatives. Psychologist Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory states that people learn behavior from their environment through observation, imitation, and modeling.

The 70:20:10 model suggests that 20% of learning is achieved through peer interactions at work, and is expected to grow as traditional learning methods decline in a remote work world. 

Why are companies shifting to social learning?

Knowledge retention is at the top of the list when it comes to training goals and KPIs, the ugly truth is that 90% of information taught in a traditional learning environment is forgotten within 72 hours. Without initiatives that help employees retain their training in an intuitive way, this problem persists and leads to diluted training ROI, high employee turnover,  and unfavorable business outcomes. This is why companies are recognizing the importance of social learning and applying it to their learning strategies. Similar to when you get a recommendation for a new song from a friend, you check it out - when you learn from your peers, you’re more likely to remember it. 

Whether it’s through a learning tool like an LMS or a social workplace platform, companies can add social learning to the mix to ensure their retention rates skyrocket. When employees interact with their peers, asking questions and getting instruction on work tasks or processes, this not only benefits the learner who is receiving a personalized explanation of the task at hand, but it also benefits the coworker who is doing the teaching. Studies show that better understanding is achieved when you are teaching someone something, this is called the Protégé Effect. It not only helps the teacher recall information but it also reveals their own knowledge gaps and allows them to ask questions for better understanding.

Why you should adopt social learning at your company

Here are 4 reasons why you should adopt social learning at your company:

  1. Faster ramp-up time for learning. For most new employees, it can take about 6 months before they’re fully productive and comfortable in their position. Immersing your learners in a social learning environment allows them to understand key information faster. They will be more comfortable asking questions to their peers that they may not have felt comfortable asking at their formal onboarding sessions. Additionally, they’re receiving real-life explanations in terms they understand for on-the-job information. 
  2. Increased Employee Retention. When new employees are immersed in learning by coworkers and on-the-job skill building they’re able to more quickly form workplace connections which can help with employee retention, job satisfaction, and the feeling of inclusion. These are the relationships that have been disrupted most by the transition to hybrid environments. Social learning provides opportunities to establish, deepen, and nurture these once-common interactions. 
  3. Improved Retention Rates. According to IBM, social learning effectively reverses the learning curve that occurs in a typical training environment. Research shows that retention rates as high as 70% can be achieved with social learning.
  4. Offset Training Costs. When traditional classroom training is no longer the sole source of training, it not only relieves trainer time allocation, it also saves on training budgets. The average spend on employee training is $1,273, this can include: instructor salary, travel, food, housing, training facilities, materials, and technology. By deploying social learning where employees can access training 24/7 without having to fly or drive to a training location it can greatly reduce these added expenses.

How to deploy social learning at your company

There are several methods you can use to deploy social learning at your organization. The key to social learning is communication and easy access to information. Since more and more companies are remote these days, it’s important to provide your employees with effective means of communication. Email can only go so far, that’s why using quick-response tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and intranets are a step in the right direction. Some companies build their own organization wikis, departmental forums, or use other online tools with chat features and organizational knowledge publishing features.  

But how do you get the conversation started? In social learning theory, motivation and reward is the key to learning. This can be done through internal reward, the feeling of completing a task, or the feeling of fully grasping information. However, that’s only half the battle… adding gamification principles to social learning can spur these conversations as well. Incorporating competition through leaderboards and other rewards can get people talking. Most importantly, it has to be easy - intuitive to engage and delightful to use. Once these habits are formed, social learning will become organic and natural to your companies’ learning culture.



We believe that knowledge is the fundamental element that drives human growth, and retaining knowledge creates the building blocks to a better world. Everything we do, everything we believe in, is to ensure this happens efficiently and effectively.

Awesome! We can't wait to connect with you.