Recently, I was discussing a company’s internal training program with its HR Director. Administrative professionals are required to earn a certain amount of “credits” per year through the internal program. Full classes are offered in the Fall and Spring and a partial class schedule during the Summer. The topics are varied and include general software training, such as how to use styles in Microsoft Word, job-specific applications, such as how to write a certain report in more quickly and efficiently, and soft skills, such as organization and time management. More than 70% of the training, though, falls into the first category, software-specific.
As we discussed this in more detail, I learned that some of the problems with the program was the unequal results it seemed to produce. Some of the attendees felt that the courses were far below their skill set and that it was truly painful to sit through the same Microsoft Excel course year after year without learning anything new. Yet, the HR Director had come to find out that some employees, who had been with the organization for years, did not possess even the most basic software skills.
The HR Director wanted to know how this had happened and what could be done to correct it? After the time and energy the organization had devoted to creating and implementing the program, which had been in place for a number of years, it was fair to say that the return on the company’s investment was zero, at best. If anything, the program was actually a loss. They paid for instructors, both high-cost outside trainers and internal IT staff whose time could have been spent on other things. The employees were taken away from their “real” work for at least 12 hours a year (the minimum number of credits each employee has to earn per year). And, the lost potential of having an entire workforce who had actually learned the materials and who should have been performing at a much higher level.