Training and workshop development program - Training Essay Example
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Training and development programs for businesses have grown substantially over the years. An increasing number of organizations are using state of the art technology and flexible training methods in order to develop in-house talent, increase employee retention, and build a quality workforce, which increases the competitive value of the organization. The main point of focus for any employee training and development program is to enhance the technological skills of employees to rival that of other organizations; an important factor in improving the competitive value of an organization especially in the face of ever changing technology. It is important however, for such training to include a focus on self-development. After all, employees in any business are not only working to widen the profit margin of a company but are also looking for an opportunity to better themselves and advance their careers. If employees feel that they have a better chance of self development elsewhere, then they will definitely move- with the technological skills that they have acquired- to the seemingly greener pastures. This may prove detrimental to a business especially in hard economic times when the company cannot afford to train new employees and wishes to bank on the current ones. In any case, whether there is an economic crisis or not, a high turnover rate is undesirable for any employer.
Self development therefore proves an important factor in retaining the employees and talent within the organization. Training and development programs are viewed as a means of maximizing the full potential of employees through enhancing their skills, not only the skills related to carrying out the job itself, but also interpersonal skills such as those associated with communication as well as teamwork. It is worth noting that it is important for such training to be as cost effective as possible to the company. Quality and cost effective employee training programs such as the e- learning programs are indispensable in increasing the competitive value of an organization.
Training and self development workshops using e-learning programs
E-learning programs are increasingly being targeted as the most cost effective training and self development programs through which employers can enhance the technological as well as the interpersonal skills of their employees at a minimum cost to the company (Strother 1). They involve providing online training to employees such that they can access their courses and learning materials at the click of a button from the comfort of their homes or their offices. There are several organizations which offer online training for businesses such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The course content is usually provided by experts in a relevant industry and the employees can access it online at their own convenience. In this manner, the trainees learn at their own pace and after completing their course they are tested and certified (SHRM).
But what exactly does e-learning entail? E-learning uses the electronic media for training. It involves accessing learning materials from the web and downloading them. It also involves the use of CD-ROM or other learning resources that are computer based from the workplace, at home or even in the classroom. Other than learning materials, one can also access online course activities such online simulations as well as online group discussions. There is a supervised internet use, together with the application of mobile and voice technologies for learning and carrying out research. E-learning also involves a structured e-mail communication that is learning based as well as online assessment activities. It is worth noting that e-learning does not involve the dissemination of course information using the email, communication between the trainer and the trainee via email to address a particular learning issue nor does it involve the online management of learning activities (Australian Flexible Learning Framework 6).
E-learning has a number of advantages. Perhaps its biggest advantage to the business is that it is considered much less expensive than the standard classroom training. There is very little or no money spent to book training facilities, the travel costs for the employees and/or the trainers are very minimal or even non existent, and the time that the employer spends away from the job is greatly reduced. In a study carried out on the economic benefits of e-learning for businesses, it was established that many businesses which substituted e-learning for traditional classroom training recorded enormous savings. For instance, in the year 1999, IBM was found to have saved a total of $200 billion in terms of reduced cost due to implementing the e-learning programs. They were able to provide five times the training that they had earlier provided to their employees using traditional methods, at only a third the cost of their previous training undertakings. Another company, Ernst and Young was also able to reduce their cost of employee training by 35% while Rockwell Collins who partially introduced web based training reduced theirs by 40% (Strother 1). However, it is worth noting that even though employers would wish to reduce the costs of employee training, their main aim is to increase the effectiveness of training and enhance the skills of their employees- even if it means that cost will be raised. Thus many corporations are combining e-learning with classroom training to enhance training effectiveness (Strother 2).
Other benefits of e- learning for businesses include convenience, whereby the employee can take their course at the time that is most convenient to them without any undue pressure usually related with classroom training. They are also able to learn at their own pace and this enables them to take the time to fully grasp the course content. In a classroom scenario, the tutor is likely to take the course at his own pace with a view to finishing the syllabus within the set time and in the process, some not-so-fast learning trainees may be left behind. E-learning also has a wide variety of available content with a standardized delivery (Strother 1). In a 2009 report by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework, some of the documented benefits of e-learning included a greater degree of flexibility for the trainee since he or she can decide the time and duration for undertaking the course, reduced time taken off work to attend to those parts of the training that are off-the-job as well as cost savings. E-learning was also found to augment the levels of on-the-job training. It was also found to provide training that was of a higher quality in several locations and that had been tailor made to suit the prevailing needs of a particular business (Australian Flexible Learning Framework 3).
