Four Ways To Make Training Stick 

Girls in STEM Mentor jan Choudhury

study run in 2006 by Saks & Belcourt found that only 62% of people on a training programme tried to reapply their learning afterwards, dropping to 44% six months after the training. 

It is a common problem facing many organisations with a need to upskill their teams. They know that the daily priorities of running their business, leading projects and conducting research will always be more urgent than growing the capability of an organisation, even though they recognise the need for the latter and its importance. 

Training usually means a big time and cost investment, which doesn’t feel like a great return when there’s little change in people’s behaviour. To demonstrate how we help clients overcome this challenge, we’ve pulled together four ways to make training stick so people can reapply what they’ve learnt from the get-go. 

Panasonic brought in Untapped Innovation 18 months ago to discuss how to train large numbers of their organisation on “Insight-driven value”, from the basics of why it’s important and simple techniques to more advanced methodologies. We collaborated with Mindtap to provide expertise in applying principles of neuroscience to training organisations and OptimaRetail with their know-how on actioning shopper and retail data to grow markets. What resulted was an 11 module online programme, available in English and Japanese, packed full of relevant case studies and hands-on exercises, released throughout 2021. Let’s look at how we designed the training to make it stick. 

1. Ensure recipients are ready to learn 

Research by learning effectiveness expert Professional Robert Brinkerhoff has shown that 40% of learning fails because it doesn’t create the right context. Learners don’t understand how it could help them and aren’t excited or intrigued.  

Care was taken at the outset of the Panasonic training to ensure that internal Management were visibly laying out their vision via video. They set expectations and motivated the organisation, so all participants were clear on goals, understood why the training had been developed and were enthused to engage. Each module was clearly advertised with an overview of the content so users could determine the relevance for them, select what they needed, and take the online courses at a time that suited them. 

2. Plan the timescale so learning can be reapplied 

A further 40% of learning failure is apparent because recipients can’t transfer their learning into practice at the right time. Learning & Development expert Sophie James talks about structuring learning to make it meaningful and accessible with plenty of time in the workflow to prepare, attend the training and, importantly, apply the learning in everyday work.

For Panasonic, each new module was released several weeks apart, with content building upon skills learnt in the previous module. We set up a discussion forum after each module, moderated by experts to help learners engage at the right time after completing the training. 

3. Bite-size topics with focused, yet reinforced messaging 

Cepeda et al published findings in 2008 to show that in order to retain learning content, people generally need to study information on multiple occasions. And we know that an adult’s working memory, on average, can hold between 5-7 items at any one time, half of that when working in a foreign language or under stress. 

We designed each of the 11 modules for Panasonic around one focused topic, with no more than three key learning points included in each module to aid the retention of information. As the modules progressed, earlier concepts were revisited and interspersed with quizzes to help users gauge their progress. The discussion forum after each module provided further opportunity and encouragement for participants to revisit what they had learnt. 

4. Offer engaging content 

Psychologists have shown that the human brain learns best when having fun. Encouraging the release of small bursts of adrenalin can increase memory function, e.g. by asking participants to take centre stage and share in a forum or take a quiz. However, with adrenalin comes cortisol, the stress hormone, which can reduce cognitive function, so there needs to be a balance. Training should be kept calm and stress-free. Images and models engage an audience; for many, recognition and recall memory are stronger for visuals than words. Another strategy to engage learners is to show, not tell. Creating opportunities for participants to experience the learning first, for example, in a real-life case study, taps into Bandura’s Social Learning Theory and increases the chance of successful behaviour change.  

Each Panasonic module was brought to life with images or diagrams and sprinkled with case studies and hands-on exercises so participants could learn by doing, experience real-life situations, and benefit from little adrenalin boosts with quizzes. We also adopted a story-telling format since we know adults can retain 22 times more when the message is woven into a narrative.  

We were delighted with the engagement; around 425 people completed at least one course with 350 posts on the discussion board. Ratings for providing value and meeting expectations were high (7/9).  

Innovation Gym Training Sessions by Untapped

In the months since this successful Panasonic Insight-Driven Value training, Untapped has developed the Innovation Gym ® to cater for urgent innovation capability needs. Small groups can learn by doing as they work through interactive case studies with our expert trainers in 2-hour skill-boosting sessions, perfect for fast-moving projects. 

Download our menu of agile sessions and please get in touch to find out more. 

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Written by Sally Kemkers