According to the 1997 Oxford Training Review, to be most effective, company-training programs such as the OAQP’s conference should be ad hoc and focus on current business issues rather than standardized management systems. In conducting its review, Oxford Training analyzed information from directors, line managers and HRD professionals representing 65 leading European companies, including Eagle Star, Allied Dunbar, British Airports Authority and Eurotunnel.
The review set out to determine whether training professionals and managers shared a common vision for the future of training and development. It found there was general agreement that training has an impact on business and that successful companies have well defined and consistent training policies. This belief among European corporations is reinforced by the statistic that top US companies like Xerox, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas spend around 3% of sales revenue on training.
“Training should be considered a priority in any organization,” writes Catherine K. Leuz in The Importance of Training (1998). “It is important to bear in mind that 75% of the working population will still be employed in ten years’ time. However, it is unlikely that they will be doing the same job in exactly the same way they are doing it today. Unfortunately, nobody can foresee what occupations will be in demand in 10 to 15 years time, so flexibility in skills is absolutely essential. True flexibility can only be achieved through ongoing training programs tailored to emerging markets.”
Leuz states that in virtually every organization, particularly where large HRD and training units are employed, managers often take on the role of counselors as well. “It seems that a manager is often the first person to notice problems or experiences the results of lack of training,” she observes.
“In order to be of value, any learning process must evaluate ideas and encourage change. Otherwise a company can stagnate or become comatose,” writes Leuz. “This is a real danger when an organization simply relies on past experience for present solutions, allowing all decisions to come from management, “who knows best”. In such cases, the workforce is passive and uninvolved; it does not want to change or adapt or learn. In certain situations a workforce’s lack of confidence can actually undermine its ability to cope with change, new working practices, and advances in information technology.”
For maximum success, there must be a company commitment to an ongoing integrated learning program for the entire workforce – not just new entrants, recommends Leuz. “The aim should be lifelong education, improving rather than accepting the level of education formerly attained at school or university. Training should produce profitable results for the individual as well as the organization and should provide opportunities for self-development.
“Motivating employees is not solely about money; there is evidence to show that it concerns recognizing individual development and achievements, offering good training, and giving staff more power over their work.
“Developing and training staff enhances the quality of services offered by the company. Any organization implementing an effective training policy will soon reap the benefit in terms of motivation, performance, low staff turnover, and a fulfilled workforce. When organizations invest in their workforce the result is better morale, higher productivity, fewer disputes, reduced absenteeism, and readier acceptance of new working methods.”
What are the benefits associated with learning? According to Leuz they include:
- A competitive edge over other companies
- Improved performance and productivity
- Increased profit and savings
- Job enrichment and quality of working life
- Attracting and retaining the best workforce
- Improved customer service
Note: This month OAQP is conducting a new survey of members and industry affiliates to determine their training needs for management and staff in the coming year. To participate, please contact our association.