learning retention

10 ways for managers to improve Learning Retention in their teams

Learning is a continuous process that involves retaining new information and skills. However, it can be challenging to remember everything we learn. This is where learning retention comes into play. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of learning retention and why it’s essential. We will also discuss the factors that affect learning retention in the workplace and the learning retention pyramid model. Finally, we’ll share some strategies for improving learning retention so you can maximize your learning experiences. Whether you’re a student or a working professional, this blog is for anyone who wants to maximize their learning potential and retain knowledge effectively.

What is Learning Retention?

Learning retention refers to remembering and retaining information or skills over time. It is the capacity to recall and apply knowledge or abilities acquired through learning or training, even after a significant amount of time has passed since the initial learning occurred. Retention is a crucial aspect of learning because it determines the effectiveness and long-term impact of the learning experience. When information is retained, it can be retrieved from memory and used when needed, allowing individuals to build upon their previous knowledge and skills.

Why is Learning Retention Important?

Learning retention is crucial in the workplace for several reasons

  • Knowledge and Skill Application: Retained knowledge and skills allow employees to apply what they have learned daily. It enables them to make informed decisions, solve problems efficiently, and contribute effectively to their roles and responsibilities.
  • Adaptability: In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing work environment, employees must adapt to new technologies, processes, and industry trends. Learning retention ensures employees can retain and apply new information, enabling them to adapt quickly and remain relevant in their roles.
  • Cost and Time Efficiency: When employees retain knowledge and skills, there is less need for constant retraining and onboarding. This saves time and resources for the organization, as they can focus on more advanced or specialized training rather than repeatedly covering the same foundational knowledge.
  • Continuous Improvement: Learning retention supports a culture of constant improvement within the workplace. When employees retain and build upon their knowledge over time, they can identify areas for improvement, suggest innovative solutions, and contribute to the overall growth and development of the organization.
  • Employee Engagement and Satisfaction: Providing opportunities for learning and development boost employee engagement and satisfaction. When employees feel that their learning is valued and they can apply their knowledge effectively, it enhances their sense of accomplishment and job satisfaction.
  • Organizational Competitiveness: Organizations that prioritize learning retention create a competitive advantage. Employees who consistently retain and apply their knowledge contribute to the organization’s overall knowledge base and competence, enabling it to stay ahead in the market and drive innovation.
Here are the top 10 innovative employee engagement ideas that will transform your workplace.

Factors Affecting Learning Retention in the Workplace

Several factors can influence learning retention in the workplace. Understanding these factors can help organizations design effective training programs and create a conducive learning environment. Here are some key factors that can affect learning retention:

  • Relevance and Meaningfulness: The relevance and meaningfulness of the learning content to employees’ roles and responsibilities significantly impact retention. Employees who perceive the training as directly applicable to their job tasks and goals are likelier to retain and apply the learned information.
  • Active Engagement: Active engagement in the learning process enhances retention. When employees actively participate in the training through discussions, problem-solving activities, case studies, or hands-on practice, it promotes deeper processing and improves retention.
  • Learning Environment: The learning environment, including the physical background and the overall culture of the workplace, can influence retention. A positive and supportive learning environment that encourages collaboration, knowledge sharing, and continuous learning fosters higher retention rates.
  • Timing and Spacing: The timing and spacing of learning interventions can impact retention. Spaced repetition, where learning is distributed over time with repeated exposure, has been shown to enhance long-term retention compared to massed practice. Providing opportunities for reinforcement and review after the initial learning can help solidify memory traces.
  • Individual Differences: Differences in learning styles, cognitive abilities, and prior knowledge can affect retention. Understanding and accommodating these differences can optimize the learning experience and support better retention for diverse employees.
  • Learning Techniques: The choice of instructional techniques and strategies can impact retention. Techniques encouraging active participation, such as simulations, role-playing, interactive multimedia, and real-world application, promote better retention than passive learning approaches.
  • Feedback and Assessment: Feedback and assessment mechanisms are crucial in retention. Timely and constructive feedback helps learners identify gaps in their understanding and adjust their learning strategies accordingly. Regular assessments, such as quizzes or performance evaluations, provide opportunities for retrieval practice and reinforce learning.
  • Support and Reinforcement: Ongoing support and reinforcement after training can enhance retention. Providing job aids, resources, mentoring, and opportunities to apply the learned skills in real work situations helps reinforce the knowledge and ensures its transfer to the job.
  • Motivation and Incentives: Motivation and incentives can impact the effort and attention employees invest in learning, thus influencing retention. When employees are intrinsically motivated and see the value of the training for their personal and professional growth, they are more likely to retain what they have learned.

