“So, what can L&D do to ensure all their great learning content is continually learned and retained by their employees? The short answer: Artificial Intelligence (AI).”

– Adrian Harvey

I would argue that few organisations possess the operational capacity to evidence they fully understand the competency level of every employee within their organisation, and how each employee is applying their knowledge to improve (or impair) business performance on a daily basis. A bold statement, but one that is qualified by the fact that more and more businesses around the globe are recognising this is a major issue and are turning to AI to solve it.

Reports suggest that we collectively spend in excess of £263.7 billion per year to train our employees, yet still fail to see evidential and sustainable return from this mammoth investment [1]. This is because the majority of ‘default’ training and delivery methods cannot address the root causation of historical training problems that exist.

Behavioural science dictates that we forget as much as 80% of what we are taught within the first 30 days when there is no attempt to retain it [2]. And we know that 79% of employee ‘knowledge and skill’ gaps are caused by businesses conducting employee training in an ephemeral fashion [3].

Still, reports show that most businesses were predominately reliant on self-elected employee learning and one-size-fits-all corporate training design in 2021 [4]. Which – when you really think about it – offers little in the way of evidence to say that training has been learned and retained for future application.

To further compound this issue, we know that the average level of tenured employee competency is just 52%, which means that employees only really know half of what you need them to know to optimally perform their role [5].

“No employee can be expected to act on training they have received but failed to learn. And no L&D team can confidently show their value without demonstrating how learning theory is translating into improved performance.”


This is how AI is changing the game for L&D.

In 2021, we undertook a joint case study initiative with Microsoft. Using our AI to continually assess and quantify the desired outcomes from their L&D initiatives, they could explicitly link the improvement in individual employee knowledge to targeted customer service KPI improvements.

The results achieved were significant for two reasons. Firstly, they attained their desired KPI improvements; FCR increased by 9%, CSAT increased by 5%, and Average Call Handling Times decreased by 12.5%. Employee knowledge increased by 19%, on average, across specific lines of business.

Crucially though, this study confirmed that employees who engage with micro-assessment learning methods consistently demonstrate greater knowledge and application of required learning content within their role.

The joint case study with Microsoft is available to access below. It provides an invaluable insight into how employee-centric learning AI can be used to support L&D teams to improve employee performance and positively impact targeted KPIs.

Thanks for reading,

Adrian Harvey


Download Case Study

Discover how Microsoft used Artificial Intelligence (AI) from Elephants Don’t Forget to improve employee in-role performance & KPIs

The problem:

Microsoft required a solution that would:

  • Enable them to continually assess and quantify the desired outcomes of their learning and development (L&D)  initiatives.
  • Gently repair knowledge and competency “gaps”.
  • Overtly link the improvement in employee knowledge and capability to improvements in specific customer service KPIs including: First Contact Resolution (FCR)Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)Help Resolved (HR), and Average Handling Time (AHT).

The results:


Average increase in employee knowledge across specific Lines of Business (LOBs)


Decrease in Average Handling Time


Increase in First Contact Resolution (FCR)


Increase in Help Resolved


Increase in Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

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“We now understand the capabilities of our teams right down to the employee level.”

– Microsoft

Download the full Case Study to discover how Microsoft made significant improvements to employee capability and business performance…

A version of this article was first published by HR Grapevine. Available here: The secret to effective L&D | February 2022 | myGrapevine Magazine (hrgrapevine.com)


[1] Training Industry, ‘Size of the Training Industry’, available here: https://trainingindustry.com/wiki/outsourcing/size-of-training-industry/

[2] German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850 – 1909) hypothesised that training material is exponentially forgotten from the moment a learner consumes it unless efforts are made to preserve it. His study – now famously characterised by the ‘Forgetting Curve’ – demonstrated the decline of retention over time. For more information, visit: https://trainingindustry.com/wiki/content-development/forgetting-curve/

[3] GOV.UK, The Department for Education, ‘Employer Skills Survey 2019’, available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/employer-skills-survey-2019

[4] The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, ‘Learning and Skills at Work Survey 2021’, available here: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/strategy/development/learning-skills-work#gref

[5] Elephants Don’t Forget, ‘Three-year competency assessment study’, 2017-19, available here: https://www.elephantsdontforget.com/

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