Employee training and development is an 82.5 billion dollar industry. It covers everything from on-the-job training to specialized courses and beyond. Likely, your organization is already investing in some kind of training or development.

But how effective is all this spending? Many question its utility and, in fact, a recent McKinsey survey showed that only a quarter of respondents believed that training improved performance. Other research is even more worrisome showing that a mere 12% of employees apply skills from L&D programs to their jobs.

Given all this, you might be tempted to avoid the expense of workshops and other training initiatives altogether. But, in a high-tech rapidly developing marketplace, an upskilled workforce is essential. Further, research shows that 70% of employees don’t have the skills needed to do their jobs. This means that training is essential — but the workforce isn’t getting what it needs.

Although training and development budgets are often underutilized, this does not preclude the very real need for effective employee development. Currently, 93% of the workforce would stay at a company longer if invested in their careers. 

Further, today’s workforce needs more upskilling opportunities than ever.

So, how do you ensure greater efficacy in workshops and employee training overall? Here are 8 proven factors to make your employee training workshops more effective.

1) Align closely with organizational goals and values

The first way to ensure the efficacy of your training or workshops is to reinforce the goals and values of your organization. This may seem obvious, however, it is all too common for organizations to attempt to reinforce the values they wish they had or to pick goals that are detached from everyday operations.

Further, training should be as specific and actionable as possible. The most valuable training for your workforce identifies the key, everyday challenges of your team and offers concrete strategies to overcome them.

2) Have the right reasons

Too often workshops are used as a way to make things appear to have all the trappings of growth and development without the substance. It makes people look good or it offers a band-aid to a challenge this or that department is facing. But all this is just spinning the wheel.

Workshops should have specific intentions that align with larger organizational goals. Otherwise, workshops end up being a waste of time and money.

3) Identify quantifiable goals

To paraphrase Peter Drucker, if you can’t measure the outcome there’s no way to succeed.

Quantifying goals for your training offers several benefits. It ensures that the goals are clear, participants know what they need to do to succeed, allows for adjustments based on data, and, finally, it helps you determine the value of the training in clear terms.

Although traditionally difficult to measure, new technology has made quantifying success more attainable than ever.

4) Ensure content is relevant and actionable

The poetic and moving speeches of a motivational speaker are great — but they’re not much use if they’re not coupled with actionable advice. Instead, workshops should focus on the specific ways that participants can apply what they’re learning to their daily workflows.

5) Daily reinforcement after the fact

Real learning doesn’t just happen in one day — it takes consistent reinforcement over time. Even if workshop participants remember the lessons and stay motivated for a week or more, it slowly starts to fade. The thing is when the day-to-day demands return and things get busy people naturally return to what’s most comfortable.

The fact is if we don’t apply the new information we forget 75% of it in just six days. To really break old habits and to instill new skills, organizations need daily reinforcement for their training programs to stick.

Daily reinforcement utilizes what’s known as the psychological spacing effect — the link between frequent exposure and retention. Instead of forgetting 75% in a week, by taking advantage of this effect you can retain 80% for more than 3 months. 

6) Leverage micro-learning opportunities

Many of the lessons that stick with us over the years seem uneventful in the moment — but have a lasting positive effect. Because much of the way we learn has everything to do with the right piece of information conjoined to the right challenge. This is the power of micro-learning.

Successful workshops reinforce the key lessons by leveraging micro-learning opportunities. Once logistically difficult, new technology is making this more and more feasible.

7) Bring learning to the point of need

We humans didn’t survive our early history by learning abstract lessons in books. Rather, we learned in the moment from the demands of necessity. Even still, we learn skills best in the moment when we need them — rather than in workshops detached from on-the-ground realities.

This doesn’t mean workshops should be done away with — quite the contrary — but that they should be supplemented with new technology that helps apply workshop lessons at the point of need.

8) Review results and adjust

As with any new venture, it’s impossible to foresee all the challenges that come with training. So training initiatives are rarely perfect at first and need a period of trial and error before finding the right strategy.

This is where those quantifiable goals come in handy. Check out your data and be sure to identify what the workshop did right and where the next workshop could improve. Aim to understand why the results turned out the way they did.