This article describes how investments in many types of training programs are usually wasted, and how to implement the best available options for enhancing learner retention and increasing your organization's ROI.

The Problem

Do any of these challenges sound familiar to you?

  • We spent quite a bit of money to train our staff, and now 6 months later nobody is using it!
  • Everybody liked the program, and they were positive when they walked out the door, but nothing seems to have really changed….
  • Our senior leaders are complaining that we didn't get the results we were after, in spite of the significant investment we made!

These scenarios happen all too often today. There are 3 key reasons why your training investment may be wasted:

  1. All skill learning involves physically growing new neural connections in the brain.
  2. It takes lots of practice and an extended period of repetition of skills to stimulate this growth and establish these neural connections.
  3. Improving behavior with new skills means working against habits that have been ingrained for decades.

It sounds like a daunting task to overcome these hurdles, doesn't it? But today there are new strategies, resources and technologies that can overcome these obstacles and really make learning stick.

The Solution

If you perceive training not as an event, but as a process designed to reinforce behavior over the long run, you will see long-term behavior change and increase your ROI from learning initiatives. An excellent way to do this is with a “blended approach” to learning, with a great deal of emphasis on the live virtual classroom.

About Live Virtual Learning

Live Virtual Learning is growing in use because it is extremely cost-effective, does not involve travel for your learners, and can be quickly customized to your immediate needs. But there is an even bigger benefit that is frequently overlooked:

It is ideal for delivering a “process” that helps learners apply the new skills back on the job.

Most live virtual programs are short: only about 60-90 minutes long. They focus on just a few key skills to be implemented before the next session. They provide an ideal format for learners to commit and share their key action steps to be implemented between sessions. This encourages accountability and greater follow-through on the actions that embed learning and create greater productivity.

The Importance of Reinforcement and an Ongoing Learning Process

The use of reinforcement and ongoing “touch points” is critical for enhancing learner retention. Without an ample period of skill reinforcement, an organization’s investment in training will not result in changed behavior patterns.

The key is to think of training not as an event, but as a long-term process. We have found that the use of virtual training, provided in short sessions, provides an excellent way to economically and efficiently create reinforcement opportunities and enhance learner retention. It also encourages an additional element of accountability when each participant must report the actions taken on their Development Plan, as created in the live virtual classroom.


Holding participants accountable increases the chance that they will follow through on the actions identified to enhance their performance. When they know they will be held responsible to show evidence of improvement, their motivation to work on performance issues dramatically grows. When the participant shares his or her Development Plan with the immediate manager, it helps the manager to not only coach the individual where needed, but hold him or her accountable for following though on the plan as well.


The bad news is that it’s extremely hard to improve performance when less effective behaviors have been ingrained for years. The good news is that it CAN be done when:

  • A targeted training program is provided
  • It’s delivered in short increments and participant action plans are generated
  • Learning is reinforced over time
  • The individual is held accountable for improvement

The primary viewpoint needed is to view training not as an event, but as a process of ongoing learning and follow-up. Live virtual training can provide an excellent vehicle for helping learners retain and apply key concepts learned back on the job.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Cullen is President of Quantum Learning Solutions, Inc. near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She has developed and presented live virtual training programs to hundreds of participants worldwide. For additional information, contact 800-683-0681 or visit