Employee Motivation, the Organizational Environment and Productivity

Human resource management functions and strategy

Human Resource Management

Function 7: Employee education, training and development

In general, education is 'mind preparation' and is carried out remote from the actual work area, training is the systematic development of the attitude, knowledge, skill pattern required by a person to perform a given task or job adequately and development is 'the growth of the individual in terms of ability, understanding and awareness'.

Within an organization all three are necessary in order to:

  • Develop workers to undertake higher-grade tasks;
  • Provide the conventional training of new and young workers (e.g. as apprentices, clerks, etc.);
  • Raise efficiency and standards of performance;
  • Meet legislative requirements (e.g. health and safety);
  • Inform people (induction training, pre-retirement courses, etc.);

From time to time meet special needs arising from technical, legislative, and knowledge need changes. Meeting these needs is achieved via the 'training loop'. (Schematic available in PDF version.)

The diagnosis of other than conventional needs is complex and often depends upon the intuition or personal experience of managers and needs revealed by deficiencies. Sources of inspiration include:

  • Common sense - it is often obvious that new machines, work systems, task requirements and changes in job content will require workers to be prepared;
  • Shortcomings revealed by statistics of output per head, performance indices, unit costs, etc. and behavioral failures revealed by absentee figures, lateness, sickness etc. records;
  • Recommendations of government and industry training organizations;
  • Inspiration and innovations of individual managers and supervisors;
  • Forecasts and predictions about staffing needs;
  • Inspirations prompted by the technical press, training journals, reports of the experience of others;
  • The suggestions made by specialist (e.g. education and training officers, safety engineers, work-study staff and management services personnel).

Designing training is far more than devising courses; it can include activities such as:

  • Learning from observation of trained workers;
  • Receiving coaching from seniors;
  • Discovery as the result of working party, project team membership or attendance at meetings;
  • Job swaps within and without the organization;
  • Undertaking planned reading, or follow from the use of self–teaching texts and video tapes;
  • Learning via involvement in research, report writing and visiting other works or organizations.

So far as group training is concerned in addition to formal courses there are:

  • Lectures and talks by senior or specialist managers;
  • Discussion group (conference and meeting) activities;
  • Briefing by senior staffs;
  • Role-playing exercises and simulation of actual conditions;
  • Video and computer teaching activities;
  • Case studies (and discussion) tests, quizzes, panel 'games', group forums, observation exercises and inspection and reporting techniques.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of training is done to ensure that it is cost effective, to identify needs to modify or extend what is being provided, to reveal new needs and redefine priorities and most of all to ensure that the objectives of the training are being met.

The latter may not be easy to ascertain where results cannot be measured mathematically. In the case of attitude and behavioral changes sought, leadership abilities, drive and ambition fostered, etc., achievement is a matter of the judgment of senior staffs. Exact validation might be impossible but unless on the whole the judgments are favorable the cooperation of managers in identifying needs, releasing personnel and assisting in training ventures will cease.

In making their judgments senior managers will question whether the efforts expended have produced:

  • More effective, efficient, flexible employees;
  • Faster results in making newcomers knowledgeable and effective than would follow from experience;
  • More effective or efficient use of machinery, equipment and work procedures;
  • Fewer requirements to implement redundancy (by retraining);
  • Fewer accidents both personal and to property;
  • Improvements in the qualifications of staff and their ability to take on tougher roles;
  • Better employee loyalty to the organization with more willingness to innovate and accept change.

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