Because of the perceived benefits, an increasing number of organizations are laying more emphasis on the development of e-learning programs in their organizations. A survey carried out in the year 2000 on training directors in 500 different companies revealed that a number of companies, approximately 60% of them had already initiated some e-learning programs at their workplace. It was also established that 86% of them were aiming to convert their current training programs from the traditional instructor led sessions to e-learning. The year 2000 is recognized as the turning point in the era of e-learning since many companies chose to adopt e-learning programs during this time, marking a period of growth in e-learning (Strother 1-2).
Companies that have adopted training and development programs have been able to enhance their competitive value and emerge as forces to reckon with in their different industries. This is partly because their training programs have enabled them to enhance the technological skills of their employees thereby increasing their competitiveness and enhancing the value of their products and/or services. It is also because these companies have managed to retain their employees due to the opportunities for self development that the training programs offer. Maintaining talent within an organization is very important especially in harsh economic times when an employer cannot afford to recruit and train afresh. There is an increasing competition for valuable workers and employee retention has never been more important than it is today. According to a survey of Employee Benefit Trends by Metlife, employers rated employee retention as their top most goal. For this reason, companies are resorting to ingenious ways of retaining their employees. Some are offering unique benefits such as membership to clubs, or subsidized access to some services (Maling). Offering self development programs can also be a viable way of retaining employees through ensuring self fulfillment. The following is an analysis of case studies of some companies that have enhanced their competitive value through the use of e-learning training and development programs that promoted the self development.
Case study: IBM
IBM is one of the companies that introduced an e- learning initiative in its management training program. In a study carried out by Nucleus research on this initiative, it was established that the e-learning program had enabled IBM to attain a return on investment (ROI) of 2284%. This was linked to the reduction of travel costs among other expenses associated with training that enabled the company to achieve such quick returns. Furthermore, IBM was able to use e-learning technology to create a better learning environment for their trainees as opposed to the standard classroom setting, though it blended the two approaches. The e-learning program provided an easier access to a wide range of learning materials and the advanced features of online training such as the simulation modules and electronic coaching enabled a higher content retention on the part of the trainees. This has no doubt helped IBM to enhance its competitive value due to the enhancement of the technological skills of its employees. The ROI is an indication of the benefits that IBM has achieved in terms of returns based on reduced cost and increased profitability due to improved employee performance (Nucleus Research). IBM therefore provides evidence of how a company can improve the work quality of employees and enhance the competitive growth of a business through successful training and development programs such as e-learning programs. However, self development is also an important factor in training. The following two case studies focus on the use of training and self- development workshops to address employee retention issues.
Case study: Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart initiated a web based e-learning program for its approximately 1.2 million employees scattered all over the globe to develop personal skills. The courses are not for improving the job skills available online for the employees but are aimed at enhancing personal development and are available to Wal-Mart employees as well as their families through the My Education Connection program provided by Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart employees and their families have been able to benefit from this program greatly as they can access e-learning courses of their choice through the Web courtesy of Wal-Mart. This illustrates the benefits of personal self development workshops in employee fulfillment and retention. According to management in charge of people development in Wal-Mart, the program provides an excellent chance for their employees to continue their personal enrichment. Clearly, Wal-Mart understands the importance of self development in enhancing business performance and retaining employees. It is highly unlikely that Wal-Mart employees will want to leave their employment due to this benefit that they are entitled to together with their families. Such training is also likely to improve their performance since they will very likely pursue training related to their line of business (“Wal-Mart provides”).
