4 ways to fix learner engagement & retention
Updated: Feb 22
If your main role is to help your employees grow and develop, your two main training goals in all probability are
To get employees to remember the learning content
To get them to apply what they’ve learnt.
To do this more effectively, it helps to understand what the roadblocks are to not forgetting. This will help incorporate key elements into your programs that help counteract those causes.
Let's take a look at the four most common reasons your corporate learners forget your training and what you can do to help them overcome it
Reason #1: Surface Processing
When an employee finds a reason to retain the information, or when an emotion is connected to the material, or when more than one sense is used in learning, Deep Processing occurs.
If the learner finds no meaning in the content or is disconnected from it, the processing is on the surface level and it does not stay in the brain because the brain considers it insignificant and will accommodate information that it considers more important and relevant.
The fix : Empathize | Focus on Relatability
Empathize with the challenges your learners may face and put yourself in their shoes. What kind of content do your employees consume outside of work? What are the jokes they laugh at? What are the movies they watch? The answers to these questions are pertinent to understanding your learner and then creating a learning module that they can then relate to.
Reason #2: What Versus How
Say you are teaching your employee a process flow. You can either show them a diagram of the flow and explain what the various sections are or you can have the employee experience the process and the scenarios that they can expect at every step via simulations. In all likelihood, your employees will remember the second method as the mind is built to understand the why, who & how of something and less eager to simply accept what is.
The fix : Explain, don’t order
Take for granted that your employees are too busy to undertake the Learning so ensure that you communicate with them why they must learn. Help your employees understand the reasoning behind a concept or subject matter by telling them why it’s important to the company / their role / their growth. The brain needs to recognize the “Why” of it to deem it important.
Reason #3: Learner Didn't Pay Attention to the Content
The most common cause for not remembering is because the information or the content never actually made it to the Learner’s mind. It perhaps went in one ear and came out of the other. This happens in three scenarios :-
- A learner fails to focus on what is being taught : Maybe they had other things on their mind that day
- The content just wasn't engaging enough to capture their attention
- Another reason for not paying attention is that the learner didn't see a reason for this information; it didn't seem to be relevant to their function or job role or any purpose they felt strongly about
The fix : Choose Active Learning
Most learners will pay attention if the learning content scores high on relatability. But how do you get them to actually pay attention? A lot of corporate training content is about as exciting as Vanilla ice cream. This doesn’t need to be the case!
Content that flows in one direction is Passive content. Think of watching a video or listening to a podcast - all you need to do is press Play and it flows. Your involvement is limited. On the other hand, active content is content that engages learners to think, problem solve and apply and practice their knowledge and skills. Think Role Plays and Group Assignments.
By balancing out the passive content with the active content, your employees can take control of their own learning process.
Reason #4: Decay or Disuse
How much of what you studied in School do you remember? Let’s think back to school Geometry. Unless you are in a profession where you need precise angles, you probably don’t remember much. This is because the brain tends to consume information that isn't regularly used and replace it with information it knows it needs. The more ways or times, something is touched upon, the more it remains in the memory.
The fix : Keep it Fresh
It takes a high level of investment on time and resources to develop top-quality learning content. Unfortunately, the investment may not have a high return, especially if it involves topics that have an “expiry date”. Focus on trend free topics that aren’t subject to change. Employees may perpetually encounter customer service issues or sales roadblocks that follow a common theme. These can always prevent them from hitting their monthly targets. While the company grows, these problems will remain. For this reason, it’s best to focus on real-world challenges that learners can relate to for the foreseeable future. You can tackle time sensitive topics through Micro learning so you can change it in less time.
Understanding why learners forget is the first step. Ensuring that learners REMEMBER the information till the time they get the opportunity to apply it is critical for the success of your training program.
Are you looking for ways to transform your existing eLearning content in order to make it relatable, fresh and engaging? We’d be excited to have a go at it.