What is Social Learning Theory & How its Important for Employees at Workplace

Social Learning Theory

What is social learning theory?

Before learning the significance of Social learning theory, it is essential to understand what social learning theory is. It is the blend of the two theories which are

  • Cognitive learning theory, which states that psychological factors influence the learning skills of a human.
  • Behavioral Learning Theory, which is based on the assumption that learning is dependent on reverts to environmental stimuli.

As per social learning theory stated by Albert Bandura, a famous psychologist, learning is based on an integrative approach of 4 elements which are through

social learning theory
  • Observation: paying attention to different things happening nearby. For example, the employee can observe the working and the actions of managers, from as simple as their body language to as stern as their working during business hours.
  • Retention: retaining what you learned from observation which is essential for developing the new learning skills.
  • Reproduction: it’s more about demonstrating what you have learned in the former two steps. You need to execute the same.
  • Motivation: this is more about feeling motivated by the positive outcome of execution in the third step. If not there is a chance of improvement and people tend to apply the same to its desired outcome.

In simple terms, it means the learning, in general, is highly influenced by the surrounding environment, people and their responses in several situations.

For example, if a workplace is quite particular about the code of conduct, it is well exhibited in the organization workings and workers while on the other hand if the organization is quite casual with the conduct, the attitude of the workers is no less different.

Significance of Social learning at workplace for employees:

Improved work skills:

social learning theory

When talking about Social learning, you just can’t compare the quality of learning social elements. When the employees associate their learning with several social elements in workplace and in general, they unveil a whole new extent. Just by sharing several social situations with employees, a managerial team can teach them a lot not only about the conduct in these situations, but also a bunch of other social skills that can help them in every sphere of life.

A workplace is no different, it is more like the place where an employee spends most of his time and hence stumbles upon several situations. These situations have several people associated with them including the employee himself for many a time. Observing the behavior of people and their actions to mend the loss and overcoming the same, can help in developing several behavioral skills.

Unfortunately, the employees can’t learn these behavioral skills in any formal manner unless stumbled upon the situation itself. For example, you can learn a lot about principles of critical thinking and its application in several situations but the business framework is unpredictable, you never know what lies next, thus what you learn from different people in those social situations is what social learning is all about.

Improved interpersonal skills at the workplace:

social learning theory

In the success of any project, Teamwork plays a substantial role. The business house can employ a whole team of experts with extensive knowledge but unless they work together as a team, the ace and the efforts are worthless. Social learning empowers the employees to develop interpersonal skills with each other that are essential for teamwork.

Social learning essentially includes mingling with other employees at the workplace which helps the employees to familiarize themselves with work environment. Verbal persuasion is a significant element of social learning that can help an employee to develop interpersonal skills. Also, these verbal and social skills can help the employees during managerial meetings and presentation. The studies have shown that people with good interpersonal skills have shown a remarkable growth in their career.

Significance of social learning at workplace from an organization point of view

As significant as it is for an employee, the relevance is nothing less for an organization. Here is why social learning is quite significant for organization too:

To unleash the potential:

social learning theory

Most of the business organizations follow a strict conduct with employees. The managerial section doesn’t integrate with employees otherwise. Maintaining the decorum of being on a higher level of the hierarchy is all good but isolating the employees is not at all good. Considering them “not enough” is totally rude. Training program surely guides the employees, but the learning through an integrative session with other employees and top managers can surpass the former.

The business organization should go for social learning to unveil the potential of each employee which may seem impossible at the very beginning but is totally practical and consequential too.

Improved channels of communication:

social learning theory

The importance of effective communication is not unknown. But how can social learning help improve it in the workplace? Effective communication majorly dependant on the structure of the learning, transforming the attributes of learning with social learning is the very act of coming together as a team for a friendlier environment. This helps in achieving the objective of shared vision as it is backed by understanding. Social learning empowers a business house to pull out the organization in whole.


Though the social learning theory is nothing less than an extensive benefactor for business in a longer run, it is essential to understand, it may vary from person to person. The principle of social learning theory is strictly based on observation, the trait which is different in every human being. Also, observation is just not enough, the person should retain it and reproduce the same when needed.

The results may vary but the potential of the theory outweighs the outcomes. It tends to develop a whole new learning in individuals which is simply derived from various situations in nearby surroundings. A business organization should create a friendly environment with an integrative approach in order to stimulate better performances in employees. Active participation from both sides, effective communication, integrative sessions are some of the tools of social learning organization should encourage.

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