Training at the Workplace

[Source: Training Guide 8th Ed.]

  • Introduction : Definition of Training at the Workplace
    – Training as a HR Function
    – Roles of Training in an Organisation
  • Roles of Trainers in an Organisation
  • The Training Process in Developing & Evaluating Training Programmes
  • Selection of Training Programmes
  • Conclusion

Training at the Workplace
Definition of Training at the Workplace
Generally speaking, employee training at the workplace is a company-planned effort to facilitate its employees� learning of their job-related competencies. Training is a continuous performance improvement process undertaken by the company for their employees. Because training provides employees with knowledge and skills to perform more effectively, preparing them to meet the inevitable changes that may occur in their jobs, it can play a key role in helping companies gain a competitive advantage so that they can successfully deal with the competitive challenges. Most skilled trainers know that training is an organised process to achieve improvement in performance in the workplace. New skills learnt will integrate with other systems and business strategies. However, what is learned will depend on several factors such as the design and implementation of the training process, how driven the trainees are in picking up those skills, and the learning climate of the organisation itself.

Training as a HR Function
In a small company, training is usually the responsibility of the founder and the employees. When the organisation grows bigger, typically someone within the company would be put in charge of human resources, either as a part or as his sole job responsibility. In mid to large organisations, training can be the responsibility of several human resource professionals or it can come from a separate function known as the human resource development department. Training then becomes one of the many functions that the human resource department can provide. Other functions include staffing (recruitment and selection), compensation, employee relations, health and safety, and human resource planning.

Roles of Training in an Organisation
The role of training in organisations is to help employees learn, grow and cope with the issues that are important to them. It is to improve the organisation�s effectiveness by providing employees with the Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes to enhance job performance. Truly effective training strategies and practices are those that meet the needs of the organisation while simultaneously responding to the needs of individual employees.

In most companies, training activities are provided by trainers, managers and in-house consultants. However, training activities can be outsourced, in that it is provided by individuals or training providers outside of the company.

Roles of Trainers in an Organisation
Typically, trainers either in-house or external trainers, play an important role in advising management on the many aspects of business functions and strategies :

  • They provide advice to management on training and development issues that affect business strategies and goals.
  • They assist management in the design and development of systems that affect organisational performance.
  • They advise management on the work system design and effective use of human resources.
  • They Identify learner needs; develop learning programmes; prepare content and learning aids, lesson and programme objectives and delivery technology.
  • They assist employees in identifying their strengths and weaknesses and development goals.
  • They advise management on ways to improve individual and group performance.
  • They evaluate training and development programmes to determine their effectiveness; and use these evaluations to make recommendations to managers.

At the identification of the need of a particular training, a training programme may be developed to address that need of the organisation. So the process of training is a systematic process based on building a series of steps to reach the ultimate level of high productivity.

The Training Process in Developing & Evaluating Training Programmes
Since training is a process or planned effort of an organisation for performance improvement of their employees, it is not just a programme conducted for the sake of conducting it. Successful and effective training is training that meets the needs of the organisation. In order for the organisation to improve and invest in further training, it must view training as a set of integrated processes by which the needs of the organisation and employees are analysed and responded to in a rational, logical and strategic manner.

The training process can be broken down into many separate phases which include:

Analysis phase
The analysis phase is the initial stage which determines whether or not there has been any performance problem
in the organisation, such as being indicated by profitability short falls, low level of customer satisfaction and high staff turnover, etc.

To determine a performance problem, Training Needs Analysis (TNA) can be conducted to determine if the performance problems faced by the company should be addressed by training. If training needs are identifi ed to be able to improve performance, the next phase will be the design phase for locating the solutions and for choosing the most beneficial one to meet the organisation�s objectives.
Development phase
This is the phase of developing the training programme so that it achieves the training objectives based on the inputs obtained from the design phase. All elements of a particular training programme such as course content, instructional method, facilities, manual, etc are determined during the development phase.
Implementation phase
This is the phase when all the aspects of the training programme are put together. In this phase, the trainer is made to familiarise himself with the facility, equipment and materials with no actual trainees present. Alternatively, the trainer may start with a pilot training group who can provide feedback or reaction for trainer to identify for improvement.
Design phase
In this design phase, more inputs are needed for identifying the development of training programmes. Factors such as training constraints, organisational and operational areas that expect support, learning styles
and culture of the organisation, etc need to be taken into consideration. These inputs are used in the design of the training programme to achieve the training and learning objectives at the worksite. The design phase also includes the identification of alternative methods of instruction in the formulation of the training programmes.
Outcome Evaluation phase
This evaluation phase is conducted at the end of the training programme or course to evaluate whether or not all the training objectives have been achieved. Using the
training objectives as the standard, it determines the effect of training on the trainees, the job and the organisation.

