Micro-learning has the potential to transform the way companies do their safety and regulatory compliance training -- and save hundreds-of-thousands, even millions of dollars in the process.

Safety training has typically been an “event-oriented” activity. Employees go to a class, or take a computer-based course in a learning lab or at their desk. However they do their training, it takes them away from their normal work activity, resulting in hours of lost productivity. And the impact of that lost productivity can be huge.

Traditional training problems

At the same time, traditional training methods often don’t do a good job of addressing the three greatest training challenges facing companies today: 1) getting training to employees when and where they can take it; 2) keeping them engaged in the training process; and 3) getting the information to “stick,” so that it’s there when the employees need it.

Classroom-based training can be particularly inefficient. Finding a time when employees can all conveniently get together can be difficult at best. Inevitably someone is sick or has an “emergency” and misses the meeting, and you’re faced with figuring out how they can “make up” the class. And second and third shift employees can be left out as well.

Existing online courses can solve some of these problems, but still take employees away from their jobs for 45-60 minutes at a time, disrupting their workday. And many employees don’t have easy access to computers (a recent Forbes magazine survey found that 84% of American workers have jobs where they don’t “sit behind a desk”).

Zoning out

Once you do have an employee’s attention, keeping them engaged with their training can still be problematic. Interruptions, distractions, and people’s short attention spans all work against the process. It’s said that after the first 10 minutes of a training session most employees will have “zoned out”, and won’t get much of the information that is presented after that. Even if you overcome these obstacles, studies show that people forget up to 80% of what they’ve “learned” within three weeks after attending a training session. 


Micro-learning changes all of this. Courses are typically 3-5 minutes long, the optimal length for information retention. And while micro-courses can be taken on any device, including desktops, laptops and tablets, they are specifically designed to also be delivered to a smart-phone so that employees can access the courses wherever they happen to be.

Micro-learning systems are set up to allow employees themselves to control when they take their training, so it can be at a time in their day when it is convenient and won’t impact their productivity. And more than 50% of employees say that they would use their company’s e-learning courses more often if the courses were shorter and more accessible.

A good micro-learning course should be “self-contained,” not relying on any previous knowledge that the employee may (or may not) have. But to fulfill training requirements that require more than 3-5 minutes of information, such as those that are included in many OSHA regulations, micro-courses can be organized into curricula. By completing all of the courses in a curriculum an employee can meet the entire training requirement.