Employers should not see training cutbacks as a good way of saving money during the economic downturn.
At times of recession and cutbacks the first things to go are the tea-lady, advertising and training. But why is this?
Benefits of such services are difficult to quantify accurately - so, very rarely does an organisation bother to try to evaluate it.
Some experts say “if you cannot measure it, you can’t manage it”.
Many organisations do not have in place even the most rudimentary metrics to make a starting point assessment of the current benefit of each.
Consequently, making a projection about the impact of disposing of or cutting back on them is impossible.
With training it has been suggested that to be able to evaluate the benefit, the following are key factors:
- acquiring knowledge followed by comprehension leading to application - the ability to apply both the knowledge and the understanding
- meaningful analysis (breaking down into constituent parts)
- synthesis (putting back together in a more effective and targeted way)
- evaluation or effective problem solving
So the starting point is, “How much do you know now - before the training?” Without that, the rest is only ‘accidentally’ achieved.
The situation is further confused by a lack of clear appreciation of what the training is intended to achieve.
Training firm Symmons Madge Associates says that whenever possible and practical, it asks that a tutor for an in-house course liaises with the person who actually wanted or promoted it - which very often is not the person who has booked the course.
“More enlightened organisations appreciate that it is not a case of ‘can’t afford to train’, but ‘can’t afford not to train’”
This is not so easy to achieve with the firm’s Training Centre courses. In this case, Symmons Madge sends to each delegate a “Delegate Pre-course Information Form”.
This has two benefits - it ensures the tutor is aware of any particular aspects to be covered and also identifies whether there is a mis-match between the delegate’s perception of the course and the intended content.
The key to establishing the benefit is to begin with an initial delegate self-assessment, then at the end of the course to carry out a similar assessment.
A comparison of the two, when conveyed to both the delegate and the employer, gives a tangible indication of the course’s value.
Heightened delegate attention
These two assessments heighten the attention and involvement of the delegates. How many of us can remember our attitude to those modules at college and university which did not have an “examination” compared with those that did?
Many organisations have reduced or curtailed more formal training and staff development.
On a positive note, others such as Arup, Jacobs, Kier, Ramboll, Royal Haskoning & Skanska, clearly appreciate that one of the differences between themselves and their competitors is the quality of the knowledge and skill of their staff.
As a result, these far-sighted organisations have continued and in some cases increased their commitment to ongoing formal staff training and development during this challenging period, so they can reap future benefits.
The more enlightened organisations appreciate that it is not a case of can’t afford to train, but can’t afford not to train.