Selection of Training Programmes
What is a Training Programme?
A training programme is one of the many possible performance improvement solutions that emerge from the training process. These programmes are developed according to the training needs that already have been identifi ed. This development of the training programme is executed to meet the needs while addressing the requirements of the work or the task that is required to be done.

Alternatives & Factors
There are many alternatives that should be taken into consideration when choosing what is right and suitable for the business�s or organisation�s practices. These alternatives include apprenticeships and traineeships, vocational education and training in schools and the training for specific needs. Selecting a suitable training programme depends on the kind of business the organisation practices and the staff�s needs.

In developing a training programme, the employer needs to take into consideration the location, cost, duration, frequency, training hours (whether during or after business hours) and the method in which the training programme is delivered. The organisation can decide which kind of instruction is best for its needs. With the progress of technology, employing the use of electronic applications such as video conferencing and many other means does help provide for a more productive training programme.

For better productivity, training programmes should be specifi cally tailored to meet the requirements of both the business�s and the employee�s needs.

Types of Costs in Training Programmes
Costs of training programmes include the following:

  • Developmental Costs e.g. director�s time, in-house trainer�s time, external training expertise, materials, fee for programme purchase, etc.
  • Direct Costs e.g. trainer�s time, training facilities rental, instructional materials for trainers and trainees, equipment and hardware rental, travelling and accommodation expenses, fringe benefits for attending courses, refreshments, etc.
  • Indirect Costs e.g. clerical and administrative support�s salaries, in-house trainer�s preparation time, postage, telephone, pre & post training materials, top management time, etc.
  • Cost of lost productivity while trainees attend the training programme (or cost of temporary replacement while the trainees are away for training), etc.
  • Evaluation Costs e.g. cost of evaluator�s time, materials, administrative cost, cost of preparing report, traveling, etc to see whether the training was successful.

The total training cost can be determined by summing all the above costs.

Meaning of Some Training Glossaries
It is important to understand some of the terms that are related to training & industry:

