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6 Microlearning Must Haves to Improve Training Impact for Frontline Workers

Zac Francis
Zac Francis

Today’s learners are characterized by their positive response to engaging bite-sized content. The rise of social media and the widespread use of smartphones has shaped how we process information, and businesses must account for this when training their frontline workforce.

Microlearning is a learning method tailored for the modern worker, delivering short bursts of information in an engaging way to increase knowledge retention. With a plethora of benefits (more on this later!), microlearning usage has increased by 700% since 2020 and is now viewed as a necessity by many industry leaders.

But simply adopting microlearning is not enough, businesses must optimize it through the use of best microlearning practices.

Keep reading to find out the benefits of microlearning and what steps you can take to harness its power best.

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The benefits of microlearning

Before investing in microlearning, you’ll want to know more about it. We’ve already told you it’s good, but how good? In what ways will it optimize my employee training and benefit the business? 

The list of microlearning benefits is a long one. Instead, we’re highlighting those most relevant for training a frontline workforce.

Boosts engagement

An engaged workforce is 21% more profitable, 59% less likely to churn, and report higher levels of job satisfaction and productivity. In short, engaging content is the foundation of any successful training program.

Microlearning replicates the way we addictively consume content daily via social media. It’s therefore no surprise that it boosts engagement, and 50% of employees say they would better utilize their company’s training tools if the content was shorter.

Increases knowledge retention

Knowledge retention results from effective employee training, and microlearning is a proven way to ensure your employees absorb as much information as possible the first time around. In fact, microlearning improves focus and increases long-term retention by up to 80%.

It’s no secret that the more knowledgeable your workforce is, the better positioned they are to deliver an outstanding service to customers, operate safer and to a higher standard.


Before investing in anything, businesses must factor in cost. The good news is that microlearning is cost-effective

By delivering content in bite-sized chunks, microlearning reduces development and delivery costs typically associated with traditional training programs. It requires minimal resources for creation, such as decreased instructor time, fewer materials, and a streamlined development process. And microlearning’s flexible nature means it can be easily adapted to meet evolving training needs at minimal cost. 

All of this while having a positive impact on employee performance.

When to use microlearning vs. when to avoid it

It’s important to note that while microlearning is an effective tool, it’s not a panacea. There are circumstances when it will positively impact your workforce, and times when a more traditional training format is required.

That’s why we don’t recommend microlearning as a complete replacement for in-person training. Utilizing both at optimal times is the best way to effectively train your workforce.

Below are just some examples of when you should use microlearning, and when other options should be explored.

Avoid microlearning: For complex concepts

Complex problems aren’t usually solved using simple, bite-sized information. A linear, step-by-step guide doesn’t account for interconnected concepts and is sometimes problematic for learners who require an understanding of the whole process rather than the specific functions of individual parts.

Use microlearning: To reinforce material from in-person training

Reserve the in-person, or instructor-led sessions for denser material. Maybe you want to upskill your workforce on life skills, like financial literacy. 

You would use microlearning to reinforce the material with, for example, a quiz on how to avoid scams. This reinforcement is necessary to commit knowledge to long-term memory.

Use microlearning: When introducing a topic

We strongly encourage the use of microlearning following in-person training, but it’s perfect as a  prequel to in-person training too. When you onboard a new employee, you’ll probably need to conduct some in-person training. 

But, you can prime them for this in-person experience by sharing an interactive 3D tour of their workplace ahead of their first day on the job.

Use microlearning: For in-the-moment learning needs

Sometimes workers need immediate answers in the flow of work. Maybe your in-store returns process has changed and a retail associate needs to know how it’s now different.  

Microlearning can be accessed in their time-of-need, and the relevant information is easily digestible making for a seamless problem-solving experience.

Use microlearning: For 'How Tos'

Microlearning is ideal for simple, step-based, ‘How To’ content. For example, you launch a new delivery option for your customers and need to upskill your delivery personnel so they can start delivering orders in this new way

Or, it could be showing a retail associate in a pet store how to clean a fish tank. These are skills that can be taught using a step-by-step process, with some reinforcement later on if necessary.

How to boost the impact of microlearning for your frontline workers

Ok, so we’ve established why you might be interested in microlearning, and the ideal (vs. not-so-ideal) occasions where its use proves most effective.

The next step is to optimize the impact of your microlearning, by employing some of the following best practices.

Below are some of our favorite microlearning success strategies.

1. Make learning as active as possible

Even learning that is shorter and simpler can fail to engage your learner, if the experience is passive.

Passive learning is where nothing is required from the learner but their presence - it’s attending a talk, listening to a podcast, reading a book. 

Microlearning, by way of design, possesses a greater capacity to provide your learner with an active learning experience than modalities like face-to-face training. This means that typically, at some point in a microlearning course, your learner will be blocked from reaching the endpoint without having to interact with the content to move forward.  

By adding these ‘nets’ of interactivity throughout a module - this could be an assessment with a minimum pass/fail score, or a simulated scenario where the correct response must be chosen to progress -  you ensure a learner is never cruising through material on autopilot. Their attention is a prerequisite to proceed.

2. Leverage vertical video

We know workers want bite-sized content, but what does that look like specifically? For most, the answer is video. 

Look at social media today and you’ll find an endless supply of short video clips dominating our feed. Social media giants Facebook and Instagram have transformed in recent years to become almost exclusively video-sharing platforms, and video makes up 80% of all internet traffic.

