What is the ultimate goal of workplace training? You guessed it; long-term behavioral change. Many off-the-shelf training programs cannot really meet that lofty goal. They’re generic, one-size-fits-all offerings that, while undeniably useful for some learning needs, generally don’t generate the kind of long-term behavioral change that most training programs aspire to effect. If true behavior change is your company’s goal, a custom eLearning solution is an option that should be seriously considered, even if only as a piece in a larger blended learning scheme.
If you’ve been in the Learning and Development industry for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of the forgetting curve. To make a very detailed scientific explanation short, the forgetting curve basically demonstrates that if you’re exposed to learning without reinforcement, you start forgetting what you’ve learned a lot quicker than you might think.
When the learning has been delivered in a less than engaging manner (think back to our bland off-the-shelf example), that effect grows exponentially. If, on the other hand, your learning has custom elements and a varied delivery strategy, retention improves, and the forgetting curve has less impact. Although learning doesn’t always guarantee behavior change, you aren’t likely to see any change in performance without knowledge retention as a first step!
Here are a few ways that custom eLearning can increase employee knowledge retention and be a true vehicle for behavior change in your organization.
1. Make It Active
Traditional passive eLearning page-turners often just don’t cut it. How can learners retain anything when all they’re required to do during a 30-minute CBT is click “next”? Custom eLearning allows you to integrate all kinds of fun strategies: video, animation, are-you-still-paying-attention quizzes. There are a lot of options here. Your employees will retain more of the new skills and knowledge you’re trying to impart if the information is delivered in a variety of ways and has been designed to be highly interactive.
2. Make It Bite-Sized
We know that small, digestible chunks of learning tend to stick. Content dumps are just not conducive to actual absorption and integration in the form of changed behavior. Custom eLearning designs allow a more effective, and personalized, rollout of microlearning initiatives. Small bits of learning spaced out over time are much more effective than one big information overload.
3. Make It Reflect Your Company Culture
There is no way your corporate identity, values, and culture can be reflected in an off-the-shelf learning program. Think about onboarding elements or custom sales or even safety training. Yes, there are generic universal elements but how this content applies to your organization is what is crucial. There’s no real way for your employees to connect their day to day work experience with something that is so obviously NOT directed just at them. Don’t underestimate how lack of employee buy-in can affect motivation, and thus lack of retention. Why would they remember something they can’t really relate to? Custom eLearning designs are specific to you, your company, and your employees, and can be part of a cohesive approach toward changing employee mindsets and behavior.
4. Make It Application-Based
The best way for your employees to learn how to do something is… to do it. Custom eLearning offerings can be designed to guide learners from the theoretical to the concrete; it allows the integration of simulations, case studies, and relevant examples that challenge employees to think critically and put what they’ve learned into practice. With custom eLearning, you can provide real-life case studies and examples that provide safe, relevant practice opportunities.
5. Make It Ongoing Performance Support
Off-the-shelf programs are often one-time offerings. You take the course, you check off the box, and that’s about it. A custom approach can integrate an ongoing performance support strategy that off-the-shelf learning doesn’t provide. These offerings can be as simple as quick reference guides or infographics or as complex as just-in-time microlearning that learners can refer to at the point of need. This type of performance support can remind employees not only to implement the newly learned behaviors but also why it’s important to do so.
So think carefully about what your company wants to achieve. If your needs are simple and generic, then an off-the-shelf product might be a good fit. But if you’re aiming for long-term behavior modification and improved employee retention, a custom eLearning solution leveraging these powerful design strategies will be your best bet.