At KPMG Australia (KPMG) we believe achieving transformative learning that powers business results requires focus in three key areas: 

  • Aligning learning strategy to the overall business strategy and capability needs.
  • Creating an eco-system of contextualised content and fit-for-purpose technology to enhance the learner experience and ground learning in the flow of work.
  • Delivering learning in a streamlined, automated and efficient way, using data insights to shift the dial on productivity.

The goal of organisational learning is to expand knowledge, develop skill mastery and embed new mindsets i.e. to build capability in a workforce; but successful execution requires a nuanced approach to learning design. From our observations, when learning is not relatable and lacks specificity to help individuals tackle new obstacles in their jobs, it fails to deliver business outcomes. At KPMG we believe contextualising learning is critical to reshaping workforce capability.

Why off-the-shelf aggregated learning content isn’t enough

L&D functions are often viewed as cost centres instead of as an investment in the future workforce. Coupled with budget cuts during challenging times, the lack of funding has pushed the market towards non-contextualised aggregated content, typically delivered via a Learning Experience Platform (LXP). In our experience, the lack of contextualisation has limited impact and cannot deliver the expected results L&D Leaders are looking for, making this is a serious concern.

Furthermore, the brain is excellent at removing irrelevant content, and in fact chooses not to engage with content or information when there isn't an associated context. Essentially, if the content has limited relevance, it has little chance of being committed to long-term memory. While it is possible to contexualise aggregated content, this is resource intensive. These are often neglected or cut back once content licences have been purchased.

Making learning stick will power results

The key to achieving impactful business outcomes through corporate learning is closely aligning learning with the overall organisational strategy. It also ensures that any required capability issues are correctly addressed. Furthermore, making learning stick at scale needs a holistic and comprehensive approach to enable contextual content that drives retention and uplifts workforce capability.

KPMG has drawn on our global experience and the science of learning to create our '5E learner engagement model' to embed new skills and maximise business impact.

5E learner engagement model

5E learner engagement model

Engage: Guide participants towards making emotional connections with the purpose, and answer the question, "why am I here?"

Expand: Ensure learning content is curated with a focus to helping participants broaden their knowledge.

Empower: Provide participants with the opportunities to "try out" their newly acquired knowledge and skills.

Evaluate:  Gauge feedback to embed learning and adjust mental models.

Embed: Reinforce the principle of learning in the flow of work as part of business as usual.

The benefits of KPMG’s '5E learner engagement model'

By applying KPMG's '5E learner engagement model', aggregated content is transformed into contextual learning that delivers greater impact. This results in guided, personal learning pathways that provide the best chance of achieving business outcomes.

Here's how:

  • Embedding experiential activities to apply in the workplace
  • Providing content in multi-modal and blended formats
  • Enabling choice and mobility
  • Facilitating social engagement
  • Giving learners a personalised experience

A critical element is to develop contextual content for the organisation and learners while also allowing for self-contextualisation. This minimises the gap between the content, the employee and their work.

For consistency and the highest impact, KPMG believes the approach needs to be scaled across the organisational curriculum to achieve the greatest impact on productivity and improved learning culture. A vision for learning supported by a set of guiding design principles will help with consistent design decisions and a highly visible, easy to navigate curriculum is key to allowing learners to take control of their own learning journeys.


1. Marton, F, 2014, Necessary conditions of learning.
2. Psychology Today, 2019, Memory is about context, not consolidation.
3. Dehaene, S, 2020, How We Learn: The New Science of Education and the Brain, Part Three.
4. Reed, M. S., A. C. Evely, G. Cundill, I. Fazey, J. Glass, A. Laing, J. Newig, B. Parrish, C. Prell, C. Raymond, and L. C. Stringer. 2010, What is social learning?

Further reading

Medina, J, 2020, Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school.
Vaughan, K., O’Neil, P., & Cameron, M, 2011, Successful workplace learning: How learning happens at work. 
Collins, J.W, 2007, The neuroscience of learning.
Davachi, L., Kiefer, T., Rock, D., & Rock, L., 2010, Learning that lasts through AGES. NeuroLeadership Journal, Issue 3, 53-63.

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