Visual information engages both the visual and audio parts of our brains, priming us for increased knowledge retention. In fact, employees were 95% more likely to retain information presented via video vs 10% when they were required to read the same information.

Businesses can optimize their training by utilizing short-form video content to engage their employees. When using video, full-screen vertical video with minimal text overlaid is best (think of Instagram’s ‘stories’ format). 

Hotel Guide GIF (1)

Use content that feels like their ‘5 to 9’ - i.e. their leisure time spent on their favorite apps - to immerse your frontline workers in training, and reap the rewards in terms of engagement.

3. Utilize UGC

The power of user-generated content isn’t to be underestimated - it's the linchpin of apps like TikTok, which uncoincidentally was the second most popular app in the world last year by number of downloads (of which it amassed more than 600 million). 

Seeing people like us doing things we’re interested in, want to know, or are entertained by, captures and holds attention to the fullest degree. Employee training is no different.

Imagine two versions of a lesson on conflict resolution. In one version, a stock video of a customer arguing with an employee is used. In the second, two employees that you work with act out a role-play where one is an agitated customer, and the second the peace-maker.

Which one would you be more likely to pay attention to - the version in which your colleagues co-star, or the stock video? (Hint: one version triggers novelty and relatability, one does not).

A great story triggers the subtle emotional centers of our brains so we can care enough to keep going. Novelty triggers surprise, delight, fascination. Tension triggers anxiety, curiosity, cravings. Relatability triggers empathy, nostalgia, happiness. And when you weave those things in combination, you can string together a longer attention span.”


- Humans Have Massive Capacity For Sustained Attention, And Storytelling Unlocks It

Our top tip? Involve your people. You get to leverage their expertise (which they’ll appreciate), and maximize attention from other employees.

4. One idea per module

Don’t try to cram or cover too much in one go - microlearning is designed so that you can easily employ a learning science principle known as ‘Segmenting’ (one of Mayer’s 12 principles for driving effective learning),. 

Segmenting is when material is ‘chunked’, or broken down, to provide breaks for the learner in between continuous pieces of content. Like a ‘next’ button within a lesson, or end of a lesson screen in a course.

If you want to teach warehouse operatives about forklift operation, instead of having a lesson that covers everything from types of forklifts to forklift maintenance, break it down - create a course. Make your first lesson about forklift types, your second on how to operate the forklift, lesson three on forklift limitations and capacity, and so on.  

To boost learning outcomes even further, make sure the media contained within is also broken down. Earlier, we recommended using video, but not all videos are created equal. 

It would be far more effective to show a warehouse operative a series of looping videos on operating a forklift with text instructions overlaid, where the next instruction in the sequence only appears when the learner taps the screen, than it would be to show them a single, continuous, multi-minute video on how to operate the machinery.

In 10 out of 10 experimental tests, people learn better when information is presented in learner-paced segments than as a continuous unit. 


- Dr. Richard Mayer

And if you do use a multi-minute video... Prepare for learners to spend an additional few minutes finding and replaying snippets to make sure they get the steps right. 

By applying the Segmenting principle, you avoid cognitive overload, a situation where your learners’ capacity for taking on board new information is overwhelmed, while also improving learners’ chance of remembering the information they have consumed. 

So make sure you properly break down and order your information!

5. Finetune the ratio of text to media

With text in microlearning, the less the better. If you’re thinking ‘it’s simply not possible to make this lesson more concise than it is right now’, don’t worry, you’re probably ok (and we definitely don’t advise forcing the word count down to the detriment of learning objectives).

However, something to keep in mind is the relative ‘heaviness’ of text compared to other elements in the lesson - i.e. the ratio of text vs. media vs. interactive elements like a quiz. 

Keep slides text light - if a slide is 60+% text, then integration of a quiz, GIF or video is advised.

In other words, do not do the below:

Untitled design-122

Balance is key!

6. Embed microlearning into your existing tools and workflow

Effectively training a frontline workforce comes with challenges. They’re hard to reach, always on the move, and working a variety of shift patterns, making it difficult to roll out standardized training. Adopting microlearning is great, but its benefits are redundant if your workers can’t access it.

The solution is to integrate microlearning into the flows frontline workers are already utilizing. 

This could be embedding training into a worklet within the Workday mobile app, or sharing it in a Microsoft Teams chat (we support both, by the way!). The key is making it easy for workers to access relevant information when they need it most. 

And the opportunity for most is already within arm’s reach. Our proprietary research found that though 89% of business leaders have frontline employees who access a HCM daily, for 62% employee training exists as a standalone app, disconnected from any other software.

Ultimately, the most impactful microlearning is that which uncomplicates entry to it. Training needs to be a destination that is easy to arrive at to have any impact at all. And, even better if access to it is so intuitive that you don’t find yourself losing hours sending reminders, chasing individuals or repeating explanations about how to get into the microlearning platform in the first place.

eduMe is the platform of choice for your frontline workforce. By seamlessly integrating into existing technology (like your HCM - Workday or other) while harnessing the power of microlearning, we make it easy for frontline workers to access engaging training in their time of need, at just the click of a button.

We have partnered with industry-leading companies like Uber and PetSupermarket to transform their employee training and produce tangible results.

Get in touch with us for a 121 consultation about your situation and how we can help. Not ready to speak to anyone? Watch this 5 minute product demo for a brief overview instead.