Case study: FedEx Express
Four years ago, FedEx was grappling with a high employee turnover rate. Many frontline employees especially in the entry level jobs were leaving FedEx at an alarming rate despite the company’s culture of treating its employees in such a manner as to ensure their loyalty. A further analysis of the issue established that access to developmental training was a major problem behind this worrying trend. Most of employees needed to have some form of training to improve their job skills but this was faced with several obstacles. Most of the employees were part-time workers and as such, they were not entitled to developmental training “on the clock”. Since many of these employees needed to have access to a higher level of professional training for them to advance their careers, it followed that most of them could not advance career wise. There were very limited opportunities for self development whether professionally or personally and in many instances, the employees lacked the resources in terms of time and finances, to pursue these opportunities. Where such resources were provided by the company, the employees were not aware and as such, failed to utilize them. Taking into account all these limitations, FedEx was able to come up with a flexible solution. It had already launched an e-learning program earlier, but it was faced with a number of problems such as low awareness, poor self development culture among individuals and a limited alignment to the key initiatives that would compel learners to undertake online training. With a view to increasing their competitive value and retain their employees, FedEx came up with a popular unique developmental training program that was blended with the online program and was available to all FedEx employees interested in self development. FedEx has also rolled out a Center for Employee Self Development program which aids in the personal development of employees. Such advancements have given FedEx a competitive advantage in several ways: FedEx now has high employee retention levels, is able to control its training costs and has motivated its employees to strive for increased customer satisfaction thereby leading to enhanced business performance (“motivating employees with online learning”).
Barriers to training and self development programs
From the three case studies, it is very evident that training and development programs are crucial in giving any company a competitive advantage. However, not all developmental training initiatives have been successful. In deed, there have been complaints by some companies that despite investing large amounts of money in e-learning programs so as to enhance the skills of their employees, they have still not been able to achieve the desired economic gains (Strother 1). The following section analyzes a company that has faced challenges in the implementation of their e-learning programs.
Case study: De Beers Group
De Beers Group is arguably the largest diamond mining corporation worldwide, with headquarters in Canada, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. De Beers is the South African branch. Like any other progressive company, De Beers invested in e-learning programs for developmental training of its workforce scattered all over the globe. Initially, this e-learning program was well received by the employees and lauded as an important step in enhancing employee development. However, as the years passed, De Beers started wondering if implementing the e-learning program had been a mistake. The employees did not seem enthusiastic about making use of the online training that the company was offering and on average, the staff completed 135 online courses only each year. To make matters worse, there was a high turnover rate at the training department management level, making the unit appear as lacking in direction. For years, the De Beers e-learning program remained redundant; not giving any meaningful economic advantages and prompting the company to wonder if it had made a mistake. A closer analysis of the De Beers e-learning program revealed that the reason why the program had failed to achieve the desired result is that De-Beers did not have a proper strategy for e-learning. It simply offered courses without addressing specific business needs and people did not seem inspired to pursue these courses.
Realizing their weakness, De Beers sought to rectify it. Since they lacked someone who could champion the worth of the training program, their first step was to outsource their e-learning program to a company that could develop a viable strategy that would match their business requirements and give them value for money. Kalleo Learning based in South Africa is the company which De Beers outsourced to. Within a short while, De Beers experienced a turn around in their e-learning program. Kalleo was able to come up with a proper strategy that enabled De Beers to apply e-learning in areas that were best suited. Thus from 135 courses per year, De Beers registered an average of 4000 completed online courses per annum. Since these course have been customized to address specific business objectives, the use of the e-learning program has without doubt, enhanced the business performance of DeBeers. Plans are also underway to assess how employees are applying on the job, the skills that they have acquired from the training. It is highly likely that where these new skills are applied, productivity will increase (“De Beers Case Study”).
There are a number of lessons to learn from the De Beers program. First of all, it is clear that their biggest problem was lack of a strategy. This is one of the pitfalls to avoid. Companies looking to enhance the skills of their employees through training and workshop development programs would be well advised to come up with a proper strategy with which to implement the idea. It is worth noting that even a good idea may seem terrible if poorly implemented. A second observation from De Beers is that their training programs were not focused on any particular business need. This is the second pitfall to avoid. While the use of e-learning programs can be highly beneficial to a company, e-learning is not always the best fit for everything. Thus a proper training and development program should be tailor made to suit a particular business need. It should also have a vision. The question should be; what does management wish to gain by offering this program? What value is it adding to the company? It is only answering these questions that a company can come up with a suitable and effective program. Another observation from De Beers is that they lacked effective leadership in the training department which was plagued by a high turnover rate. This may have contributed to the poor performance of the department though it is likely that the managers left precisely because of this non-performance. This is the third pitfall to avoid. For any task to be done well there must be an effective leadership to spearheading the plan. If it is hard to obtain a good one within the business, then one can resort to outsourcing as De Beers did. The important thing is to have a leader who has the company’s vision at heart and who tries the level best to implement it through the training and workshop development programs.
