Learning retention is really about achieving a return on the time, money and effort invested into training employees. It also represents one of the biggest challenges to L&D professionals, because proving that ROI – that there has been actual knowledge transfer, can be difficult.

The average person’s attention span is incredibly short and most people will forget half of what they’ve heard in training by the next day – unless there is follow up and learning reinforcement.

Why do we forget so much so quickly?

Modern lifestyles are busy and demanding. There is the mentality of being always on and always connected. Unfortunately the downside of this connectedness is that people’s minds are being constantly bombarded with information and we struggle to retain what is relevant to us. The end result is that most of the time our minds switch off, choosing instead to not remember, even if it’s important.

Even though this is a generally accepted norm, it still represents a challenge for organizations. How do they upskill their workforce if training isn’t retained and doesn’t achieve any behavioural changes? How can they ensure that the money invested in training achieves a decent return and that learning is being applied in the workplace?

Do things differently

Traditional forms of learning are not enough. Learning needs to be exciting, memorable and sticky. Here are six keys to doing things differently that can help achieve better learning retention.

1 – Target learning through accurate data

Making learning specific to a team, situation, company or industry is the first step to achieving better learning retention. When learning is relevant to the circumstances and challenges that people are experiencing then they are far more likely to pay attention. Speech analytics is a tool that can help generate the data needed to accurately identify learning needs. Managers can build on this information by consulting with their teams and taking the time to understand where staff members may be coming unstuck. These can then be used as examples in training to highlight specific issues and solutions.

2 – Take a blended learning approach

No one learns in the same way. Some people respond better to seeing and doing than just to hearing. A blended approach to learning seeks to engage with learners so that they are actively involved with the learning process rather than just being passive observers. A blended learning approach incorporates digital technology, face to face engagement, group discussions and peer mentoring as well as theoretical knowledge and skills testing. The multifaceted approach of blended learning makes it more memorable which achieves better learning retention.

3 – Incorporate coaching and mentoring

Even if learning and development is not a team manager’s primary responsibility they still have a very important role to play in developing the skills of their staff. Research shows that when managers engage with team members prior to learning, helping them understand the purpose of it and expected outcomes, then learners are more engaged. Additionally when managers make themselves available after training, taking on the role of coach or mentor, it helps to reinforce learning and transfer the skills learnt so that they are actively applied into daily activities.

4 – Leverage Technology

There no question that implementing learning retention practices takes time and effort. But the pressure on managers can be alleviated by leveraging digital technology. Learning Management Systems can be used to keep track of learning progress and provide a knowledge bank where learners can easily reference information as it’s needed. Leveraging technology may also extend to incorporating mobile apps so that learners can engage in ‘learning-on-the-go’ using the time while they are commuting or waiting around to complete learning modules. The more accessible learning is made, the more likely people will participate in it.

5 – Bite sized follow-up and testing

One of the ways in which technology is very effective in supporting learning retention is in the follow up process. For example: Errol Owl is Ember Real Results Online Learning tool – a system that sends learners daily emails reinforcing learning and testing them on their knowledge. This bite sized approach requires little effort and doing that little bit of learning every day goes a long way to ensuring knowledge transfer. For a quick intro video to Errol Owl click here.

6 – Give feedback

An important element of encouraging learning is to provide feedback to learners on how they are doing. People are encouraged to continue learning when they see that they are making progress and even more so when it is done in a social context – through both collaboration and friendly competition.  This can be easily achieved with a Learning Management System that provides analytics. By providing a report, managers can see progress at a glance.

To find out more about learning retention and how Errol Owl can help your organisation achieve a better ROI on your L&D budget contact Ember Real Results today.