How to Avoid Wasting Staff Training


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Monday, July 3, 2017

You may be investing a lot of time and money into training your staff, so it’s important that it’s not going to waste.

Article 5 Minutes
How to Avoid Wasting Staff Training
  • Home
  • HR
  • L&D
  • How to Avoid Wasting Staff Training

While training and development (T&D) is clearly crucial to the survival of organizations in all spheres of business, proactive measures must be taken to ensure training stays current, as studies also show that businesses stand to lose up to 90% of new skills learnt within the first year.

Why training and development is essential

A stronger organizations

T&D bolsters an organization’s reputation and demonstrates compliance with industry regulations and best-practice. From an in-house point of view, if good training measures are in place, then good evaluation can be effected, allowing training programs to be improved.

A Brandon Hall study shows how nearly half of all organizations feel compliance training is either a priority or critical to business. The quality of the training needs to be every bit a priority, with engaging programs compounded through refreshment sessions.

A stronger workforce

Sound training encourages loyalty, as it demonstrates to employees that the organization is concerned for their personal growth and professional development. In a more caring environment, performance levels increase, driving better results and overall productivity.

When it comes to recruitment, a company that is T&D-aware can access a broader talent pool because it looks beyond direct job profile matches to individuals that can develop when aligned to in-house training programs.

The nurturing that T&D provides brings the employee closer to the organization, binding the team ethos and pushing the firm’s competitive edge further. With more empowerment, employees behave more intuitively, requiring less supervision which reduces the number of lost working hours and brings down costs.

How to avoid wasting training and development

What takes place after a training program is just as important as the initial session itself, argues Eduardo Salas, a professor of organizational psychology at the University of Central Florida. Many organizations remain in the dark about the importance of learning, training and development, instead falling back on a number of myths that perpetuate a vicious circle that can severely hinder a business in many areas. 

Empower managers with the drive to train

In the modern business world, the employer’s traditional role of also being a mentor to an employee has eroded, with bosses becoming increasingly bogged down with extra responsibilities. Organizations need to recognize that extra incentives or support are needed if managers are able to take employee training seriously, on an ongoing basis.

Keep training fresh and relevant

Just as one trip to the gym will not keep your body in trim for a year, newly learned skills can vanish quickly if they are not developed and worked over time through a dedicated, specialist program. Executives need to rethink how L&D happens within teams and organizations so that continuous campaigns of training replace the occasional approach.

Encourage employee training ownership

Employees will be far more responsive to training that is bespoke and tailored to the needs of the individual worker. Innovation and productivity depend on your employees buying into training programs for the right reasons.

Don Jones, former VP of learning at Natixis Global Asset Management is clear about the need for customized solutions for individuals that can be scaled across an organisation to maximize cost efficiency.

Employee ages can range from 18 to 65 and organizations need to recognize this generational gap, restructuring training and tools that correspond to different styles and preferred modes of learning. While Millennials might expect tech-heavy learning experiences activated through apps, computers and gamification, elder members of the workforce might be more comfortable with class-style tuition that relies on discussion and physical worksheets.

Reach out to employees

Telling employees to attend set training sessions is one way of engendering development, but participants are unlikely to greet your invitation with any enthusiasm if they are already overburdened with a heavy workload.

Ensure that learning options are flexible, leading with information that allows candidates to clearly see when and where training is taking place, and how they can sign up. Compulsory sessions can be made more attractive when put ‘on-demand’ in a calendar that is sent out to employee mobile phones. Such an approach will maximize access, enabling as many as possible to access training, as and when they want to.

Consider any remote elements of the workforce and find innovative ways to connect with them virtually.

Evaluate and iterate

The concept of looking back over training sessions to establish strengths and weaknesses might seem fundamental, but research finds that just half of organizations track participants’ feedback. More worryingly, just 30% of organizations use evaluation metrics that extend beyond participant feedback, which severely limits the potential for making improvements for the remaining 70%.

Often, the most effective training programs push individuals out of their comfort zones, although such training, however useful, might receive undue criticism if the employees going through them do not find the experiences enjoyable.

Placing a value on training will help organizations to avoid dumbing programs down in a bid to make everyone happy. Within this value, firms need to align training sessions to the business metric they are designed to improve. Measuring actual behavioral changes can also give valuable insight into the efficacy of training programs.


When more attention is given to the recipients of T&D, organizations stand to make real steps forward that will ultimately benefit the entire workforce. Furthermore, when educated on the advantages of embracing T&D, staff will develop a proactive mind-set that seeks self-improvement.  

Simultaneously, businesses will want to know they are receiving ROI. Focusing on trends in L&D programs will enable firms to target appropriate solutions which drive results, increase employee engagement while pushing innovation and productivity.

HR Insights for Professionals

Insights for Professionals provide free access to the latest thought leadership from global brands. We deliver subscriber value by creating and gathering specialist content for senior professionals.


Join the conversation...