Workforce studies have found that only 30 percent of essential job skills and knowledge are learned via formal training–generally in a classroom setting–with 70 percent gained informally through exchanges with co-workers, most often by swapping experiential stories). Now a report in Chief Learning Officer posits that “smart companies” are fostering informal learning; the author includes in that category such activities as reading books and participating in self-study programs, coaching, practice groups, expert communities and social media.
“In all of these examples,” writes Harry West, “the employee is learning from another person and not training materials and they are participating in learning rather than just receiving information. Indeed, some experts estimate that 80 percent of learning is informal and takes place on the job. For a specific metric to gauge its success, employee engagement is a useful measure and can be found with social feedback mechanisms. Among the benefits of informal learning are increased innovation, productivity, and knowledge transfer.”