Learning, development programmes must be holistic

More and more organisations are investing in employee education and training.

Report by Paul Nyausaru

According to the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) most companies in developed countries spend more than a hundred billion dollars annually on employee learning and development with about 75% spent on in-house learning programmes.

(Human resource development) practitioners agree on the premise that satisfied employees are often the most productive. Many people will relate production to the satisfaction of employees on the level of pay and benefits that they get from their jobs. This may be true, but it is only part of the reason. Relationships in the workplace, as well as employees’ competence, also have a lot to do with employee productivity.

A good learning and development programme is holistic in approach and addresses the two important aspects that affect employee performance and productivity. To begin with, it must equip employees with the tools of the trade. Second, it must create a workplace culture of professionalism, loyalty, and commitment, and most importantly, warm and open relationships among employees.

The first aspect of education and training – skills development – is easier to accomplish than the second aspect. However, though the competency programme might be appropriate, it can always be undermined by unhappy and unmotivated employees.

There are many tools available to human resources development managers that can be used to formulate long term and short term learning and development  programmes.

The Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is the most potent tool of human resources development managers. Depending on how it is constructed, it can be used to expose most of employees’ problems and issues that affect performance, starting from lack of skills, strained relationships with co-employees, job dissatisfaction to simple poor work attitudes and habits. TNA results, plus information obtained from employees’ files, enable human resources development managers to complete an education and training program that corresponds to the needs of employees and organizations.

Managing a company learning and needs programme involves all employees. The human resources development department may be the lead agency in its formulation and responsible for the conduct of actual trainings or for bringing in external expert assistance, but line mangers have a crucial role in seeing to it that lessons are applied in actual situations. This is the reason why the first people that are required to learn the rudiments of human resource development are line managers who are directly responsible for employees’ performance.

It is common for human resources development personnel to consider the conduct of training sessions as the end of their responsibility to employees and company. This is not true. The learning and development programme is always ongoing and its responsibility extends to monitoring and evaluating results based on changes in employee behaviour.

If it improves performance or changes the environment of the workplace for the better, then it is effective. For human resources development, gathering feedback and tracking changes are the most efficient ways of evaluating the effectiveness of education and training programmes.

The effectiveness of your programme relies primarily on its quality and variety.

You could make one loaded with valuable information. However, you need to make sure that it is structured in such a way that your staff can, and will absorb as much of it as is possible.

Let us take, for example, the training programme that every company has – new employee training. This is the very first training you give to new employees. It is not limited to orienting your new staff about the company and its existing policies and procedures.
This is also where your trainees learn and fully understand their job positions, functions, and how they relate to the organisation as a whole. It includes expectations of their jobs, the skills they need to do and how they affect the company.

Unquestionably, this training is crucial to the successful operation of the company. So, how can this programme be made effective? It starts with having an updated training manual. Since this would serve as their visual guide, the manual is vital in preparing the new staff members for their positions.

There is need to keep in mind that the manual is not for the HRD manager or for your boss. It is for your trainees. Therefore, it should be   designed for them. It should be kept interesting and easy to understand.

Seating a new employee next to a seasoned employee would also be another effective technique in new employee training. Your new employees would see firsthand the many aspects of the job and how the concepts learned in the initial training are applied.

There is definitely a lot to learn in this training. However, it is said that a new employee would only absorb about 40% of the information from it.

Thus, there is still a need for further training. You also need to come up with objectives for your training programme. Once you have determined your objectives, you can then design an HRD training programme that would best meet these objectives.

Again, it is important to keep in mind who your participants are for this training. It must be tailored according to their needs. It would also help to keep a diverse group to encourage lively discussions. Always keep your training sessions fun and interesting.

Paul Nyausaru is a Training and Development Practitioner. He can be contacted on email pnyausaru@yahoo.co.uk, pnyausaru@gmail.com.Views contained in this article are personal.

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