Term Paper: Training

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[. . .] One possible approach to this issue is the proposed the concept of partnership where the responsibility of upgrading the skills of workers is shared by both the employee and the employer, with the objective of achieving higher profitability by improving quality and reducing costs. (Herriot and Stickland, 1996, p.127). Today, employers demand more and more from employees, but are not prepared to offer job security. In the past, employment relationship was based on the trusted principle of paternalism, by which the employer promised to take care of the employee. Now, the guiding principle is partnership, where the employer only offers to create opportunities for the employee to take care of herself. In this context, the aim of employee training is to achieve the fine act of making employees more employable in the open market, even as employers refuse to provide job security and assured career development. But, from a practical viewpoint, employers would not go all out in enhancing the employability of workers for various reasons. Employers would hesitate making the huge financial investments for upgrading the competitive skills of employees, but more importantly, they are likely to be worried that such employees would be taken over by competition, which is why British employers have a poor history of training investment (Hendry, 1991, p.82). Thus, it can be supposed that for the average employer, the question of employability becomes more relevant when the employer finds that the worker is no more useful and not the other way round.

One of the major driving forces behind employers accepting the need for employee training is competition. Competitive pressures scare employers to a state where they look to training as the ready-made solution for overcoming the organizational weaknesses. Competitive pressure manifests either in the form of technical change or product-market development, which convinces employers that there exists a need for training. But the degree of response to competitive pressures may vary from situation to situation and depends on external factors as well. For instance, in times of recession or low profitability, employers are more interested in cutting costs and training initiatives are postponed or shelved. Thus, competitive pressures coupled with changes in employer perception and the recognition of need leads to sanction of training. Where competitiveness is concerned, training can play an important role is enabling organizations to compete better in the market. Though competitiveness is a strong driving force, it is not alone sufficient to produce training. Based on a good understanding of the psychology of behavior in organizations, training can be used to develop people to exhibit a certain desired behavior in the best interests of the organization. (Hendry, 1991, p.79). For instance, workers can be trained to work efficiently as groups, control behavioral response and manage emotions under different circumstances and enhance leadership qualities for meeting the competitive challenges.

Training has a major role to play within the realm of Human Resource Management, mainly because it focuses on concepts such as knowledge, skills and understanding. The growing interest in the use of the term Human Resource Development is such that some practitioners do not favor the use of the term 'employee development'. (Harrison, 1997, p.27). The basic reason cited for this view is that in modern organizations, there is growing need to address the issue of 'non-employee development', meaning to include those working for the organization but do not come within the standard employer-employee relationship, such as contract employees, suppliers and agents. (Walton, 1996, p.106). This is true especially in the current environment, where employers no more provide life long employment security but based on performance. Instead, employers are ready to invest in training the employee so that the employee develops higher level of skills and thus becomes independent of the employer for sustaining employment.

More and more employers are now offering new psychological contracts, which is much different from the conventional job offers. In the new contracts, employers include many features such as mutual requirements; reciprocation of offers and promises, employee's willingness to voluntarily strive for pre-set goals, terms for breach and violation or non-fulfillment of obligations under the contract (Hallier and James, 1997, p.135). With this approach, employers feel that they are armed with an option to enforce perceived changes in the terms of employment. This places the employees in a situation where they have to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to meet the contractual obligations, which requires the intervention of human resource skills. As employers open up more avenues for employee training, it is vital that the employees are provided the right type of training so that the objectives of employers and aspirations of employees are met. A critical area where human resources management can play a key role is the management of workers during lay-offs. In this instance, training is required for the workers who are to be laid-off and also the supervisor or the manager for handling the situation. Yet another case is management of emotions, where employees are required to manage responses in front of external and internal customers. (Hochschild, 1983, p.164). One of the major challenges in this context is the effective management of rude and unforgiving customers, where the role of human resource practice can make all the difference.

The role of human resources development commences right from the stage of identifying the training needs of the organization, stretches till the implementation of training, measuring results and then provide re-training, if necessary. One of the popular frameworks used by human resource practitioners in identifying training needs is Boydell's three-level framework (Boydell, 1983, p.5). This framework suggests that training needs exist at three interrelated levels -- the organization, the job or occupation and the employee. There is a need for training if there is relationship between the perceived training needs at the three levels. After the training need is identified, the next stage is to design and implement the appropriate training program. Establishing the objectives of the training program is central to the design part, as this will determine the effectiveness of training.

It is important to classify the objectives into behavioral and non-behavioral, the former being more relevant to organizational training. In the view of R.F.Mager, behavioral objectives have three components (Mager, 1975, p.31). The first is the actual behavior of the employee after the end of the training program, which demonstrates successful learning. The second component is termed as 'conditions', which specifies the circumstances and limitations subject to which the learners will be able to exhibit the desired behavior. Third, is the 'criterion', which specifies standards of performance within behavioral objectives. While this framework is generally accepted across the human resource management spectrum, there are alternative methods, which practitioners may use on case-to-case basis. It is common practice to apply the method of hierarchy of objectives, wherein several discrete yet related objectives are set from an overall objective. This is helpful in simplifying the training program and makes it effective by relating all lower level objectives to the overall objective.

Having identified the training objectives, the appropriate form of training strategy or intervention has to be decided. Reid and Barrington has suggested six variants -- on-the-job training, planned organization experience, in-house courses, and planned experience outside the organization, external courses and self-managed learning. (Reid and Barrington, 1997, p.12). The human resource practitioner thus has the challenging task of implementing the most effective form of training depending on the requirements.

It is great to engineer, design and implement a training program, but the job will be unfinished if the efforts are not evaluated. This evaluation is important to assess the effectiveness of the program and also justify the time and resources spent. There are many models used for evaluation of training, the more common among them are based after the works of Whitelaw (1972, p.33) and Hamblin (1974, p.61). According to this approach, training can be evaluated at different levels, each requiring various methods of evaluation. There are five levels at which the effectiveness of training can be measured:

Level 1or Reaction level: Measures reaction of trainees to the content and methods adopted in the training process. Put simply, this evaluates the views of trainees about the training program.

Level 2 or Learning level: Evaluates whether the trainees learnt what was intended

Level 3 or Job behavior level: Evaluates the employee behavior at work after the training program for ascertaining whether the learning has been transferred to the job

Level 4 or Department level: Evaluates the impact of training on the employee's department -- whether the training has enhanced departmental performance? At this level, the focus of measurement shifts to the employee's department.

Level 5 or Ultimate level: Evaluates whether the training of employee has benefited the organization, in terms of specific parameters such as improvement in customer service or profitability?

For evaluation, different techniques may have to be adopted at each level. For instance, in the first or reaction level, the method of evaluation shall be through… [END OF PREVIEW]

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