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Oct 2018

A scientific approach to workplace learning

Blog posts

Sally Danbury

Sally Danbury

Nurture Marketing Specialist at Kineo APAC

Human capital is the workplace’s best asset. Workplace learning is therefore crucial to ensure employees possess the basic skills needed to carry out their jobs effectively. Not only in their current job, yet to consider future skills that will be required as their roles change and may even become obsolete. With the growing Skills Gap there is a need to upskill further to not become pigeon holed. By 2030 it is expected that workers will have two jobs or more at the same time or will have several careers throughout their working life. Read more about the Skills Gap and what it means to you 

When a learning strategy is successful, employee training has the capacity to promote the right knowledge, skills and abilities that produce both effective leaders and happily engaged employees.

Organisations continue to make healthy investments in employee learning, finds the Association for Talent Development’s 2017 State of the Industry report, which is sponsored by LinkedIn Learning and Organisations spent $1,273 per employee in 2016 on direct learning expenditure, compared with $1,252 in 2015.

The average number of formal learning hours used per employee grew, reaching 34.1 hours in 2016. A rise from 33.5 hours in 2015 and the fourth consecutive year in a row that has seen an increase in both the direct learning expenditure and the number of learning hours per employee.

Without the right level of preparation, evaluation, feedback or opportunities to consolidate the skills acquired, as much as 90% of what was learnt a year. Results published in journal ‘Human Performance’ indicates that there is substantial skill loss with non practice or non-use, with the amount of skill loss ranging from an effect size of -0.01 immediately after training to -1.4 after more than 365 days of non-use. 

In his report The Science of Training and Development in Organizations: What Matters in Practice Professor of Psychology Eduardo Salas breaks down the training cycle into three phases: before, during, and after.

Within each phase, check your critical considerations and let’s explore how to maximise positive learning outcomes.


The training needs analysis: conduct a Training Needs Analysis (TNA), allowing you to diagnose what needs to be taught, who should receive that training, and how that should be arranged.

The results of this exercise will generate insight into the expected learning outcomes, how the training should be designed and delivered, how the effectiveness of the training can be measured, and what organisational factors might help or hinder the training program.

In the workplace, creating a great learning climate – i.e., the physical, intellectual and emotional environment in which students learn – should include clear communication of the relevance and benefits of the training to the learner and set realistic expectations about how effective the training is likely to be.

Make sure expectations and reality coincide. Disappointment leads to quick disengagement, so be clear from the start.

  • Schedule accordingly: To minimise skill decay, schedule course delivery such that opportunities to utilise what has been learnt arise as soon as possible.
  • Inform staff about your training and attendance policy: Will the training be optional or mandatory? Consider the benefits of a blend of both.
  • Preparing supervisors and leaders: Supervisors and team leaders need to understand and be able to communicate the purpose, scope and expected outcomes of the training. This is necessary to create an environment where the training ‘makes sense’ – i.e., that it’s relevant, useful and necessary (and thereby more likely to be used and remembered).


Instructional strategies should be designed to directly achieve the organisation’s training goals.

This should be based on what is known about the learners and their activities.

  • Encourage a learning mindset: Individual learners will differ in their attitudes and approaches to learning. Develop a sense of ownership, goal orientation, and motivation. Courses tailored to accommodate these differences, steering learners towards a more effective mindset will maximise the effectiveness of the learning undertaken. Read more on the impact of learning personalisation 
  • Follow instructional principles: The training program needs to convey information to the learners; demonstrate the desired behaviour, understanding, and attitudes; create opportunities to practice; and provide performance feedback to the learner to show growth.
  • Use technology wisely: Online training is an ideal cost effective and convenient learning platform yet consider whether the subject material is truly suited to this mode of learning. Even though it may be more expensive to teach face-to-face, in certain cases – e.g., soft skills – enabling real-time teacher/student interaction is key.


What occurs directly following training can influence skill retention as much as the training itself. Whether or not trained skills do indeed transfer and are used on the job depends on how supportive the post-training environment is – one that allows employees to practice and use what they have learnt.

  • Remove any obstacles standing in the way of new learning implementation and ensure learners can apply what they have learnt as quickly as is practical.
  • Evaluate the training’s effectiveness: Does the course need ‘tweaking’ and does it have a positive ROI?  Generally, this is achieved by measuring reactions to the training and if it has led to measurable improvement in attitudes and job effectiveness.

Bridge the skills gap and adopt a 360 degree approach to upskilling to maximise learning retention

Sally Danbury

Sally Danbury

Nurture Marketing Specialist at Kineo APAC

Since the year immemorial Sally has exercised an avid passion for creativity with words, images and Pilates.  She is most content in the workplace when crafting enticing messages that inspire and engage.