Saturday, April 16, 2011

Employee Training

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Each day billions of people worldwide report to work and carry out their assigned tasks. How do they know how to do their work? How do they know what is expected of them? Is their job a career job? Is their room for advancement? Does their company provide any education for employees? These are just a few of the questions that will be addressed in this paper. The main focus of this paper will be to discuss training habits of multinational companies and to provide the reader with a good review of what training and development is all about in a 1st century company.

First, it is important to distinguish if there is a difference between training and development. “Training refers to the methods used to give new or present employees the skills they need to perform their jobs” (Dessler). Development can be most loosely defined as the advancement of an employee’s existing skills to help them meet new needs or to prepare them for new roles. Therefore, the difference between the two can be decided as development builds on existing skills for more than direct job related activities and training gives employees new skills or knowledge that will assist in their job performance. However, both are used hand-in-hand as employers seek to make their employees more knowledgeable and their companies more competitive.

“Training’s focus has broadened in the past few years…to also mean remedial education training, because quality improvement programs assume that employees can produce charts and graphs, and analyze data” (Dessler). This is a change from jus thirty years ago when training was teaching employees how to mold parts with their hands and run assembly lines with buttons. Today computer-generated programs run those same sequences. The skills necessary for those same tasks now require a higher level of training from the companies who employee those people.

In order to provide that level of training there are several things that must take place within an organization. “The first step in training is to determine what training, if any, is required” (Dessler). Training would include the evaluation of what skills are needed to perform a job and also the assessment of the skills employees already have. Therefore, the gap between the two becomes the subject of training.

There are two methods by which to measure training needs. The first being task analysis. This is used mainly for new employees and breaks the job into subtasks according to what the employee is responsible for (Dessler). Once the tasks are surveyed it becomes much easier to know what is the responsibility of the employer to give the employee the tools to succeed.

The other option for training analysis is to use performance analysis. This method applies to existing employees. “Performance analysis means verifying that there is a significant performance deficiency and determining whether that deficiency should be rectified through training or through some other means (such as transferring the employee or changing the compensation plan)” (Dessler). Almost any of the performance reviews discussed in class would work in determining these needs. Once these needs are evaluated it is then open to the employer what method of training they should use.

The text identifies the next step in training as setting training objectives. “Training, development, instructional objectives are defined as a description of a performance you want learners to be able to exhibit before you consider them competent” (Dessler). It is necessary to set these objectives within reach of the employees that will complete the training program. The most personal way to do this is to create a personal achievement plan for each employee. In the ideal world this would make for the most success for the employee and employer.

However, costs prevent companies from creating an individual plan for every employee. Instead, companies are setting other methods to supervise employee progress. The insurance industry has begun to hire training managers and place them under the human resources division of their companies (Horner). This is the key to cost efficiency and to employee training. Organizations have learned that training is needed, but costs are also important. By hiring a professional to handle the training process, companies save big money in splitting human resource functions.

There are several training techniques. On-the-job training is the most familiar of the training methods. However, there are several sub-methods of this section. The first is apprenticeship training. This is where new employees are matched to older and more experienced employees (Dessler). They build their skill base by watching and performing tasks with the veteran. The next type is simulated training. It is a technique in which trainees learn on the actual or simulated equipment they will use on the job but are actually trained off of the job (Dessler). This method is popular in jobs where putting new employees right to work is costly in terms of mistakes and slow speeds. The industries include auto-industries and other expensive product driven businesses. Vestibule training is the final type of on-the-job training. This is where employees are trained on the job with simulators opposed to real experience.

Audiovisual and distance learning techniques are also popular in today’s workplace. This method includes the use of films, closed-circuit television, audiotapes, and videotapes (Dessler). Teletraining is the use of television equipment to make up for distance in the training process. Dessler identifies AMP Incorporated as an industry that uses this form of training. With facilities in twenty-seven countries outside the United States, this form of training has proved to be the most inexpensive and the most effective. It allows for consistency across national borders and in all areas of training. This method is at the forefront of training for 1st century multinational companies.

Computer based training has also become a popular method of employee training. “In computer based training the trainee uses a computer-based system to interactively increase his or her knowledge or skills” (Dessler). Pacific Northwest uses the training programs at all of their facilities to train employees. It allows for an objective training regime to be implemented and be measured on the same scale. FedEx Corporation also is a subscriber to this form of training and expects to save more than $100 million with the plan (Dessler).

Training can occur in several forms. Two other methods are the use of CD-ROM and the Internet and the use of learning portals at job sites. These both allow flexibility in the way managers choose to train their employees. The location is more elastic as is the time of the training session. Each offers advantages to businesses that are smaller. Multinational corporations would have a more difficult time with this method because it limits the number of employees who can use it at one time.

The issue of training is presented in organizations around the world. Some nations seem to have a better grasp than others on what training should entail. “Canadian workers are well educated but inadequately trained” (Canadian Labour Congress Report (CLC)). The same report finds that “less than 10% of the employed adult workforce” participates in training programs. This figure is 10% less than that of the United States. It also outlines a program provided by the government that would seek to close the gap between Canada and the United States. The plan would be cooperative between the government, private businesses and higher education institutions. It would cost around $7 billion and would provide up to seven weeks of paid leave for employees who seek training (CLC).

