5 Ways to Overcome Training Decay

Traditional training that sits a person down in a room and talks at them for hours or even days about company culture, how to use the company intranet, and any other thing you want to teach them is broken. In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Eduardo Salas confirms this by stating the following:

The American Society for Training and Development says that by the time you go back to your job, you’ve lost 90% of what you’ve learned in training

90%!?!? That means by the time you’re finished with your day 1, all day new employee orientation program, they are likely to only remember no more than a half hour to an hour of the programing you put together. Like Dr. Salas recommends, we need to rethink how we are bringing on our new employees to not just cram as much information on them in a 3 day period, but designing our training so that it allows our new employees to retain as much information as possible. How can you do this?

Here are a few tips:

1. Think short

I’m not sure about you, but anything related to work that starts with “all-day” is a surefire way to make me feel tired before I even start. Creating multi-hour training sessions will lead to wandering eyes and disengaged minds. Keeping your training sessions short helps keep the attention span of your learners. A good rule of thumb…if your think your training is short enough, try to make it 5 minutes shorter than that.

2. Breaks

Our mind can focus on any one task for 90-120 minutes max (that includes training), but if you’re pushing it that far, your brain needs 20-30 minutes to recover before going on to the next task. It’s important if you are having half or full day training programs that you include several extended breaks for people to recover mentally.

3. Incorporate ‘doing’ into your training

One of the best ways to learn is by doing. Incorporating times during training that is more focused on doing, with the help of either a guided training lesson or video, can help people pick up material faster and have it stick in their brain longer.

4. Make it fun!

Everyone has had that experience of the incredibly dry, boring training session…and that’s probably the only thing you remember about it. Injecting a little bit of humor in to your training (that isn’t distracting, but enhances) can help people remember more than if you just speak at a person for an hour. Want to see a great example of how to do this? Check out this lesson we use to train internal team members on managing our blog in WordPress.

5. Sprinkle your training into the places your employees work.

It doesn’t matter how employee-friendly you make your training, odds are they will forget something. Having quick and easy to access training in the places your employees work day-in and day-out will make it more likely for a person to quickly find what they are unsure of and do it correctly. A quick example of this could be in CRM training…there are so many elements that a person may need to know in regards to your company’s CRM that it may be hard to train them on everything at once. Having training materials available from within your CRM can help your employees self-teach themselves and stay in line with how you want them to use your CRM.

Do you have other tricks to overcome training decay? Let me know in the comments below!

Customer Story: Birchbox
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