A training program can only be considered effective if employees apply the new behaviors or skills they’ve learned in the workplace. Studies have found that up to 90% of new skills are lost within a year and so, by that benchmark, a lot of corporate training is ineffective.
Highly successful programs follow best practices. One of the main ingredients that separates truly effective training from what amounts to corporate busy work is a strategy for getting employees to remember and use their training to the point where it becomes habit. In short, training has to stick. To increase your training’s memorable qualities, you should:
Show the Relevance of Training for Development and Promotion
It’s no mystery: People learn more and retain information better if they are motivated to do so. Part of an employee’s motivation will come from engaging and appealing content. If a person feels the information is useful and it is presented in an interesting way, he or she will pay attention.
An even larger part of motivation, however, is context. People need to know the training they are involved in has a greater purpose. They need to feel not as if it were just another hoop to jump through, but a thoughtful step toward some greater goal. That goal can be personal or professional as long as it is meaningful.
For example, employees care about career development. Frame training as a series of stepping stones toward more responsibility and possible promotion. This will motivate them to pay closer attention and actually apply what they have learned. Another example is keeping employees safe in the workplace. Explain that the company makes it a priority to create everyone safe from harassment, injury, bullying etc. It's in their best interest to make the time for these training topics.
Use Visuals in Your Training
Let’s be honest: Some training topics can be rather abstract, tedious, or downright dull. It pays to spend a little extra time adding visuals to your training materials to give them an extra spark.
When you think about “visuals,” don’t just think charts or PowerPoint templates. Visuals should be used to:
- Tell a story
- Evoke an emotion
- Provide an easy metaphor
- Inject humor or surprise
Not every visual will be able to do all four of these (though that would be fantastic), but each one should accomplish at least one.
Keep in mind that visuals don’t need to be static pictures either (though they can be). Short videos, animations, movement and transitions make for great visuals too.
Summarize Key Points on a Handout
Most people don’t have a photographic memory. Taking notes during a class or video is a fine work-around, but employees might not take good notes—especially if your content is particularly engaging. The next best way to reinforce what you’re teaching is to summarize key points in a handout.
The most effective student materials are short, no more than one or two pages. They often arrange information so it can be understood visually. For example, it may be beneficial to use charts, lists, and diagrams to represent information.
Pro tip: leave some space on your handout where participants can write their own notes. Pose questions to apply the learning points to their real-life work. This gives them the best of both worlds: the ability to note what they find relevant and a clear overview of what you feel are the important point - all without having to constantly write during the presentation.
Reinforce After Training Too
What you do after your training will be critical when it comes to getting your employees to remember, apply, and reapply what they have learned. Keep in mind that, even if they memorize the material you present to them, it will take your employees time to build up the appropriate habits.
Training reinforcement can be scheduled and automated if you have the right technology. Send email notifications with quizzes and video recaps in the days, weeks and months after the training event.
Reward Desired Behavior
Motivation and memory are not just temporary states of mind. The best way to maintain them is through positive reinforcement. Whenever you observe employees using skills and information from their training, give them due recognition. Reward employees who do this consistently over time. Take advantage of routine meetings to review expected behaviors and call out recent examples who met these expectations.
Getting training to stick is an ongoing battle, but knowing a little bit about how the human mind works can go a long way toward helping employees retain and use that information.
Learn more about memory and productivity improvement techniques with a free 15-day trial of our Thinkzoom platform and get the most out of your training efforts.
- If you are planning to update existing training content, this blog will offer more helpful tips: "Fresh Content Matters, Here's Why."
- For more ideas on learning engagement, check out the learning engagement tools from ej4 including our client marketing tool kit and a social learning technology.
- Actively managing your training content is critical. It might be time to retire some courses and reduce the size of your library. Read more in our whitepaper "How Many Courses Do You Really Need?"
- If you decide to look for a training content provider, we have advice to share. Our blog "How to Buy eLearning Content for Your LMS (And Not Regret It Later)" gives you a checklist of other questions to ask.