Training and skills are important aspect of Human Resources Management that should gauge other management practices (Keep, 1989). In a rapidly changing business world, it is important to have a highly knowledgeable and skilled workforce through effective training program and firms that are able to develop such have better chances of reaping rewards (Anonymous, 2007). However, little training is carried out in firms with labour regarded as cost and a supply of skills to produce results, no discretion on the part of the individual (Redman and Wilkinson, 2009), and also, with pressing needs at hand, training is of less importance.
Skill is an important part of the individual and organisation’s performance, but why do both parties choose to neglect it. This essay explores the benefits of training to an organisation and the individual and reasons why firms neglect training to their disadvantage with individuals responding by simply filling the gap. Before looking into the impact of training on organisation’s performance, it is important to have an understanding of the term ‘training’.
Training is subject to various interpretations. Kennedy and Reid (1986, pp.3) defines training, according to Manpower services commission’s glossary of training terms (1981), as ‘a planned process to modify attitude, knowledge or skill behaviour through learning experience… with the purpose of developing the abilities of an individual satisfying also the current and future needs of the organisation’. The business dictionary defines training as “an organised activity aimed at imparting information or instructions to improve the recipient’s performance or to attain a required level of knowledge or skill”.
With these definitions we can note that training is all about acquiring skills, knowledge and competencies through professional development. Due to rapid changes emerging from the global competitive market place, managers and executives are pushed to change approaches to running operations and managing people (Longeneker and Simonetti, 2001) which, as Martin (2010) puts it, requires financial, human and time resources given the growing demands of firms to boost productivity, retain talent and stay in touch with advanced technologies.
This further takes us to the importance of training an individual. There are many reasons why training is beneficial to an organisation and the employees. Beginning with the individual, given that the chances of life determines the job a person does and wages earned, training is indeed of benefit to the individual. Employees that participate in trainings sponsored by firms are likely to see themselves as having better career prospects and the likelihood of remaining with their employer (Heyes and Stuart, 2009).
They also have better prospects of promotion and greater job satisfaction as a result of their work talents (Kennedy and Reid, 1986); Employees have improved chances of obtaining another job if made redundant, a finding, however, that raises questions on ’employability’ as a substitute to ’employment security’, as Redman and Wilkinson (2009) argues or otherwise put as valuable assets which employers are likely to lose.
Based on Longenecker and Fink’s (2005) study of 268 managers, in exploring the benefits of training, they identified a number of potential benefits arising from effective training. They stated an improvement of performance of both their own and the operation’s; the manager/individual used such programs as an opportunity for self-appraisal and reflection and also to point out deficiencies that needed work; it also increased confidence, challenging them to think differently. Training is also as beneficial to the organisation as it is to the individual.
The following benefits for the firm may be anticipated. A greater volume of work is expected from trained staff; training increases employees’ versatility and flexibility in the workplace by extending their range of activities; it safeguards productivity by preparing employers for future jobs and segregates firms from shortage of skills. It also allows firms to adapt to the changing business environment and reduces helps to eliminate costs resulting from correction of errors (Kennedy and Reid, 1986).
However, while there are positive impacts of training on productivity and reduction of skill shortages, its link to profit and quality of production are hard to quantify (Redman and Wilkinson, 2009), a problem mostly blamed on the lack of evaluating training by the companies, seeing that its returns rarely justify the reasons they carried out (Berge, 2008). The advantages mentioned above can only be of interest to an employer if measured also in cost-benefit terms in relation to resources needed to achieve them.
For an employer, at the level of the firm, it is believed that there should be a link between training, performance and profitability of an organisation Grabber et al. , n. d. , however, argues, in Berge’s (2008) study, that training has no inherent value, its worth is determined by the performance gains and gaps it catalyses and addresses and the opportunities it can help to create in a given environment. Alternatively, training should be accountable like other investments by an organisation in order for it to be considered an investment, and its contributions to organisation’s results should be ascertained (Pineda 2010).