In November, HR Dive reviewed the amount of money and time companies put into employee learning and development programs. The average company is spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,100 annually per employee, although reports on this vary widely due to a number of factors.
Company size, complexity of learning content, learner career level and the availability of internal vs. external learning management systems often come in to play. But according to Brandon Hall Group’s 2016 Training Benchmarking Study, US companies are spending between $270,000 to $13 million each year on training employees. That’s a large budget for any company to manage.
Putting employee training to the task
The key to successful employee development is retention of newfound knowledge that can be immediately applied to on-the-job performance. If there is a breakdown in this process, and employees quickly forget what they’ve learned, then it’s useless to spend so much effort on training.
Washington University professor Henry Roediger has pioneered scientific research in this area. His book ‘Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning’ outlines evidence for the idea that learners who are forced to recall new information immediately in the days after they’ve been trained are much more likely to retain that information over the long term.
Scientific evidence, therefore, points directly to the effectiveness of training assessments, job observation and performance reviews — so long as they are done within hours and days of the training taking place. The longer employees move on without the need to recall and use new knowledge, the greater the chance that they will lose it.
'Jeopardy!' winner Jennings helps create a solution
In the battle to support workforce learning retention, Bridge by Instructure, a LMS provider in the Salt Lake City area, has announced the launch of a new tool to empower company leaders and support greater training retention. Called Bridge Retain, this new offering was developed in partnership with 74-time winner of 'Jeopardy!' Ken Jennings.
Bridge Retain provides learners with quick check-ins to actively help them recall training information and commit new concepts to long term memory. Reporting modules give administrators insight into employee progress. Pre-built and customizable assessments can be added to any course. Matt Bingham, a VA at Bridge, said in a statement that, “Training will only have a meaningful impact on the business when employees are able to hold on to that knowledge.”
As part of its roll-out of Retain, the Bridge team surveyed more than 1,000 mid-level employees in the U.S. to determine current trends in learning and development, productivity and training. The more interesting findings of this survey included:
- 78% of employees participate in corporate training quarterly or less per year.
- 72% said they would benefit from getting emails about the topics covered in their company trainings.
- On average, employees spend 5,850 hours a year looking up information that’s already been covered in training.
- Only 9% of employees find employee handbooks helpful, in contrast to the 47% who use calendar reminders and 46% who use Post-It Notes to remember information.
What can employers do to get more from their employee training initiatives?
In the quest to help employees retain more information during and after corporate training, there are some steps that should be followed. This list should be included as part of a well-rounded training program to maximize ROI.
#1 – Make the training relevant. If employees are to put their new knowledge to work, then it must be directly related to their tasks and processes. Get as much information about their job in advance of the training to determine this suitability. Ditch modules that are outdated and not immediately useful to employees.
#2 – Create learning centered on retention. Present new concepts in small snippets and use recall activities to help them sink in to the minds of employees. Brief videos and online training modules, followed by simulations, classroom role-playing and short quizzes, can be very effective. Inject fun and humor into learning to make it more memorable.
#3 – Establish a clear set of expectations. All employee training needs to tie directly to employee performance, otherwise it’s wasted money. Create written learning and performance paths for each employee based on his or her abilities, expressions of career direction and expected advancement in each role. Recognize employees along the way for participating, and reward high achievers.
#4 – Make learning a core corporate value. When learning is supported by all levels of an organization, it becomes more natural for employees to participate. Challenge employees to learn new things and recall them during future training sessions, on the job and in the presence of clients. Remind them that learning is one of the bigger perks they have and is to be a shared experience with peers.