How to Make sure Employee Training is Effective & Retained

Employee training is one of the most difficult parts of managing an effective team. Especially in a work environment where work safety comes into play often (for example, in a physical labor-heavy industry), the retention of training information becomes critical to your business’ success and longevity. Unfortunately, few managers have made it through their careers without dealing with the frustrating reality that training is often forgotten almost immediately as soon as a session is over. This becomes especially true with the passage of time, if a piece of equipment is seldom used the training surrounding it may be largely forgotten in the interim period(s), posing a potentially increased safety risk with each use. In other cases, training is largely for procedural and efficiency purposes, and, while it may not be “unsafe” to not follow protocol to the T, it can certainly slow down an office and make your business less productive.

In today’s blog post, we’re going to go through a few ways that you can help ensure that your employees retain information after it is taught to them, and that you can evaluate how much is learned in a training session.

Employee Input Is Key

There are a few different important ways in which you can use the opinions and answers of employees to help guide and measure your training.

  • Pre-Training Survey: One of the best ways you can see how much an employee learned during a training session is by asking them questions surrounding the topic at hand both before and after the session. In addition to questions that test knowledge, consider asking employees what they would like to learn in the session. If you’re going to do the second part, you’ll obviously need to survey your employees before the actual session begins so you have time to read their answers, then, as best as you can, you can tailor your training to meld together employee interests with what you have planned. Even if some of the requests aren’t directly compatible with the topic, involving employees on a written level helps them engage.
  • Post-Training Survey: Now is the time to directly ask your employees the same or a similar set of questions to before the session, allowing you to directly measure how much their answers have changed, and thus their knowledge has grown, of a given topic. Learners often retain more when they have to write, speak aloud, or draw things, rather than passively receiving them, so this has the added benefit of making employees think about and write out what they’ve learned, helping to solidify it in their long term memory.

In-Session Activities

Remember how I just said tangible engagement with a topic can increase memory retention? Well, you can use this strategy throughout the session too, not just after it! During your session, encourage employees to play games and participate in real time quizzes. While this all may seem a bit elementary, and you may even get a few eye rolls, the information will be better retained. A great strategy, and one often used in schools, is to split the session up and teach part of a lesson to each, then ask employees to partner up with someone else from the other group and teach that person what they learned. Teaching something is one of the best way to test one’s own understanding of it, and this technique can easily be integrated into employee training.

Post-Training & Other Ideas

In addition to evaluating employee retention immediately after a session, try doing so via take-home survey, email, or online platform like SurveyMonkey 5-10 hours after employees have been in training. Reviewing material within this window of time after learning it has been proven to increase the percentage of information that is put into long term memory.

As a final tip, you may also consider having multiple training sessions, each separated by a week or two. What this allows you to do is measure performance, safety compliance, and/or whatever else was taught in the session amongst those who have had the training against those who haven’t as a sort of control group. Measurable differences in behavior between the two groups can tell you whether a training session has been effective.

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