Training is a human resource function that involves developing employees’ skills, knowledge and abilities to meet the organization’s needs. Training creates a competent, motivated and high-performing workforce that is prepared to meet future demands. It also maximizes employee potential, leading to higher productivity. The HR department may encounter problems in implementing training due to inappropriate programs, lack of interest and management support and insufficient budget.
When performance problems arise, the usual response is to provide training. However, training may not always be the appropriate solution. Training is often given as a reaction to perceived needs without taking time to analyze the root cause of performance issues. A training-needs assessment looks at gaps between current and desired performance, analyzes core problems and recommends interventions. Sometimes, the right response may not be training but other management solutions, such as improving work process, changing the work environment or communicating expectations.
Training is a two-way process. Management provides learning opportunities, but employees must show interest by participating. The real test of learning is when staff internalize and apply new knowledge to their jobs. When employees fail to take responsibility for their own development, training does not succeed. The HR department must engage employees even before training is conducted by soliciting feedback, suggestions and ideas. Employees show greater acceptance if they set their own objectives and recommend training based on their specific needs.
Training does not start and end in the classroom. The organization must provide a learning environment where employees are encouraged to develop new skills, acquire knowledge and strive for self-development. Without management support, staff will not be motivated to upgrade their skills. This includes providing time and resources, such as meal and travel allowances, to participate in training. It involves conducting regular follow-up after training. Employee development must also be a significant aspect of the performance review.
Training is an expense that some companies are not willing to pay. Small organizations may not be able to afford to hire a training consultant or to send their employees to formal training programs. But training is now more accessible through the use of technology. Online courses have made it easier and less costly to train. Organizations can also use other training tools that do not cost anything, such as mentoring, on-the-job training and shadowing.
Return on Investment
Training is an investment that must show returns. Often, it is difficult to see the actual impact of training. An evaluation form completed at the end of training only shows participant reactions. Senior management needs concrete proof, such as increase in productivity and sales. Training must also result in a decrease in errors, customer complaints, accidents and down time. Training becomes of value when it contributes to the bottom line. The HR department must provide metrics that support the training expense.