The Learning Retention Pyramid Explained

The Learning Pyramid, or the Cone of Learning, is a visual representation that suggests the average retention rates associated with different learning methods. While the exact origins and scientific basis of the Learning Pyramid are disputed, it is often used as a conceptual tool to emphasize the varying degrees of retention based on different learning activities. It is important to note that the percentages in the pyramid are not universally agreed upon or supported by extensive scientific research. Nonetheless, the pyramid serves as a reminder of the general principle that active engagement in the learning process results in higher retention rates than passive methods.

The commonly cited version of the Learning Pyramid suggests the following average retention rates associated with different learning methods (from highest to lowest).

These percentages indicate the estimated average amount of information retained after some time. It suggests that teaching others or actively engaging in practice and discussion results in higher retention rates. In contrast, more passive methods like reading, audio-visual presentations, and lectures typically result in lower retention rates.

Recognizing that individual learning preferences and variations in learning contexts can influence retention is essential. Different individuals may have different learning styles and preferences, and combining various learning methods is often the most effective approach to cater to diverse needs and enhance overall retention. The Learning Pyramid should be viewed as a general guideline rather than a rigid prescription for effective learning.

How to improve the retention of information?

Improving learning retention in team members is crucial for maximizing the effectiveness of training and development efforts. Here are some strategies that can help enhance learning retention among team members. By implementing these strategies, organizations can foster an environment that supports continuous learning and maximizes learning retention among team members, leading to improved performance and overall team effectiveness.

  • Engage in Active Learning: Encourage active participation and engagement during training sessions. Incorporate activities that require team members to apply the learned concepts, solve problems, participate in discussions, or create examples. Active learning promotes deeper processing and improves retention.
  • Provide Context and Meaning: Connect the training content to real-world scenarios and job-related situations. Help team members understand the relevance and applicability of what they are learning to their roles and responsibilities. When learners see the meaning and value in training, it enhances their motivation and retention.
  • Use Spaced Repetition: Utilize spaced repetition techniques to reinforce learning over time. Provide opportunities for team members to revisit and review the training material regularly. Spaced repetition helps solidify memory traces and improves long-term retention.
  • Encourage Self-Reflection: Incorporate reflection activities into the learning process. Give team members time to reflect on what they have learned, connect it to their existing knowledge, and consider how to apply it in their work. Reflection promotes more profound understanding and retention.
  • Provide Job-Embedded Learning Opportunities: Create opportunities for team members to use the learned concepts and skills in their work environment. Assign projects or tasks that require them to utilize the newly acquired knowledge. Practical application reinforces learning and enhances retention.
  • Offer Feedback and Support: Provide timely and constructive feedback to team members on their performance and application of the learned material. Feedback helps identify areas for improvement and supports better retention. Offer ongoing support and resources to address any challenges or questions that arise.
  • Foster a Learning Culture: Create a supportive learning culture within the team and the organization. Encourage continuous learning, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. Recognize and reward team members who actively engage in learning and demonstrate the application of their knowledge.
  • Utilize Various Learning Modalities: Cater to different learning preferences and modalities. Incorporate a variety of learning resources and formats, such as videos, interactive activities, case studies, discussions, and hands-on practice. Offering multiple modalities appeals to diverse learning styles and enhances retention.
  • Provide Job Aids and Resources: Offer job aids, reference materials, or online resources that team members can access after the training. These resources are reminders and support tools, helping team members reinforce and apply their learning when needed.
  • Encourage Peer Learning: Facilitate peer-to-peer learning and knowledge sharing within the team. Encourage team members to teach and explain concepts to one another, discuss their understanding, and share their experiences. Peer learning reinforces learning and enhances retention.
Follow the link to know more about 5 strategies to promote transfer of learning among team members.


In conclusion, learning retention is the ability to retain information over time. It is an essential aspect of learning as it ensures that you remember and apply what you have learned when needed. The brain’s retention process plays a crucial role in retaining information, and various factors, such as stress, distractions, and lack of motivation, can affect it. Understanding the Learning Retention Pyramid can help you prioritize how to learn effectively and efficiently. Strategies such as active learning, spaced repetition, and visual aids can also improve learning retention. Remember that learning is a lifelong process, and improving your retention skills will only benefit you in the long run.

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