The Top 7 Findings from New Learning Transfer Research

Emma Weber

Together with Lentum Ltd, we’re very excited to officially launch the 2017 Learning Transfer Research: Insights for Impact!

It’s been fascinating to analyse the data and to really see what’s happening inside organisations. Thanks to everyone that contributed and shared their experiences.

To our knowledge, this is the first report of its kind in recent years and the first to look globally at the learning transfer issue. Although a number of other studies and academic research papers have been completed and published in the past, they have not been updated for a number of years. The purpose of this research is to understand what’s happening on a global level, right now, with this important and often neglected issue.

It was our aim to take a snapshot of where organisations feel they are in their own journey with learning transfer. By carrying out this research we hope to drive understanding, interpret trends, and inform on an international level. Our goal is to assist organisations in moving towards a more focused learning transfer approach, increasing the value and impact of all their learning interventions, both on the individuals involved and the wider business.

Please read on for the top 7 findings from our new learning transfer research, or you can download the full report HERE.

 1) Formal classroom learning is not dead

96% are still using classroom delivery as one of their learning delivery methods, alongside other online and mobile solutions.

2) The primary goal for learning

The UK and Australia are focusing on driving business results with learning, and are looking at the broader organisational level, compared to the USA, where people are concentrating on supporting individuals with their performance.

3) How is L&D viewed by the organisation?

Over a third of respondents feel they are seen as strategic advisors within their business. However, only 18% are evaluated on their success in improving actual job performance and 20% struggle to get approval and/or resources to provide effective learning interventions.

4) Learning is still limited at creating real change

  • 67% of respondents reported that less than 40% of learning is sustained into long term job performance improvement.
  • Only 7.7% of respondents felt their approach to behavioural change post learning was highly effective. An overwhelming 76% assessed it as non-existent or could be improved.
  • 29% don’t actually know whether their learning interventions are benefitting job performance – and yet 30% of all respondents suggest that the function of learning is to support employees in performing their jobs well.

5) Managers are not playing a huge role in supporting learners

46% suggest that managers are not significantly involved in supporting their direct reports before or after a learning initiative.

6) Coaching culture is key

At organisations where coaching is practiced at every level in the business, double the number of respondents report that their organisation’s investment in learning is extremely beneficial. Plus, four times the number of contributors report that the effectiveness of their efforts to sustain learning is highly effective. And twice as many report that they are viewed as a strategic partner within their business.

7) Evaluation – the sweet spot

Only 19% of contributors survey learners 8 weeks+ after learning. This is the sweet spot where learning transfer and behavioural change can be observed and measured.


What people are saying about the learning transfer research: 

Donald H Taylor
Chairman –  Learning Technologies UK, The Learning & Performance Institute & Learning Skills Group
“While much of the contents of this report makes difficult reading for an L&D professional, there are signs of positive trends in this report, too, as well as useful advice. The most positive thing about this report is that it has been written at all. It shows, as the authors point out in their introduction, that the importance of learning transfer is being recognised once again, after too long a pause. My hope is that it inspires L&D professionals to consider their work from a different view point, and to take practical steps to focus on the ‘why’ of their role as much as on the ‘how’ of their craft.”

Download the report here for the full low down!

Emma Weber

Emma Weber is a recognized authority on the transfer of learning. As CEO of Lever – Transfer of Learning, she has helped companies such as Telstra, Oracle and BMW deliver and measure tangible business results from learning. Emma has also been a guest speaker at learning effectiveness conferences worldwide and authored the hugely successful book Turning Learning into Action. Much more detail around the issues and solutions examined in this article are available in the book – please feel free to download a free chapter.