The case of De Beers is one among many examples of companies whose e-learning initiatives have failed to achieve the desired results for one reason or another. De Beers’ problem was lack of a vision and strategy but there are many other issues that can serve as impediments to the benefits of training and development programs for businesses and more specifically, the e-learning programs. The Australian Flexible Learning Framework report (3) cites the challenge of changing mind- sets as the biggest impediment promoting e-learning. Many people are still tied in to the conventional instructor-led mode of training delivery. They are a bit apprehensive about the workability and even the quality of online training programs since they feel that they have to see the instructor for them to have actually undertaken the course. Learning online is still a strange concept to some people, thus even though the company is looking for a more flexible approach with which to offer quality training to its employees, they may be reluctant to pursue it since they feel that they do not stand to gain much from these training programs. This rigid mindset needs to be challenged. Employees need to feel that online courses are as good as any other and the company should undertake to convince them on the advantages of undertaking such courses.
Training and workshop development programs are crucial because they help the employees to enhance their skills so that they can compete effectively with other organizations. HHhhhHvjowever, it is also important for the company to look into matters of self fulfillment so that they can address employee retention issues. If employees feel happy, they are least likely to move and talent is thus maintained within the organization. Quality and cost effective employee training programs are therefore indispensable in enhancing the competitive value of an organization.
Australian Flexible Learning Network. How organizations are using e-learning to support national training initiatives. Final report February 2009. Retrieved 20.4.2009 from <http://www.flexiblelearning.net.au/flx/webdav/site/flxsite/users/mchang/public/E-learning_and_National_Initiatives_Report.pdf>
De Beers Case Study for CLO magazine March 2007. Retrieved 20.4.2009 from <http://www.kalleo.com/DeBeers%20SUMT%20Kalleo%20Case%20Study%20Final.pdf>
Maling, Brittany. Building Company Loyalty with unusual benefits. HRWorld features. 20.4.2009 <http://www.hrworld.com/features/build-loyalty-unusual-benefits/>
Motivating employees with online learning: complex training obstacles are overcome at Fedex Express. 29.10.2008.20.4.2009 <http://www.2elearning.com/markets/executive-suite/top-stories/top-stories-item/article/motivating-employees-with-online-learning.html>
Nucleus Research. IBM’s Basic Blue e-learning initiative delivers a 2284 percent ROI, 2 October 2001. 20.4.2009 <http://nucleusresearch.com/news/press-releases/ibms-basic-blue-e-learning-initiative-delivers-a-2284-percent-roi/>
SHRM e-learning. SHRM online. Retrieved 20.4.2009 from <http://www.elearning.shrm.org/partneringPrograms.aspx>
Strother, Judith. An assessment of the effectiveness of e-learning in Corporate Training Programs. International Review of Research in Open and Distance learning report. 3.1(April 2002). Retrieved 20.4.2009 from <http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/viewFile/83/161>
Wal-Mart provides 1.2 million employees access to web based e-learning. Internet retailer conference and exhibition. Retrieved 20.4.2009 from <http://www.internetretailer.com/internet/marketing-conference/85988-wal-mart-provides-12-million-employees-access-web-based-e-learning.html>
Introduction: Training and development programs for businesses have grown substantially over the years. An increasing number of organizations are using state of the art technology and flexible training methods in order to develop in-house talent, increase employee retention, and build a quality workforce, which increases the competitive value of the organization.
Thesis: Quality and cost effective employee training programs such as the e- learning programs are indispensable in increasing the competitive value of an organization.
Body: should aim to prove or disprove the thesis.
Training and self development workshops using e-learning programs
E-learning programs are increasingly being targeted as the most cost effective training and self development programs through which employers can enhance the technological as well as the interpersonal skills of their employees at a minimum cost to the company.
What does e-learning entail?
Address the benefits of e-learning training programs
Case studies; analyze some companies that have enhanced their competitive value through the use of e-learning training and development programs that promoted the self development.
Companies chosen: IBM which has enhanced its technological competitiveness through the online training programs; Wal-Mart which has offered its employees access to online learning as a benefit for self development; FedEx Express which has been able to enhance competitive advantage through an e-learning program.
Address barriers to e-learning training programs
Case study; De Beers Group- its e-learning program initially failed. Identify pitfalls to avoid.
Conclusion; highlight key findings; has thesis been confirmed?