Why staff training is often ineffective

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Written by Alice Withers on 24 July 2015

Reading time: 1m 30s.

There can be many reasons why training doesn’t have the desired effect. It can be due to a poorly designed programme, an ineffective trainer, staff being unable to implement the training in the workplace, or many other reasons.

One major factor that can determine training’s effectiveness is staff motivation. Higher motivation has been linked to greater skill acquisition, higher post-training confidence, and stronger intentions to apply learning in the workplace.

Motivation can be affected by any number of factors, from how much sleep participants have had to their understanding of why they have been sent on the training. Of course, staff choosing to go on the training programme (rather than being sent by their manager) can be linked to motivation, but research by Patrick and colleagues (2012) has gone one step further and suggested that whether staff are in their chosen jobs can affect motivation and therefore training outcomes.

Their research found that those staff who were in a job they had chosen showed higher pre-training motivation, which led to greater knowledge acquisition and greater intention to apply the learning in the workplace. This suggests that training is more likely to benefit staff who are in their chosen jobs than other staff.

Training needs assessments and employee engagement surveys are easy ways you can investigate whether your staff are in their chosen jobs, or are lacking motivation. By using these tools not only can you identify the best staff to go on a training course to gain a return on investment (ROI), but you can also use the findings to address any issues around motivation which means you’ll get an even better ROI from your staff training in the future.

References: Patrick, J., Smy, V., Tombs, M., & Shelton, K. (2012). Being in one's chosen job determines pre-training attitudes and training outcomes Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 85 (2), 245-257 DOI: 10.1111/j.2044-8325.2011.02027.x.

Occupational Digest, Training is more effective for those in their chosen job​.



About the author
Alice Withers is a researcher at People 1st. She can be contacted at alice.withers@people1st.co.uk