Employee Training: Why It’s All About Not Forgetting


Every year, we spend 60 billion dollars on employee training. And every year, we throw 42 billion dollars away. That’s 70%. Why is that? Because employees forget 70% of what they learn within 24 hours of their training experience.

The fact is that an employee’s learning curve has an equally powerful foe: the “forgetting curve.” On graph paper, it looks just like a learning curve. Except it tells a story with a forgettable ending. Two days after training, employees have forgotten 85% of what they’ve learned. After three days, it’s 90%. After one week, retention is closer to zero*.

This creates a second issue. Learning materials are meant to be motivating. If employees are forgetting the information in them, they’re probably not getting the motivation they need to take those extra steps toward growth.

Blame it on the brain, says Katie McCaslin, Vice President of Learning Solutions at RealPage.

Overcoming the “forgetting curve”

According to Katie, “Forgetting is an intentional thing that our brains do. They’re trying to keep relevant information at the top while pushing and purging out the stuff they don’t think is relevant. Unfortunately, the brain doesn’t always know which stuff is relevant. That includes all the training information we want our employees to absorb so they can improve their performance and develop their talents.”

So, what can companies do if they want to advance staff through in-house employee learning programs? Plenty, it turns out.

McCaslin points to two innovative techniques—learning boosters and social gamification—that companies can employ to overcome the forgetting curve and build motivation, while simplifying the way they incorporate learning management into their teams.

“Learning boosters are interactive activities, like trivia or did you know facts about the material that employees have just learned, says Katie. “If you inject them within certain hours and days of having the employee leave that training session or having taken that online class, you’re resetting the forgetting curve by making them recall that information and bringing it back to the forefront, so their brain can’t just let it go. You’re signaling the brain that this is important, useful stuff.”

Creating an enjoyable employee learning experience

Learning boosters address the issue of retention. The other innovative item, social gamification, takes on the equally challenging problem of motivation. Social gamification takes the longstanding technique of gamification—making learning  engaging and motivating—and adds a people-powered component that makes learning competitively fun for employees.

“In gamification-based learning systems, you can earn badges and points as you interact with the system. Managers can award these, too. That’s motivating. With social gamification, you can take this much, much further,” explains McCaslin.

Imagine you add an online leaderboard to your gamification system. Now, you can see how your peers are doing.

“If I see that a fellow employee is in first place on the leaderboard—let’s call her Jen—I’d want to know more about her. What’s Jen doing to be so awesome? Can I emulate that? Or should I work with her? Maybe I’ll check out Jen’s trophy case and accomplishments, the level she’s at, or the position she holds,” says McCaslin.

You’re bringing out that competitive instinct, which builds motivation. Throw in a daily, online newsfeed to highlight your employees’ game-based learning activities, and you can motivate the whole office in a healthy, social way.

A simple yet innovative solution to learning management

McCaslin has been developing innovative techniques like these at RealPage to create multifamily learning solutions for customers that are truly effective at training and advancing their staff.

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