US companies invest a significant amount of money, time, and resources into training their employees. In fact, Gallup estimates that disengaged employees cost US businesses up to $550 billion annually in lost productivity. A new approach to learning and training should be at the top of employers’ to-do list. Yet many companies are still using stale, one-size-fits-all materials that do little to inspire retention or performance.

It’s often hard to know how much of that information is actually being effectively retained and put to use. You may have insight into training compliance, but there are few means of measuring absorption. And according to a host of new data, if companies want to identify the source of profitability bleeding, it lies with lack of retention.

Cutting through the clutter

Training methods need to evolve with the times in order to keep personnel productive, engaged, confident in their knowledge, and adamant in their pursuit of learning. Businesses must understand that with their employees, they’re up against fragmented content consumption, increasing distractions, and greater control by the consumer. Training and learning materials are struggling to cut through the clutter, and employees ultimately are disregarding them.

This results in a disengaged and disenchanted workforce, decreased loyalty, lost productivity, and, in the end, lower profitability.

The “training problem”

By their nature, trends like these should be encouraging employers to rethink training for new hires; yet Rapt Media’s recent survey data on the American workplace shows that employees are disengaged and disappointed with training techniques used by their employers and are not actually absorbing the information required to perform.

The survey shows that the majority of employees (65 percent) feel their company could have done a better job of onboarding them. In fact, three out of four employees (74 percent) said they’d forgotten some or all of the last mandatory training they attended, while more than half (57 percent) completed the training only because they had to.

This data highlights the difference between compliance and absorption in the workplace and, when deconstructed, pinpoints effectiveness, growth, and engagement of employees as a key indicator of success. It is increasingly difficult to present information in ways that capture attention and stimulate learning, but investing in effective training has proved to be essential to success.

Driving more effective training

So what does this mean for businesses? In order to create sustainability, profitability, and a productive environment, leaders need to reevaluate their training practices and utilize new research to build communication between employers and employees.

According to Rapt Media’s survey, the vast majority of employees (82 percent) learn better from visual content like video than from static content like PDFs and other documents. More than half (60 percent) are bored by their company’s internal communications.

Companies have to: move beyond traditional, one-way training techniques that seem to inhibit absorption of information; reimagine internal content; and turn to new technology tools and platforms that will engage workers in a personalized way, including interactive content that promotes two-way engagement with training and learning materials. With only 32 percent of employees saying they are engaged in their workplace, it is apparent that companies need to take action.

The good news? Your employees can help. Research has found that 73 percent of employees have suggestions for their internal communicators and one in four would like more humor and entertainment, highlighting a greater need for companies to seek out feedback from their workforce and actively take notice of what their employees say will drive increased engagement.

Reimagining content

Meeting this need for greater engagement also requires a complete reimagination of content and an effort to invest in tools that are driven by personalization and two-way interaction. An investment in these kinds of tools will also offer companies valuable understanding of content engagement and behavioral insights.

If a company is unable or unwilling to change to improve outdated techniques, it’s not a question of whether its employees will leave, but when. And in the rare cases that they do stay, employees will be much less productive than they could be.

Instead of relying on dated training techniques and wondering about the productivity and knowledge of employees, businesses need to restructure training programs to effectively educate their staff. This will not only encourage employees to stay and grow with their companies, but also promote a sense of brand loyalty and drive greater retention and profitability.