How To Combat The Forgetting Curve

How many times have you focused really hard in an effort to learn something once just to forget it later on? For most of us, it’s a regular occurrence. Over time, memories fade. Good memories, bad memories, important memories…all of them. That doesn’t mean we forget everything entirely – just that the details become fuzzy. If those details are important, that could be a serious problem.

The forgetting curve is a hypothesis that attempts to illustrate the loss of memory over time with no attempt to retain it. The idea began in the 1880s when Hermann Ebbinghaus conducted a study on himself. He tried to memorize patterns of syllables and then tested his memory of those syllables repeatedly over time. What he found after graphing his results is now commonly known as the Forgetting Curve.

After his study, Ebbinghaus surmised that humans lose ~50% of newly learned knowledge in a matter of days without continuous review. You’re wasting your time training and learning just so you can forget half of it. Try remembering that information weeks or months later and you’d be lucky to remember 10-25% of it.

The best way to combat the forgetting curve is by spending time on retention and reinforcement. Remembering the knowledge learned from one-time trainings is difficult. But when it comes to business, forgetting is costly. One-time trainings cost a lot, and if your learners aren’t retaining what they learned, that money was for nothing. Reviewing material regularly greatly helps reduce forgetfulness and saves money for your organization.

 

Blended Learning and Sustainment

 

increasing employee training with reinforcement training 2

 

Refresher training adds to the concept of blended learning. Your learners retain information and knowledge better and for longer if they’re taught through a mixture of learning methods. That could be combining eLearning with face-to-face for instance.

Every learner has a unique learning style. By blending your training approach, you have a better chance of catering to the needs of each of your learners.

It’s not only about the learners, though. Blended learning benefits the teacher, too. New, different training modalities are often more affordable and require less time than older ones. Students are often more engaged, and you’ll be more able to provide accurate feedback. Blended learning also allows teachers to focus on motivating learners towards deeper learning.

With regards to memory, a learner is far more likely to pay attention to and remember information when they’re interested and focused. Varying training modalities increases the odds that your learners will find it interesting.

 

What Makes for Ideal Refresher Training?

There are certain traits that make for successful refresher training:

• Quick
Learners are busy. Sustainment training options need to be speedy, valuable, and allow learners to practice with minimal disruption. 

• Compelling and Clear
Training options should be fun and interactive while keeping language clear and concise to simplify complex concepts.

• Contextual
Refresher training has to fit with your learners’ experiences and be relevant to their day-to-day jobs. That can only be accomplished with an understanding of your learners and what they do and then catering to their real-world experiences.

 

The Case for Shorter Event-Based Trainings

 

increasing employee training with reinforcement training 3

 

Event-based trainings are still very popular among many companies and rightfully so. Instructor-led trainings have their place in unifying a team, sharing a consistent message, and sometimes forcing your employees not to be distracted when sharing vital information.

However, we’ve seen that if you reduce your two-day training down to one-day and use the saved expenses for pre-work and post-event refreshers, your message will be stickier and have more of an impact on learners.

Consider the following illustration we mocked up for one of our clients to visualize the potential savings gained from shortening, blending, and making your training virtual – all-the-while adding reinforcement and the ability to reuse and scale!

The results, in this case, were significant. This company saw a similar satisfaction score from transitioning their previous event-based training to virtual instructor-led training and better yet, they were able to prove ROI with knowledge checks and quizzes.

 

Refresher Training Options

Today, blended learning options that combat the conundrum of forgetfulness are as diverse as your learners. Here are a few sustainment options that should be considered in your training curriculum:

• Interactive Presentations
Interactive presentations act as two tools in one. Learners are able to reinforce knowledge and visualize complex products and services (ex. the difference between internet speeds) by using interactive modules. These presentations can also switch to a “Perform” mode to be used and shared with prospects or clients. Robust reporting measures all user activity so managers can provide guidance for their learners.

• Huddles
Huddles are in-person refresher training that drives retention by using fast-paced, hands-on activities. Facilitators lead Huddles to help employees review specific learning objectives, practice skills and behaviors, and get feedback on the spot. They’re also super easy to facilitate as each one comes with a playbook providing step-by-step instructions on how to prepare for and run a Huddle.

