For many employees Training is a rite of passage and required for the certifications and knowledge needed to progress in their careers.

While organisations may take the time to prepare an employee for training and budget for them to attend a learning course, most organisations still struggle to assess and support the transfer of learning from training programmes into the workplace.
According to the American Society for Training and Development, there is a 70/20/10 rule when it comes to learning and development. Research shows employees learn:
• 70 percent through real-life and on-the-job experiences.
• 20 percent through mentoring or coaching.
• 10 percent through formal training.

Therefore, organisations must ensure that learning be applied on the job – in an immediate way – to improve actual employee performance and generate a positive business impact.

More than 3,000 government and commercial training-related managers assessed three key phases in the application and transfer of learning: pre-training strategies, post-training reinforcement and rewards or incentives used to motivate employees.

Overall, the study highlights several weak areas in the on-the-job application of learning, including manager support, trainee preparation, incentives, and an overall formal design and measurement process. The findings show that:
• 60 per cent of those surveyed do not have a systematic approach to preparing a trainee to transfer, or apply, learning on-the-job.
• When asked what specific rewards motivate trainees, almost 60 per cent say the “possibility of more responsibility”, followed closely by an impact on their HR/performance review. Only 20 per cent indicate that there is any financial reward or other incentives.
• 63 per cent say managers formally endorse the programme, while only 23 per cent of managers hold more formal pre- and post-training discussions.

But most surprising, the study suggests that organisations start out optimistic and hopeful that they are fully committed and engaged in the transfer of learning, but upon further questioning, one finds that hope and reality are two very different things when it comes to the transfer of learning in the workplace.

For example, while two-thirds of respondents estimate that they apply more than 25 per cent of training knowledge back on-the-job, they have little concrete proof. Almost 60 per cent say the primary method for proving or measuring this estimate is either informal/anecdotal feedback or “simply a guess”.

The study points out some striking contradictions in how well organisations think they transfer learning and the lack of proof to back up their estimate of learning transfer or on-the-job application. Client experience at ESI shows us that organisations often fail to establish success criteria or identify expectations for learning engagements. This is a key pre-training strategy in order to measure trainee performance against agreed upon standards.

Through open-ended questions, the survey also asked respondents to share specific learning transfer tactics and identify best practices. The responses resemble a wish list of actions that management or sponsors should do more of, and they fall broadly into the following areas:

• Incorporate real projects in the training.
• Conduct more training and/or better marketing and communication on what exists.
• Communicate a transparent measurement strategy.
• Establish change management guidelines.
• Increase managers’ involvement before and after training.
• Make training more relevant.