The 4 Ways To Fix Learner Engagement And Retention

The 4 Ways To Fix Learner Engagement And Retention
Summary: Enabling employees to remember what they've learned by using it in their jobs requires persistent cultivation and strategic learner engagement initiatives. Mix and match these strategies, and build on them over time to edge closer to turning your employee into a learner.

Learning Objectives For Engagement And Retention

If your main role is to help your employees grow and develop, your two main training goals are in all probability

  1. To get employees to remember the learning content.
  2. To get them to apply what they’ve learned.

To do this more effectively, it helps to understand the roadblocks to not forgetting. This will help you to incorporate key elements into your programs that help counteract the causes of forgetting. 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.

1. Surface Processing

When an employee finds a reason to retain the information, 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 at the surface level and does not stay in the brain because the brain considers it insignificant. The brain accommodates the information that it considers 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 relate to.

2. What Versus How

Say you are teaching your employees 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 employees experience the process and scenarios that they can expect at every step via simulations. In all likelihood, your employees will remember more if you use the second method as the mind is built to understand the why, who, and how of something, and is less eager to simply accept instruction.

The Fix: Explain, Don’t Order

Take for granted that your employees are too busy to undertake the training, so ensure that you communicate with them why they must learn. Help your employees understand the reasoning behind a concept or subject by telling them why it’s important to the company/their role/growth. The brain needs to recognize the "why" of training to deem it important.

3. Learner Didn't Pay Attention To The Content

The most common cause for not remembering is because the information or content never actually made it into the learner’s mind. Perhaps it went in at 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 to 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.

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 forget 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 in 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 microlearning, so you can address them quickly.

Understanding why learners forget is the first step. Ensuring that learners remember the information till 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.

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