Chapter 31 Introduction to Employee Training

Employee training is intended to enhance employees’ learning and develop their knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs). In most circumstances, a goal of training is to help employees transfer what they learned during training to their job. A comprehensive review of employee training, in general, is beyond the scope of this chapter; however, if you’re looking for a very general and basic over of employee training, please check out the following conceptual video. In the sections that follow, you will also have an opportunity to drill down to specific steps in the training process.

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31.1 Needs Assessment

The needs assessment is a critical early step when developing a new training program, as it helps us target who needs training, what they need to be trained on, and what resources the organization has to support the training initiative. The following video provides a conceptual overview of a needs assessment.

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31.2 Learning Environment & Enhancement

When developing a training program, the learning environment and learning enhancement should be emphasized. The following conceptual videos review the importance of these two priorties in the context of the training process.

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31.3 Training Methods

When we think of training, the training methods used to deploy the training program usually come to mind. In the following conceptual video, I review some examples of common training methods.

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31.4 Training Evaluation

The primary aim of this chapter is to describe a key step in the employee training process: training evaluation. Thus, we will spend more time reviewing this step of the training process.

We can evaluate the effectiveness of a training program by using different types of training evaluation designs (i.e., research designs). Namely, we can apply various types of pre-experimental, quasi-experimental, or true experimental designs in order to evaluate a training program on selected outcomes (i.e., measures). Depending upon the type of training evaluation design we choose to apply, we will have varying degrees of confidence that and differences or changes we observe were caused by the training itself as opposed to other (confounding) factors.

31.4.1 Causal Inferences

As described by Cascio and Boudreau (2011), for two hypothetical variables (e.g., X, Y) to be causally related, the following must be true.

  1. Y must not occur until after X, which is referred to as temporal precedence.
  2. X and Y are associated with one another, which is referred to as covariation.
  3. Other explanations of the association between X and Y can be ruled out or eliminated, which is referred to as control for confounding variables.

31.4.2 Training Evaluation Designs & Statistical Analysis

Examples of common training evaluation designs include (but are not limited to):

  • Post-test-only without control group;
  • Post-test-only with control group;
  • Post-test-only with two comparison groups;
  • Pre-test/post-test without control group;
  • Pre-test/post-test with control group.

Each type of training evaluation design generates data, and thus another important consideration during training evaluation is to determine which type of analysis is most appropriate for analyzing the data from a given training evaluation design. For example, an independent-samples t-test is often appropriate when analyzing data from a post-test-only with control group design, whereas a paired-samples t-test is often appropriate when analyzing data from a pre-test/post-test without control group training evaluation design. More advanced types of training evaluation designs (e.g., mixed-factorial designs) often require other types of statistical analyses, such as the analysis of (co)variance or regression.

For a review of training evaluation designs as well as common outcome measures, please watch the following conceptual video.

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Cascio, Wayne F, and John Boudreau. 2011. Investing in People: Financial Impact of Human Resource Initiatives. Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson.