Friday, October 21, 2016

Why your training doesn’t work

Are you getting the ROI you expect?


According to the Association for Talent Development’s 2014 State of the Industry Report, organizations spend an average of $1,208 per employee on training and development. For companies with fewer than 500 workers, that number is even higher, coming in at $1,888 per employee.
It is estimated that U.S. companies spent $160.0B on training in 2015. While smaller companies spent more per employee, they logged fewer hours of training, 27 vs. 36 for large companies.

That’s 27 hours per year. It is commonly held that people forget about 42% of what they learn after 20 minutes, after a month, it grows to more than 80%.

This information gives us a look into explaining why much training within the workplace is not as effective as companies expect it to be.


One and Done
Training is often presented as a one-time event. It’s expected that dumping a huge amount of facts and information on participants will have the desired effect of "teaching" them what you want them to know or do. Participants often don’t have the opportunity to put the training into practice, and/or supervisors don’t reinforce the training after it’s delivered. Training content needs to be refreshed and reinforced over time. With no practical follow-up or meaningful assessments, you reach that nearly 90% loss of skills/knowledge of the training topic. How are you going to allow employees to practice? How are you going to provide feedback and assess training success?

Relevancy Mismatch
High level theory and information about the importance of strategic thinking, good management principles or the necessity for a harassment-free workplace are great. But trainers often neglect to provide concrete steps participants can take to employ those theories. Employees need to know exactly what to do so they can put training into practice and do their jobs effectively. Training should also teach employees how and where to access facts and information presented for future reference. It ought to help participants get access to websites, manuals, checklists, etc. where such information is put into practical terms. People cannot memorize everything in a one-time session.

Needs Mismatch
Often organizations don't take the time to analyze what their training needs are. Figure out who needs training on what topics and what style of training will work for the intended audience.

Climate Alignment
Organizations need to set the right climate for learning. Employees are pretty good at figuring out what’s really important by the actions of management. If the organization isn't sending the right signals, people won’t use it. "Walk the Talk" is a relevant concept here. If your employees don’t see company management employing the principles presented in the training, they probably won’t internalize it, either. Having one training session on a topic and then dropping it is a good signal that management doesn’t really place a great deal of importance on the subject.

Lack of Measurement
Assessment should be done on a continuous basis, both formally and informally. Supervisory and management staff needs to continuously assess if their employees have learned and are utilizing the training. Measure results to determine if training was effective and when and what type of training follow-up is appropriate.


Whether it’s hard or soft skills training, staff development is essential – and employees desire continuous learning. Doing it the right way will help ensure the dollars you spend give you the return you expect.

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