• Games
Studies show that games train the brain by engaging with social and competitive elements. These elements heighten attention, sustain focus, and drive action. And let’s be real, they’re fun. The results speak for themselves:

• 3x increase in training material interactions
• 64% improvement in knowledge from beginning to end of a game Plain and simple, training for one day a year does not work.

Don’t waste your money and time on training that won’t be remembered a week later. It’s time to give your learners valuable refreshers in the flow of their work and for you to stop hitting your head against a wall wondering why skills are not improving and behaviors are not changing.

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Storytelling in Training

Stories have a way of sticking with us. Whether it’s the book on your bedside table, an anecdote shared over coffee, or the latest drama on a favorite TV series, there’s something about a well-told story that captivates.

Entertainment is just a secondary perk, though. The art of storytelling is centuries old, used initially to pass on information from person to person. When we employ the technique in training, we’re looking to capitalize both benefits: spreading knowledge to learners while holding their attention and engaging their interest.

 

Why Use Storytelling

Storytelling is just one of the many tools in our training arsenal. It’s one of our favorites as it allows us to draw on our creativity, however, there are three other core reasons we gravitate toward the solution.

1. Storytelling creates an emotional connection between learners and lessons. As stories draw us in, we continually react, both emotionally and physically as they unfold. Scientists have seen this come alive in brain scans of learners. When presented with narratives and sensory-heavy language, larger portions of the brain are activated than just the language processing areas.

2. Storytelling allows us as content experts to injects creativity and levity into complex, dry topics. From systems to security, we tackle topics that are critical for organizations and learners but may skew a bit boring on the boring side. By transforming facts, processes, and procedures into a narrative, we’re able to hold learner attention longer and boost the likelihood that they’ll actually enjoy their training experience.

3. Storytelling makes content memorable. We want our training to stick. When a learner completes one of our training programs, our intention is that they can take what they’ve learned and immediately apply those skills. Beyond that, we want them to retain that information and be able to carry it through their work for a long period of time, sharing it with other team members as appropriate.

How to Use Storytelling

 Now that you know the value behind the technique, let’s pull the curtain back on some simple best practices for incorporating storytelling into your training:

• Follow the classic story arc. Start with a clear beginning to set the stage for what is to come, introducing concepts and characters on which to build the rest of the story. Create tension or conflict in the middle of the story, resolving it and reinforcing the lesson in the end.

• Be creative. Use relatable characters and probable scenarios to help illustrate the concepts and/or processes that a learner needs to understand. Imagine the learner’s on-the-job experience and look for ways to create an engaging, parallel experience with your content.

• Use descriptive language. Choose phrasing that connects with the senses, describing experiences in terms of the way they look, feel, smell, sound, or taste.

• Incorporate supporting images. Nothing makes stories come alive like compelling imagery. Whenever possible, incorporate graphics, animation, or live-action visuals to better illustrate concepts and provide some visual support for what is happening in your narrative.

Regardless of the modality your training employs, consider ways you might incorporate these concepts into its construction. That’s the approach we take, looking for opportunities to inject our signature creativity into our content to engage learners and drive results.

 

Storytelling in Practice

When it comes to using storytelling in training, we’ve found that simulations lend themselves particularly well to the approach. These choose-your-own-adventure style trainings allow learners to explore different pathways and their results with no actual risk.

We recently built a pair of simulation videos for a real estate leasing company as part of a multi-modality curriculum focused on their new sales method. The videos followed the actions of a leasing agent as she worked to fill a unit in her community.

Throughout each, we created opportunities for learners to choose how to approach various points of conflict within the process. A play off of ‘Million Dollar Listing,’ the project allowed us to pull cultural references and humor into the story, making it particularly relevant to the company’s audience of leasing agents.

Want to see how we can help you take your training to the next level with creative storytelling? Connect with us today.

