The business world is in a state of uncertainty as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt our personal and professional lives. The question of how the world will look after we emerge from the pandemic will largely be determined by how closely we look at the mistakes we have made and the best path forward for business.

Remote work, which continues to be desired by many, has proven to increase productivity and reduce turnover. Building virtual learning and development programs that focuses heavily on learner engagement and ownership will help companies with remote employees succeed now and in the future.

Use It or Lose It

The trend of lackluster results from corporate training as a whole is not a surprise when you consider that the average company spends $1,308 a year on training each employee, according to the Association for Talent Development (ATD). This undoubtedly results in significant skills gaps across the organization. Not only has there been a shortage of training provided to employees, but the training given is often not thorough enough or is not hands on. Considering how vital training is to an organization’s success, this is concerning. When executives and hiring managers review the talent pool when recruiting for a position, the fact that there is a large skills gap confirms just how critical training is to ensuring a high-performing, productive and engaged workforce.

We often forget what we learn if we don’t apply it soon after the learning process. This “use it or lose it” view on learning is illustrated best by the forgetting curve, pioneered by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus in the late 19th Century. The forgetting curve shows that we forget information that is not immediately used at an exponential rate: After 20 minutes of not reinforcing information with an attempt to retain it, we will only remember 58% of what we learned. After six days of no reinforcement, it drops to 25% and after 31 days of not reinforcing what we’ve learned, it equates to a retention rate of just 21%.

Learning, Reinforced

Training should include application-based learning since we know that retention and understanding is based on learners’ ability to apply the information back on the job. Learners can practice applying what they have learned through scenarios like project-based activities, role-playing or real-time assessments. Assessments are becoming more standard for corporate training. A virtual learning environment makes it easy, if using a virtual learning technology for the session.

Real-time assessment tools help trainers measure learners’ engagement and knowledge retention levels. Follow-up training, which is easy and cost-effective when delivering training virtually, starts the “clock” again, or as a Mindtools article explains in reference to the forgetting curve, “Even though our memory fades quickly, a review session soon after the original learning can improve it. This session should happen when recall has slipped significantly but hasn’t fallen so low that you’re essentially starting over.” Reviewing and refreshing information regularly will help employees retain what they have learned. Although the forgetting process starts again after each review session, it’s slower than before, the article explains. “That’s why each new curve is shallower than the last.”

The Importance of Learner Assessments and Evaluations

Assessing skills and knowledge is a natural part of training yet, according to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report, assessments are not happening as often as they should. Globally, only 30% of learning and development (L&D) professionals indicate that they leverage assessments during training. While tactics like role-playing and hands-on projects can also help identify knowledge and skills, assessments are just as valuable. Assessments should be completed in real-time during training. If companies use a virtual learning solution that is designed for training and learning, instructors can choose from different assessment options with multiple types of questions to reinforce the correct information. Assessment results are delivered back to the instructor immediately after the trainees “submit” their responses.  This offers immediate acknowledgment and corrects misinformation during the session.

The evaluation process is also critical to successful training. According to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report, there was an 11-point increase in evaluations between 2020 and 2021. However, this still only constitutes 27% of respondents that confirm they use evaluations. Another way of evaluating training effectiveness is to look at the engagement analytics of the actual session. These analytics are completely objective, so there’s no bias. The more engagement the better the training effectiveness.

Generally, training evaluation reviews need to account for bias from both the trainer and the trainee, as both have an interest in showing a positive outcome from training. A Harvard Business Review article explains, “Today’s employees often signal through continuous professional education (CPE) credits so that they can make a case for a promotion. L&D staff also signal their worth by meeting flawed KPIs, such as the total CPE credits employees earn, rather than focusing on the business impact created. The former is easier to measure, but flawed incentives beget flawed outcomes.”

To help resolve this problem, it’s essential to have an evaluation tool inside the learning technology, so evaluations can be completed before trainees leave the training session and they can be compared to the objective results captured through data analytics.

The ability to look at objective engagement around learners’ engagement and activity levels during the training helps trainers implement better sessions and determine the business impact of training. Learning solutions that implement learning, behavior and performance analytics dashboards provide this information from a trainer and a participant perspective. This insight creates measurable outcomes based on qualitative data that can improve training programs and learning.

Jigsaw Interactive’s virtual learning environment is a platform that revolutionizes training and learning. To learn more about learning effectiveness visit www.JigsawInteractive.com.

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