So if the UK isn’t as productive as it could be (according to the Office of National Statistics, UK GDP per worker fell relative to all the other G7 countries except Italy and Germany), and yet we’re seeing continued investment (albeit reduced in some sectors) in training, what’s going on? I think there are several possible reasons:
- ‘Entitlementitis’ – employees are in ‘gimme gimme’ mode and, whilst there is a high expectation that training will be provided, there can be a low understanding of this being a two-way contract between employer and employee.
- ‘Conscripts vs Volunteers’ – we’ve all seen or suffered the participant, or rather attendee, who doesn’t “know why I’ve been sent on this course” (conscript), and how different their experience of the exact same training can be to that of a volunteer, who knows they are there for a particular reason, and is motivated by that.
- ‘Matrix moment’ – when the participants seem to think that, just by turning up, they will experience what only happens in movies, when characters can (by accident or fiendish design) suddenly sprout the skills required.
- “I haven’t got time to apply it” – which can mean several things: the workload has followed the participant into the training to such an extent they cannot concentrate; the link between the topic and their role is too tenuous for them to see ways to apply it; their line manager won’t tolerate the temporary drop in productivity as the new skill-set is learned back on the job.
What’s to be done? Some thoughts:
- Make an organisational shift from, “We do this to you” to, “We provide this for you and in return you xyz”. Extremely powerful when walked and talked from the very top.
- Have short, clear lines of sight from training investment to the business needs and communicate these with impact.
- Develop case studies of positive impact training ROI.
- Create a bursary fund, for which employees have to apply, stating how they will deliver ROI on the training.
- Encourage individual responsibility and accountability in training through the appraisal system and follow-ups. In practice, this could mean the individual commits to improve at X and takes responsibility to research different training methods to support them in this, which they then present for approval. On completing the training they then discuss with their line manager how the ROI is being/has been achieved.
Hopefully this will seem incredibly basic to some of you reading this post; however, there will be others out there who I believe could greatly benefit from applying even one or two of these ideas.