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Building a Product Training Template

Launching a new product or bringing a new sales team member on-board comes with a level of uncertainty. How will the product be received by your audience? Will a new team member be able to understand and communicate your offerings? Answering those questions is a lot simpler than you may think. In fact, there’s a pretty straightforward solution to both: a product training template.

Following the guidance of Simon Sinek’s popular TED Talk Start With Why, the product training template below aims to get to the passion behind the product first before uncovering the more obvious information surrounding it. By creating a basic product training template like this, you’ll not only have a framework that provides critical context to your team members, you’ll also have a tool that can be reused for future launches and onboardings.

1) Product Training Template Purpose (AKA the Why)

Start by providing the essential information:

  • What is the purpose of the product?
  • Why should anyone care?

2) Product Background (AKA the How)

Build from there on to what your company can offer that others can’t:

  • How does the new product work?
  • How is the new product better than what is offered by your competitors?

3) Product Basics (AKA the What)

Then lay out the big picture:

  • What is the new product?
  • What does the new product do?

It may seem counterintuitive to start with the purpose before outlining the basics behind the product, however working from the unique details to the big picture is exactly the way your sales team should approach their pitches. Clients want to know what makes your product the best option for their needs, and they want to invest in something they believe in. By training your team with a template that provides that information up front, you’re setting the stage for successful client interactions.

With that in mind, let’s explore how to put this product training template into use. Before sharing out with your team, work with leaders to complete each field and the associated questions. Refine responses into a simple, clear text to share out to the team members who will be selling the product.

Then, whether you’re conducting a group product launch or a one-off onboarding, you can walk learners through each section of the template. As you go through, share the thought process that leads to the content and prompt questions that uncover the learner’s own connection to the product and its purpose.

As shared earlier, encourage them to find their own passion and connection to the cause and be prepared to articulate that in client conversations. This is a great opportunity to create a connection with customers with a bit of personalization.

Launching a new product or training on an existing offering can seem daunting. Don’t let it be, using this product training template will help you organize your thoughts and focus on the why behind what it is you’re selling. Looking to take your sales training one step further? Check out ReadySet Sell, our foundational selling skills to help sales reps ramp up faster and ultimately win more deals.

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Take Your Training Beyond Gamification

As gamification has been an increasingly popular training technique to motivate modern learners over the past decade, we’re sure you’ve applied some of these practices to increase engagement and reinforce learning with your employees. But if you haven’t started using actual games in your training yet, you should look to this opportunity as a way to have an even greater impact on your learners.

The enemy of modern training is distraction, and games have been scientifically proven to heighten attention, sustain focus, and drive action. It’s time to go beyond gamification with your training.

You might be asking yourself, “Great, I’m sold on using games in training, but what are the best practices when implementing games into my training programs?” Answer: Games have the most significant effect on learner behavior when used to reinforce and sustain new learning.

This means it’s probably not the best idea to use games to introduce brand new product or compliance information. Here are some best practices questions to consider before jumping into games (pun intended):

  • What skills do you want your learners to gain?

Are you looking for your learners to be able to explain, infer, relate, solve, interpret, or recognize? The type of outcome you want will change which game you should choose.

  • What type of setting will the training take place?

Will your learners be taking a self-paced course where they’ll likely be competing against themselves or will this be used at a live training event with many people playing the game at once?

  • Do you want the game to be collaborative or competitive?

Each group of learners have different preferences. Your sales team might enjoy a competitive game more than a collaborative game, but you need to know your learners and what motivates them.

  • What type of performance objectives are you looking for?

Similar but slightly different than the skills question, when your learners finish their training, what part of their performance should improve? Strategic thinking, knowledge acquisition, or increase in comprehension?

Data has shown that through games, learner engagement increases from a few minutes to an average of 10 minutes of practice. Additionally, through repetition, we’ve seen a knowledge lift of 63% by the third encounter with the reinforcement material.

We’re Game

Before you start asking around the office for a coder, we can help! Unboxed can now create a variety of games for your team. Check out our games page for more information.

