Integrative Improvement Blog

The integrative improvement blog discusses and provides commentary on the latest topics in the business performance improvement sector.

Microlearning: the bite-sized approach to upskilling your front line

Microlearning: the bite-sized approach to upskilling your front line

So, your transformation journey is underway and you’re embracing next-gen technologies, but what are you doing to bring your front-line employees into the future? Overwhelming them with knowledge in advance no longer works. These days, employees need to get into the driver’s seat themselves and develop the skills necessary to find and retrieve knowledge, as needed, in a fast-paced and changing workplace environment. One of the most effective ways to help them is through microlearning.

We all know an organisation is only as good as its employees. So what happens when workers aren’t equipped to make the right decisions or exhibit the wrong behaviours? For starters, product quality and throughput suffer, and safety incidents will undoubtedly occur. These are mistakes your organisation can ill afford to make.

Even the smallest change can dramatically disrupt daily routines, causing a ripple effect that extends across the enterprise right down to the shop floor. And when front-line employees can’t keep up with your organisation’s transformation efforts, they develop knowledge and skills gaps that impede productivity and safety, and ultimately hurt your bottom line.

Whether they cause injuries or bottlenecks, mistakes often occur when employees are demonstrating the wrong behaviours. The good news is that behaviour can be corrected if the right knowledge is ingrained or accessible when and where your front-line employees need it. This leads to improvements in on-the-job performance and empowers employees to make the right decisions in situations that matter most to your business.

The most common approach to training new operators is through on-the-line shadowing. Unfortunately, this not only presents scheduling and overstaffing challenges, but the opportunity to learn is limited to the scenarios that occur during the shadow period. What’s more, according to a recent manufacturing training survey published by Poka and Industry Week, more than half of the companies surveyed devote less than two hours per month to ongoing skills development.

In-the-flow training

So how do you close this knowledge gap and provide targeted information – like operating instructions for new machinery – to your front line exactly when they need it? The answer is microlearning. At a time when the average attention span continues to drop, and learning behaviours are changing faster than ever, the nature of training is transforming from long lectures to bite-sized learning exercises, known as microlearning. (See the blog, Why CI leaders must embrace new learning organisation training to find out more about new learning technologies.)

Microlearning is training that consists of a small chunk of learning that ideally takes less than five minutes to consume and is focused on one performance objective. It is typically optimised for mobile learning and supports continuous improvement initiatives. To be effective, microlearning must fit into the employee’s daily workflow, engage voluntary participation, adapt continuously to ingrain the knowledge employees need to be successful, and ultimately drive behaviours that impact specific business results.

For example, one employee may require training on a new piece of equipment, while another may fail to consistently follow safe work practices (despite receiving compliance training). Instead of subjecting both employees to the exact same training, microlearning delivers personalised information tailored to address each individual’s knowledge gaps over time. So the first employee may receive instructional videos related to the new piece of equipment, and the second may receive content designed to alter unsafe behaviour.

Historically, factory floor workers have been isolated from many of the benefits and efficiency gains of digital processes. But by arming them with the latest policies, procedures and practices through microlearning, they will instantly start excelling at their jobs. And over time, this allows you to increase productivity and decrease downtime – bringing you one step closer to manufacturing excellence.

DOWNLOAD the infographic 9 keys to unlock sustainable transformation to help inform your improvement journey and ensure sustainable transformation.


The TRACC framework helps organisations build standardised and integrated good practice and performance capacity across their Plan, Source, Make and Deliver functions. Simultaneously it accelerates their collaboration and alignment capacity to build world class end-to-end value chains, enabling the organisation itself to become the ultimate source of sustainable competitive advantage.


Receive regular blog updates straight to your inbox