  1. Skills
    Are defined as general capacities to perform a set of tasks developed as a result of training and experience. A person�s skills can be seen through the degree of �wellness� in the way this person carries out specificc actions related to his/her job. Skills are the outcome of knowledge in the sense of the concerned person knowing what to do and when to do it. When a person has a skill in some thing, it means he/ she is proficient at performing (doing) something, and not only knowing it.
  2. Skill-upgrade
    There are several steps involved in a skills programme. These are: (1) the skill level required to be identified. That means the level of basic skill that the employees need to achieve success in doing their jobs; (2) the assessment of the employees� current skill levels. Hence, training programme will be based on bridging the gap between the current skill level and the desired skill level. Emphasis on basic skills must be one of the important items in training programmes in relation to work problems to ensure their meaningfulness to the trainees. In workplaces of 24-hour operations that use several shifts of employees, the availability of basic skills training is inevitable and crucial to the employees during their off-shift times. Employees who lack basic skills try to hide this deficiency, so participation in basic skills training needs to be as private as possible because without this privacy, these employees who need these basic skill will not take part.
  3. Knowledge
    There are three elements referred to by the �knowledge� category of learning:
    • The acquired information that is kept in memory (declarative).
    • The organisation of this information to be put to use into what is already known (procedural).
    • Understanding of how, when and why information is used and what its usefulness is (strategic).
    Declarative knowledge represents the person�s store of factual information about something. The main elements of this kind of information are facts. When the person understands how and when to apply these facts, this kind of knowledge becomes procedural knowledge. The highest level of knowledge is strategic knowledge which is the knowledge that is used for planning, monitoring and revising goal-directed activity. This kind of knowledge needs the two lower levels of knowledge (facts and procedures). It refers to the person�s awareness of what he/she knows to achieve the goal. Knowledge is facts or procedures that individuals or teams of employees know or know how to do.
  4. Attitudes
    Attitude is a combination of beliefs and feelings that predispose a person to behave in a certain way. These are the employees� beliefs or opinions that help to adjust and support behaviour in the workplace. In a training context, this issue will be tackled in relation to the employees� learning of the training material and job performance. The positivity or negativity of the employees� feelings comes from the beliefs and the opinions they hold about objects or events (such as management, union, empowerment and training). Changing a person�s belief or opinion might change the desirability of the object or event. Motivation is affected by attitudes. That is why the latter is one of the important issues in training. Motivation can be seen in the goals a person chooses to pursue which may require hard work to achieve. These goals and the effort needed to achieve the said goals are influenced by how the person feels about things related to the goal (his/her attitude). And as one�s attitudes influence one�s behaviour, these attitudes need to be addressed by training. It is the process of cultivating the employees� attitudes to gain improvement of performance in the work.
  5. Learning
    Learning is the organised process of creating an opportunity to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSAs) to be prepared for current or future jobs. Training is the way through which learning can be obtained and how this learning is developed. There are many definitions to learning but in this specific case, it is the relatively permanent change in cognition (understanding and thinking) that results from experience that directly influences behaviour. The things that are learnt can be put into different categories. Traditionally, organisational psychologists use the categories �knowledge, skills & attitudes (or abilities) (KSAs) to refer to different types of learning outcomes. Abilities refer to general capacities related to performing a set of tasks that have been developed throughout time and come as a result of training and experience. Learning is a process of acquisition of knowledge by individual employees or group of employees who are willing to apply that knowledge in their jobs in making decisions and accomplishing tasks for the company.
  6. Competence
    It is the broad grouping of knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable a person to achieve success in a number of tasks. The person with competence possesses the knowledge which aids him/her to handle the job that is related to this knowledge successfully. Knowledge is not the only factor that ensures success in the task; basic skills are another factor that are needed besides knowledge to allow the person to be proficient in performing the tasks. Feeling and the love to perform the work or the tasks is another important factor that gives great satisfaction working on the details of a planned project. It is the employee�s attitude towards the work or the task that is to be performed. It is the combination of the (KSAs) besides other things, like visual acuity, patience and judgment which qualify the employees to be proficient. Competency is acquiring multiple factors that guarantee the mastery at a given job performance. This set of competencies should be linked to a set of behaviours that privilege the trainers with the ability of �knowing�. Competencies are useful for understanding how the KSAs combine to influence job performance. The KSAs determine what types of training will improve competencies to improve job performance.
  7. Education
    Education is different from training and has different gains from (KSAs). Training is generally focused on job specific KSAs, while education focuses on more general KSAs, related (but not specifically tailored) to a person�s career or job. Some companies provide training that is not designed to the specific job requirement of the employees but is directed to develop general reading and writing skills.
  8. Human Resource Development
    It is the integrated use of training and development, organisational development and career development that improve individual, group and organisational effectiveness. The Human resource development (HRD) department is a centralised training area (enacted by most medium to large organisations) as part of a human resource (HR) unit. The purpose of HRD is to improve the organisation�s effectiveness by providing employees with the competence and behaviour that improve their current or future job performance.

This chapter provides employers a better understanding of the concepts and roles of training at workplace. What is most important and valuable in training is the result in terms of the returns from the investment. This importance and value create increasing opportunities for the training functionality to enhance and improve operations of the company. The companies that put much consideration on training programmes are ensured of better financial results. What aids this is the enacting of improved operating methods through increased employee competencies. The effectiveness of any training programme is the same in large or small to medium-sized companies. The difference lies only in the usage of the methods to complete the process.

1. Vocational Training : Glossary of Selected Terms, International Labour Office Geneva 1986
2. Employee Training and Development , Raymond Noe, McGraw-Hill International Edition 2005
3. Effective Training – systems, strategies, and practices, P.Nick Blanchard, James W.thacker, Pearson International Edition 2004

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