Three Strategies for Improving Learning Retention

Three Strategies for Improving Learning Retention - croppedLearning retention is a key to improving the business impact of training. In today’s economic climate, with companies being forced to do more with less, it’s more important than ever for learning and development professionals to be able to design and provide training programs that influence observable behavior change to positively affect the bottom line.

Here are three strategies for ensuring the transfer of knowledge is happening in your organization:

  • Incorporate active learning. As I indicated in one of my previous blog posts, Tailoring Education to Adults: Five Principles to Consider, individuals learn best by experiencing. Incorporate plenty of practice sessions (learning requires repetition) and exercises throughout the course. Use relevant business scenarios when applicable to solidify the learning.
  • Develop an action plan. Action-planning can be a powerful tool that drives on-the-job application of the critical skill sets needed to achieve desired results. The action plan answers such questions as:   
    • What steps or action items will be taken as a result of learning?
    • What on-the-job improvements or accomplishments will be realized with participants’ applied skills and knowledge?

For example, in Faith Technologies’ Faith Impressions course, a course which provides participants with an understanding of customer service throughout the company, participants are asked to reflect on their learning and indicate specific action steps they will take to improve the service they provide to their customers within two weeks of returning to the job. The participants’ leaders then use that action plan to follow up with the participants after the training to check in and reinforce the learning that occurred in the classroom.

  • Ensure organizational support. Once out of the classroom, employees need opportunities to apply their new skills. Nothing is more wasteful to an organization than being taught one thing in training and then not given the opportunity to apply that learning to the job – or worse, be told something completely contradictory by his or her manager.

By applying these three strategies, you will ensure increased learner retention AND demonstrate that the learning experience was well worth the investment.