Benefits of Informal Learning in the Workplace

Blended Learning Management Systems South Africa | Synrgise
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Benefits of Informal Learning in the Workplace

Informal learning refers to self-directed learning. This kind of learning is driven by the learner’s own motivation and curiosity. Here, we look at the differences between formal and informal learning in the workplace and how your business can benefit from an informal learning strategy.

Before discussing how you can leverage on informal learning, we need to unpack the differences between formal and informal learning.

Formal Learning

This is a structured learning path delivered through programs that can be in-classroom (instructor led training) or online.

Formal Learning is based on Training Needs Analysis, where learning outcomes are identified and a specific training course is designed to meet these outcomes. These courses can either be facilitated in the classroom, online, or be a blend of the two.

Developing formal training requires professional expertise and access to a diverse pool of talent. This pool of talent needs to comprise of: instructional designers, subject matter experts, tech experts, etc. This process is costly, and takes time to create and deploy. It also doesn’t allow for learner engagement, as Learning and Development professionals define how the training is delivered, tracked, and consumed.

Informal Learning

Informal learning gives the learner control, allowing them to choose the learning content from a variety of sources, based on their preferences and personal relevance. This content can also be consumed at the learner’s own pace, in their own time.

Informal learning doesn’t have to occur from structured content alone. It can happen any time during the day and includes interactions with seniors, coaches, or colleagues.

Informal learning does not have a specific methodology, something that is associated with formal learning. It also allows learners to satisfy their curiosity and improve their knowledge base, or hone in on existing skill sets. It is spontaneous and can happen any time the learner feels like they need to expand their knowledge base.

A learner who invests in informal learning is a person who is goal-orientated and on the lookout to expand their career, experiment, and consistently learn.

The Benefits of Informal Learning

As kids, we are tuned to informal learning. It is in our formative years that informal learning keeps us mentally active, without even realising that it is happening.

Having this kind of hunger for learning in the workplace keeps your employees ahead of the curve.


Here, we take a look at the benefits of informal learning offers learners:

  • Learning is more focused and driven by the learner.
  • The process of learning is more fulfilling. Employees want autonomy and control, and informal learning offers control of what they are exploring and learning.
  • As opposed to formal learning which is often considered boring, draining, and an effort, informal learning is considered fun, engaging and happens at an employee’s own pace – based on their own interests.
  • Without having to clear a test, get a certain score, and perform, employees find it easier to sift through the content and sustain the momentum of informal learning.

How Informal Learning Can Occur in the Workplace:

Without knowing it, we are consistently learning informally at work – be this over coffee with colleagues, a discussion before a meeting, or a conversation on our lunch break.

Consider the following employee situations as examples of informal learning:

  • Employees discussing how a deal was closed and what was done differently to beat the competition.
  • Employees sharing a best practice that can help others cut down time on a project.
  • Showing a new hire how to use certain online tools.
  • Sharing a newsletter with colleagues.
  • Surfing online for tips to help manage new team members.

Businesses can foster this kind of approach by providing employees with:

  • Semi-structured forums for knowledge share.
  • Curated content.
  • Flexibility for learners to share information.

Informal learning can be blended to support formal learning programs too. You can have post or pre-sessions that have informal learning processes for your employees to exchange ideas, tips, thoughts, and best practices.

Options are divided about which learning strategy is better, but most agree that blending the two styles will significantly create a company culture that promotes learning as a continuum.


Synrgise has spent over a decade engaging with clients on a variety of talent, training, and learning based solutions, from “off the shelf” content to custom learning and talent application development.

With a team that has over 3 decades of hands on experience and exposure to various clients, we offer a personalised talent management solution that works to meet our clients specific end goals.

Synrgise is a world class blended learning and training solution designed to deliver, monitor, and report on training both online and offline.

Synrgise has been built on the foundation of best breed technologies, ensuring an effective learner management solution that is quick to implement, easy to use, and feature packed.

Taking the entire learner experience into account, we have developed an advanced reporting engine that allows our clients to draw their required reports at the simple click of a button.

The entire system has been designed with the user in mind, making for a learning solution that is empowering, motivating, and successful.


Contact us today to learn more about our advanced Talent Management solutions.