In 2014, employees spent an average of 32.4 hours in training — that’s approaching a full week’s worth of training time. Unfortunately, many studies and statistics call into question the effectiveness of all that training. In fact, cognitive science expert Art Kohn says that within a week, people forget an average of 90 percent of the information that was presented to them, which he calls the “dirty secret of corporate training.” We know that, on average, employees aren’t getting out anywhere close to what they put into training. Too many companies are still relying on traditional training methods. What’s the alternative? High-impact, experiential training sessions that engage participants on every level.
Here are six ways experiential training trumps traditional training methods every time:
1. It Produces Long-lasting Results
Humans are primed to learn by doing — or at least, learning is more likely to stick when it’s experienced, rather than simply taught. In fact, in a recent study, brain scans of students taking a hands-on approach to learning revealed that the parts of the brains activated while they were engaged in experiential learning were associated with better quiz performance later on. With this theory in mind, experiential training methods involve a “hands-on” approach to training. Participants remain actively engaged throughout the training, which makes them far more likely to internalize the training and recall it long after the training session ends.
2. It’s Customizable
Experiential training works so well because it mimics the actual work environment, the way your colleagues interact with one another on a day-to-day basis, but every work environment is different and every organization has different goals. These differences are where experiential training really shines: the same experience can be altered and organized in slightly different ways to adapt the overall message for your organization’s unique needs.
3. It Won’t Put Participants to Sleep
This may seem like an obvious point, but it’s a classic pitfall of traditional training methods — they’re just too boring. Most traditional training methods involve participants passively consuming material, whether it’s through lectures and presentations or online learning materials and assessments. The level of engagement required in experiential training sessions; however, fosters a far more exciting, interactive environment. Getting participants actually excited about training may sound like an unattainable achievement, but you can make it happen with experiential training.
4. It Provides a Safe Space to Fail
Yes, experiential training simulates a real work environment — but it’s just that, a simulation. This simulated, safe environment provides participants with the all-too-rare opportunity to take risks, even if they result in failure, since failure in this instance isn’t tied to real-world consequences. Having your colleagues try and fail during an experiential training session can provide them with valuable insights without mangling the company’s bottom line.
5. It Helps Form Healthy Work Habits
You can learn the key tenets of good communication, for example, from a PowerPoint presentation — but traditional training methods won’t help you make communicating thoughtfully a practiced habit. Habits only form when people are motivated to make them stick, and experiential learning programs can build in that motivation. For example, people are often motivated to perform certain tasks only if they can get immediate feedback. During an experiential training session, you’re able to provide immediate feedback, which motivates participants to practice the new habit.
6. It Strengthens the Team Bond
You don’t have to conduct team-building activities to bond the team. In experiential training, the strengthening of team bonds is often an unintended yet welcomed side effect. Experiential training involves participants not just “learning together, but “doing” together, and hours of interaction in a safe, supportive, and fun environment can do wonders to boost team morale and bring team members closer together, especially if they haven’t yet had the chance to work closely with one another.
Increasingly, HR departments and executives themselves are realizing that what used to be the gold standard in training just isn’t delivering the desired results. What frustrates you about traditional training methods?