Off-the-job training allows employees to focus on the learning objectives without the distractions of on-site daily operations. Training and development workshops, such as retreats or strategic planning events, provide opportunities for busy professionals to get away from routine tasks. Instead of answering phones, designing products, working on spreadsheets, attending meetings or supporting customers, employees get the chance to develop the skills they need to further their careers. Off-site events usually involve engaging an outside facilitator who can expertly guide the team through training activities. Measuring the effectiveness of the off-the-job training typically occurs at four levels.
Ensuring the effectiveness of off-the-job training typically involves planning the event carefully. By analyzing the audience needs, designing the learning objectives, developing the agenda and scheduling the event at the appropriate venue, training organizers provide a valuable experience to employees. Other types of off-the-job training include instructional programs sponsored by universities or government agencies to support on-the-job performance and adherence to local, state and federal regulations.
Determining participant satisfaction with off-site training usually involves conducting formative evaluations, such asking students how the training is going while the session is in progress. Once the event concludes, follow-up surveys allow students to indicate their agreement or disagreement with statements such as “What I learned and experienced will enhance my job performance,” “The course met its stated objectives,” “Content met my expectations” and “Off-site facilities met my expectations.”
Evaluating the effectiveness of off-site job training also involves determining whether students can prove they obtained the skills and knowledge. Informal self-testing helps participants gauge their progress at mastering the materials presented. Usually, formal testing conducted at the end of the event allows passing students to obtain a certificate.
Once back on the job, the effectiveness of off-the-job training can be measured by examining operational metrics. For example, off-site activities such as role playing and team building exercises help employees develop the skills needed to make effective decisions and manage time more effectively. Managers set performance goals for their employees. Linking improved performance directly to participation in the off-site training validates the importance of off-site activities for an employee’s career development.
Proving that an off-site job training program helps the business -- such as cost-saving benefits or improved customer satisfaction -- involves examining the organization’s operational metrics. Providing access to lectures, conferences, case studies, simulations and other training can be costly. By identifying performance gaps in the organization’s ability to achieve its strategic goals, training designers can align training interventions to fill those gaps where and when they are identified.
- Learning Solutions Magazine: Culture Change and Learning: Online Social Networks Enable Individuals
- Leadership Development Workshops: A Leadership Development Workshop for Your Management Team
- Personnel Management Resources: Employee Training and Development
- “The Offsite: A Leadership Challenge Fable”; Robert H. Thompson and James M. Kouzes; 2008
- International Society for Performance Improvement: Effectiveness of Training in Organizations: A Meta-Analysis of Design and Evaluation Features
Tara Duggan is a Project Management Professional (PMP) specializing in knowledge management and instructional design. For over 25 years she has developed quality training materials for a variety of products and services supporting such companies as Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq and HP. Her freelance work is published on various websites.