What’s a ‘Whisper Course’ and why are Google using it to boost employee learning?

According to Google’s blog they were looking for a way to teach thousands of Googlers about team culture. They needed a solution that would make learning stick and one that would encourage employees to put their learning into action.


They decided to use microlearning having read about its effectiveness and ability to improve memory retention. Microlearning is an approach which allows you to deliver your learning content in smaller more digestible chunks. But of course, as always with Google, they had to put their own spin on the classic microlearning method.

Whisper Course

Their approach for microlearning was to create a ‘Whisper Course.’ The theory behind this was that in order for employees to put their learning into action they needed a reminder. Not another class. They would send a series of emails (nudges) to managers to remind them of the tasks that they needed to do in order to put their team culture training into action. These nudges were like a quick whisper into a manager’s ear to remind them, hence the name the ‘Whisper Course’. According to Google over the course of ten weeks, managers built a better culture by trying these whisper suggestions out.

What was in the emails?

The emails would suggest things for managers to say which would create a better workplace culture. For example “I noticed and appreciated the way you [did X]” That’s a really thought-provoking point that you brought up because [X].” Other ‘whisper’ emails included information about how to be more present in meetings, create trust and improve feedback.

Google now uses these whisper courses to support microlearning across a variety of topics in their business. Employees love the fact that whisper courses are task based. This is because when you sit through training you can sometimes leave feeling overwhelmed with information. The whisper course made it easy to carry out small steps to put their learning into action and properly understand the topics which they have just learnt.

How can you implement it?

Google have created a template which you can see here that helps you create your own whisper course.

However, if you have a lot of non-desk workers who don’t have access to email then you would be best using an employee app which gives you an alternative to emails for those workers who aren’t at a desk all day. Oplift allows you to send notifications to employees which will show up on their mobile device even when it’s locked. You can send these as your ‘nudges/whispers’ and link your notification to a news post, article or website. This could be where you explain what your employees need to do next to put their learning into action.

If you are looking for a microlearning solution that staff will use. One that fits in flexibly with their routine. Provides lasting results and fits in realistically with your learning and development budget. Get in touch +44 (0)1273 778289 hi@oplift.io.

Banner photo created by freepik

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 24th April 2019