Japan is a country that does extremely well in the area of training. It was found that Japan spends slightly more per employee on training than does the Unites States. Japan has a theory that workers should be well educated and they will perform well if they are. This leads companies to spend billions of dollars each year on development (Overman). Training begins with hiring in Japan and continues throughout employment. The United States has been found to only train part of the workforce and only when convenient. The article discusses that only recently have American companies begun to realize training is the key to productivity and profits. In perspective, it was found that members of the Asian Business Council “spent on average 5% of their payroll on training” (Bangkok Post). This figure is very similar to American multinational organizations.

Beyond employee training, it is also important to train the managers, supervisors and executives who will be leading the training. “Management development is any attempt to improve managerial performance by imparting knowledge, changing attitudes, or increasing skills” (Dessler). Professional management training should include in-house programs such as courses, coaching, and rotational assignments, professional programs such as seminars and executive programs at universities. The training of management serves several purposes, to change attitudes, to prepare executives to be good supervisors, to prepare young managers to become executives and to provide good leadership for the future of the organization.

There are several types of managerial training and development. “Job rotation means moving management trainees from department to department to broaden their understanding of all parts of the business” (Dessler). The advantage to moving a manager around is to diversify that person’s experience. As they move up in management those experiences will become more valuable as they are forced to make broad decisions that effect more than one division. The relationships formed while moving are also essential to a good managers ability to stay connected with the many employees in a company.

Action learning is giving managers time to work on large projects, projections and problems solving in order to sharpen their management skills (Dessler). This type of work is often solo and does not cost much for the company. The manager is, however, more likely to have the ability to solve complex problems for the company. The case study method is very similar to this. The manager is given a scenario and is asked to work it out (Dessler). This allows he or she to develop skills necessary in handling all situations that might occur as manager.

Management games are also a very important component of the management-training curriculum. “Trainees are divided into five or six person companies, each of which has to compete with others in a simulated marketplace” (Dessler). These companies are asked to set goals and their performance is monitored by the instructor. This type of training provides the trainee with team learning and the simulation of a real management experience.

The other two types of management training are outside seminars and university related programs (Dessler). Each offers benefits separate from the company on-the-job training. This type of training is more theory based and offers the trainee an opportunity to get educated on the latest ideas in management theory and application. The education benefits the company because managers are more confident in what they do and more importantly they are educated on what to do in scenarios that are presented in a technologically advanced workplace.

Many companies are finding that leadership training should be applied to more than just potential managers and executives. “Employees who are given the opportunity to develop leadership skills are more inclined to take responsibility and feel pride in their work. When they are empowered to make decisions and be accountable for their actions, potential leaders take ownership in the success of the company, and often become superior performers” (Gale). Unisys Corporation is a large multinational group based in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. Their management has begun a new program that will train 1,500 employees throughout the organization in areas of leadership. The hope is that this training will foster employee spirit and loyalty and will increase productivity because of it (Gale).

Multinational companies are also identifying new training needs. They claim that there are new lessons to be learned to fit a 1st century workplace. Employees should be, “learning to work in a multinational business organization, meeting cross-cultural needs, managing career paths within group management resource, and understanding the environment in a rapidly changing world” (Jones). Jones is referring to British Petroleum’s (BP) commitment to training employees for the best profit of the organization. To meet these new demands, BP has begun training in several areas. They train the employees for their job related functions and then prepare senior management for supervision of work. They believe that job specific training seeks to create a fit for each employee. No doubt that this multinational company is doing a good job as it relies on group training, simulation training, seminars and on-the-job training to prepare its employees for business.

With all the job-related training that’s going on, sometimes employers forget that they should also train employees on issues such as cultural appreciation, diversity awareness and domestic matters. One such company makes its money by assisting other companies in implementing these programs. LanguaTutor says that “relocation and cultural training are the biggest areas of growth” for multinational companies (Strong). “By becoming multiculturally aware, you become a better employer…and you are promoting harmony in the workplace” (Strong). This theory has been adopted by countless industries. In particular, the auto and agriculture industries make this a part of their employee training curriculum.

If training programs are so expensive, why then do companies continue to spend billions of dollars to make their employees the best? The need for training is often “correlated with the mix of learning programs with desired outcomes, such as employee, retention, personal development and business growth” (Walker). It has also been proven that a strong training program reduces absenteeism, improves employee relations, improves productivity and overall increases employee longevity at the company.

As it has been discussed there are many ways in which companies can educate, train and develop their employees. There is no clear one way in which a company must train. In fact, it is best for each company to design a curriculum that works best for them. What then is the next wave in human resources management in the area of training? As each nation becomes more interdependent, multinational organizations will be forced to incorporate more cultural awareness components in their training. Companies will also see that assisting employees in areas of domestic violence understanding and diversity acceptance will produce a more peaceful and productive workplace. Therefore, it will be necessary for management to go beyond the traditional job-related training. “HR professionals must extend their value beyond traditional practices by helping senior management create and maintain a shared mission and culture, both of which are absolutely essential to the ultimate success of a global business strategy” (Wellins)


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