 

Game Description When to Use
Jeopardy Traditional Jeopardy format Assess and reinforce hard skills and soft skills
Jump Mobile-style arcade game Memorization of key info turned fun and competitive
Trivia Complete with points, streaks, and leaderboards Transform traditional assessments
Match Mobile-style match-3 game Memorization of key info turned fun and competitive
Scramble Reorder scrambled sentences Test terminology retention
Scenarios Realistic contextual simulations Assess cause and effect decision making
Sort-It Sort answers into correct categories Practice strategic thinking skills
Recall Recall info from a video or image Encourage visual learning and memorization

 

Need more?

Listen to a recording of our webinar, “Beyond Gamification: 3 Secrets on How To Level Up Your Training With Games.”

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3 Secrets on How to Level Up Your Training with Games

Gamification has become an increasingly popular technique to motivate and engage modern learners over the past few years. But gamification can only motivate a learner but so far. Join us to find out what 3 secrets you can apply to experience growth on learner attention, engagement, and knowledge retention.

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State of the Modern Learner

Welcome to 2019 – a time when people expect to be entertained. Why should their training be any different? Think about it, according to The Game Agency, on average we consume nearly 11 hours of media each day and shift our attention between our smartphones, tablets, and computers 21 times every hour. With that in mind, it makes sense that your training should grab your learners’ attention quickly, hold it long enough to make an impact, and above all else, be so entertaining that they want and enjoy it – even with seemingly infinite media options at their fingertips.

Distracted… but Want to Learn

Who are these modern learners that are overwhelmed with entertainment choices all throughout the day? They’re consuming information in shorter, more personalized, more engaging ways. When seeking new information, they’re likely to Google something or check out a video on YouTube, but that’s typically done with the intention of using that information right away. What if the knowledge needs to be retained for an extended period of time? Consider, 50% of information is forgotten within one hour without some type of reinforcement training.

 

State of the Modern Learner graph

They also have short attention spans, crave instant gratification, and are distracted – but not too distracted to want to learn. According to Learnkit, 53% of employees feel they could do their job better if they had better training and per Intercall 47% want the freedom to complete that training at their own pace. It follows that in order for training to make sense for the naturally distracted lifestyle of the modern learner, it has to be:

  • High quality
  • Efficient
  • Personalized
  • Available on demand

Competing for Attention

So, when it seems everyone is fighting for the modern learner’s attention, how do we train? With so much time already spent looking at screens, what if you could reach your learners through any and all of their devices? Better yet, what if you could use those devices to teach them while simultaneously entertaining and delighting them? Good news: you can – and you should.

Fun and Games!

For the greatest impact, ensure that your training includes gamification and games that:

  • Transmit information simply
  • Grab your learner’s attention
  • Keeps them engaged
  • And perhaps above all else, helps them reinforce and retain what they’ve learned

Games not only provide an engaging learning experience that can change behaviors and improves comprehension, but thanks to the fun they provide, learners often want to continue learning and thereby reinforce their training.

Secondly, games provide a competitive element that drives action, sustains focus, and heightens attention. Consider these statistics:

  • The average learner will play a game three times during training.
  • On average, they will experience a 64% increase in knowledge from the beginning to the end of a game.
  • Each gameplay session lasts an average of six minutes.

Lastly, training with games provides you with robust reporting and analytics capabilities. Each game can be used to collect player data to help you identify knowledge gaps – thereby enabling you to rework training content to maximize effectiveness.

In short

Modern learners have minimal time to devote to training. They’re working from several locations and expect to access information on-demand. Luckily for them, games are a form of micro-learning that provide quick, compelling training that can be accessed anywhere, anytime. This form of training is ideal for the modern learner’s short attention span as the information taught is bite-sized and easy-to-digest. And when people are entertained, they focus and retain information more easily.

Additionally, if an experience is enjoyable, people naturally return for more. Training so good that it compels a return visit increases the odds of retention (and the amount of information that can be retained) – and that’s exactly what the distracted, modern learner needs in 2019.

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Training New Employees – 3 Essential Elements for Every Onboarding Program

So you’ve scoured the applicant pool and found the perfect person for the job, the hard part is done, right? Really, you’re only about half-way up the hill. The training the new employee receives is just as important as who you’ve hired.

