Henri Barbusse, a French novelist from the late 19th century said, “People are machines of forgetfulness.” Around that same time, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus coined the term “the forgetting curve,” referring to how knowledge retention declines over time. More than 100 years later, various studies have proven these theories correct. In fact, more recent research suggests that people may forget 50% of what they within one hour, 80% of what they learn after two days, and potentially 90% of what they learn after 31 days.
5 Ways to Improve Knowledge Retention in Your Employee Training Programs
In your personal life, forgetfulness is annoying. A lack of knowledge retention in your employee training program, is dangerous. Here are a few ways to improve it in your organization:
Shift your thinking. Training is an ongoing process, not an event. If you approach training topics as a one-time conversation with employees, the result will be poor knowledge retention. Training, in some fashion or another, must be an everyday occurrence.
Prioritize refresher training topics. Some topics require more frequent refresher training than others. Hard skills related to tasks are naturally reinforced through day-to-day repetition. Soft skills related to attitudes and behaviors require more structured reinforcement. Use online refresher courses delivered at least one a year for topics such as harassment prevention, safety, and compliance.
Meet learners where they are. Training adult learners requires you to provide context and delivery in a way that resonates with multiple learning styles. You’ll improve knowledge retention when your employees can relate their training to their real-life job experiences.
Repeat yourself with blended training options. When it comes to employee training, not only is it okay to repeat yourself, it’s necessary! Relay important training messages in different ways through blended training approaches.
Practice what you preach. When employees see you continually reinforcing what they’ve learned in their training through your own behavior, they’ll be more likely to implement the training regularly and correctly. When you lead by example, you’ll naturally improve knowledge retention.