Learning transfer system inventory: The three top factors

2021.10.08 Fenix Bretz
Four things to think of to drive learning transfer

In 2017, spend on organisational training and development was upwards of 140 billion dollars. Organisations are investing a significant amount of money to ensure that their employees are well-trained and developed. Since learning transfer is fundamental to improve firm performance, it becomes a major concern. Research has indicated that up to two thirds of what employees learn is likely never put to use, and that ultimately, only 50% of training results in improvement. Theoretically then, half of a company's training budget could be waste which makes Kodo Survey a powerful tool to drive learning transfer.

As by a coincidence, we'll now write a bit about three of the most powerful ways to ensure that learning is used, and improves performance for the learner and the organisation. Years of experience and research have given us insights about what to ask yourself when reflecting on whether you drive learning transfer. 

This article will give you valuable information about the managers role to facilitate learning transfer and ensure a learning organisation. The advice are merely generic, but once you’re through this read, you’re ready to move beyond that. For example, Kodo Survey could give you details on what you specifically, programme by programme, course by course, need to pay attention to in order to increase skill development, drive learning transfer and maximize ROI of the training and development at your organisation.

important training



Managers and learners need to clearly understand the value and relevance of the training. When managers think the outcomes will be valuable, they tend to apply the skills learned. Similarly, when learners think the training is relevant, they develop the skills faster. The purpose and goals of the training need to be clear and the manager of the learner need to demonstrate the importance of the training and how to apply the learning from it. 

You can help influence how much learners value the training by helping the employees recognize the need for improvement, demonstrating how the skills learned in training will improve their performance and showing them how easily the new skills can be transferred. 

training design



Oh boy, oh boy - There’s a lot to think of here, but here come a few fundamental things that research, over and over again, has shown to be strongly related to the transfer of learning to the job:

Start with Learning Goals: All training should have clear objectives that are clearly communicated. By opening your training with goals, you help the learners understand exactly what type of performance you’re looking for, and how they can expect to use the skills on the job. Making the goals short-term and long-term will help the learners figure out where they should direct their focus and attention.

Make Sure It’s Relevant: Facilitators need to make sure that the skills being taught are applicable to the actual work that the employees perform. Avoid training for the sake of training, or making a training mandatory for all departments when the content is only relevant to one or two teams.

Practice, Practice, Practice: The training should have plenty of breaks and opportunity for practice. Learners should be able to work towards mastery during the training - rather than practicing for the first time on the job. Practice sessions should have feedback, reinforcement and remediation opportunities.

Be Clear about Rules: If you have a learning point to make, stating it in the form of a rule is more effective than saying it generally. What does that look like in action? It’s the difference between saying “Shutting down computers is good for the machinery.” vs. “Computers must be shut down at the end of the day to preserve equipment.”

Show Them What Not to Do: Just as it's good to demonstrate good examples and the consequences of that, giving your learners visual and detailed examples of how not to do and what happens then, can help them cement the learning.

learning culture



It’s important to figure out if your organisation is inhibiting or encouraging the use of new skills. An encouraging environment provides cues that prompt learners to use new skills and rewards for using the new skills correctly. It’ll also provide feedback and incentives from peers and supervisors. Alternatively, an inhibiting environment will fail to recognize that the new skills are being used, or punish learners (instead of remediating) for not using skills correctly

This is part of building the supportive team that an employee needs in order to transfer learning. Managers should actively make the effort with employees to discuss new learning, participate in trainings, and provide encouragement and coaching about how to use new skills on the job. Learners should also be encouraged to discuss ideas about the training with each other.

Perhaps most critically, your employees should have the chance to show what they’ve learned. One of the biggest obstacles to a successful transfer is a lack of opportunity - employees report that their workload may not allow them to continue to practice the new skills. Managers should consider adjusting it (although not adding to it) to make sure that the skills stay fresh -- if they don’t use it, they’ll lose it.

Read more about how you can work with your managers and the work environment to transfer learning in one of our other articles: 

A 3-step learning transfer model for your managers
The Key to Transfer Learning is with your Managers
Learning transfer strategies from the best businesses

At the end of the day, learning transfer - how to encourage it, how to predict who’ll struggle with it, and how to ensure it - can be tricky. By considering these factors you’ll be able to identify high-level opportunities that can increase learning transfer. But don’t stop there - organisations are raising their training spend every year. Request a free demo of Kodo Survey today and get full details about the effects, and lack of such, of your training courses and development programs. The more you know the better equipped you’ll be to produce high impact learning solutions.

training effectiveness

Want to know more?

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Now that we have used Kodo for a while, we see how easy it is to follow the learning impact and transfer of learning to the workplace. The insights we receive help us to continuously improve courses and programmes.

kodo survey
Kristoffer Laag
HR Strategist