Don’t believe us? ADP says that 91% of managers, 81% of HR administrators, and 75% of employees say onboarding is not done right. It’s also been reported that it costs an organization 1.5x the employee’s salary to replace and get a new employee up to speed. It’s safe to say, getting onboarding right is crucial.

Here are the three essentials to keep in mind so your training will hit the mark.

 

1. The Warm Welcome: Ease Their First Day Nerves

New employees have a lot to get the jitters about—a new job, an unfamiliar commute, a new office space, possibly a new city, and all new co-workers (not to mention new responsibilities). It’s important to start to build trust and confidence the moment they walk in the door. Let’s face it, first impressions are important, and a team member’s first day is also their first peek behind the curtain.

On day 1 new team members will start to make judgments on what makes you tick as a company, how the organization is run, and your culture. Are managers hiding behind locked doors? Are their new co-workers friendly? Do the leaders really care?

You only get one chance to set the tone for their first experience. Alleviate their fears and establish a culture of caring by showing them that they’re more than just a number.

If you’re a small company, have each new employee sit down with someone from the C-Suite to get the story of the company. It helps them feel like they’re more than just a number—the leaders care about them and take the time to get to know them.

For larger organizations, a good option is an Introductory Video – a short and sweet message from leadership that all new hires can watch. It tells them a bit about the company, the role employees play in their continued success, and how excited leadership is that they’re joining the team.

Why does this make such a difference? The Gallup organization reports that 71% of employees today are either not engaged or are actively disengaged at work. Establishing a culture where every person matters and is valued is a great way to help build a new employee’s trust that they joined the right organization—and that buy-in is an important factor in keeping employees engaged.

 

2. The Coaching Mindset: Establish Check Points and Expectations

87% of Millennials recently surveyed stated that professional development and career growth are very important to them. Your employees are hungry, and they want success – they just don’t always know how to get there. That’s where you come in.

Outline clear expectations and milestones using a BARS (Behavior Anchored Rating Scale) Chart. The BARS Chart serves as the foundation for the new employee. It outlines what not acceptable, good, and GREAT looks like in their role.

Peer mentor check-ins are a great way to reinforce these GREAT behaviors in a less intimidating setting. New employees can watch a tenured employee perform the GREAT behaviors, talk through their best practices, and openly discuss challenges with someone in their same role.

Then use a 30/60/90-day Plan to build off that framework. These plans allow managers to work with an employee to gauge where they fall at each milestone (according to the BARS Chart) and plan for next steps.

At each of these milestones, the manager should meet with the new hire to discuss their progress and goals for the coming days using the 30/60/90-day Plan as a framework. 

 

3. The Wow Factor: Cater to the Modern Learner

We all know that there are certain things that simply have to be covered when it comes to training new hires: your company’s mission, vision, values, the tools/software they’ll use, and the knowledge, skills, and behaviors they need to do their job well. Check out this Onboarding Checklist to see if your program covers the basics.

But it’s not enough to just check all the boxes, you have to make it memorable. The average employee checks his or her phone more than 150 times per day, so it’s not surprising that the modern learner has a shorter attention span and will tire of the “required” content quickly if you don’t make it exciting.

Reading a manual, sitting through a presentation, or taking a compliance course isn’t going to cut it for the modern learner. Instead, weave in as much interactivity as possible.

You can do things like a VR scavenger hunt for office essentials, add mobile-friendly self-paced foundational courses, or include Simulated or Animated Videos in to your onboarding program. We promise your learners will notice the difference and their knowledge and retention will improve.

Remember, finding and hiring the right people is only part of the battle—how you train them, starting at day 1, is a big factor. For more info on onboarding, check out our article on Onboarding Best Practices. And if you’re interested in learning about Introductory Videos, BARS Charts, 30/60/90-day Plans, Animated or Simulated Videos, incorporating Virtual Reality and more, let us know. We’d love to talk to you and help assess which onboarding training elements are right for your company! 

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