Gabazira's blog

The Effectiveness-Lab

Corporate training shenanigans

Now, companies, and we suspect including yours, spend lots of money on training. The so-called corporate training. To not train staff at a company is equivalent to operating an archaic management paradigm whose place can only be found in the 20th-century management culture.

Contemporary management calls for continuous staff skilling, on the job – and that is done via training. No ifs and or buts about it. And true, companies spend a boatload of greenbacks on training.

According to Forbes, in 2014, the USA alone spent over $70 billion on staff training. And globally, a whopping $130 plus billion was spent on training alone. in 2016, the amount spent globally on corporate training almost doubled to $359 billion.

This isn’t small change. The focus in training ranges from technical for the more technical industries to soft skilling like leadership development. Apparently – it takes three to five years to groom staff from an amateur to a mid-career and consistently able professional. And for the latter growth, the company or individual have to make the investment in training.

So – it looks like companies don’t have a choice but to spend money on training their staff. And if they can’t – individual staff have to foot the bill to skill themselves

Our question is: How effective is corporate training and are companies getting value for money?

The statistics on corporate training effectiveness and efficacy paint an interesting picture. While we all agree that corporate training is a necessity at any modern company, It’s not always money well spent. Apparently, companies don’t always realise value for money from their training investment.

To compound the problem, companies don’t appropriately invest to develop the right culture and system to assess the efficacy of corporate training. Money is spent because staff need skilling and training is an activity that has been done time immemorial.

Well, let’s have a quick look at the efficacy of corporate training – please see the metrics below on corporate training; the first two are from a pretty familiar market and one many firms benchmark against due to its high productivity – the USA; and the last metric on job dissatisfaction is a global metric

  • Only 12% of corporate learners apply the skills they get from training on the job. Companies are either targeting the wrong learner needs, or the learners themselves are the problem
  • One out of three learners find corporate learning content uninspiring
  • 85% of employees the world over are dissatisfied at work – mainly related to less than appropriate engagement issues, culture and people fit, etc

If only 12% apply what they learn at corporate training events in an advanced market as the USA, and 88% of the corporate training dollar invested goes to waste – something isn’t right. And what isn’t right is in the second statistic above (bullet two) – that corporate training is focusing on the wrong things – uninspiring content

The ultimate scenario is the third metric – the incredibly high number of dissatisfied staff at work, especially the rank and file. And mind you, 85% is a global statistic, so don’t exclude your company or self. We are all in it.

Evoking the analogy that a professional friend used recently: It’s not far-fetched to write that:

corporations are providing the training they need, but employees don’t want, and that what employees want, the corporations’ don t need

Something is broken somewhere and needs fixing. Yes, firms can’t continue spending millions on training that isn’t effective. Forms also can’t continue dragging staff to training that they don’t need or believe is relevant to them

Below are some of the fixes that the Effectiveness lab advises companies to consider:

  • Effective training should be premised on useful data and analytics to properly inform both company and staff training needs and avoid the current needs analysis failure
  • Robust post-training evaluation systems should be developed, implemented and institutionalised at companies. That way, companies will know when they are going off the rail and take timely corrective action
  • Companies should appreciate the digital revolution and its implications for company training programmes. The traditional lecture room, offsite and work training approach may no longer be appropriate, especially for the Millennial and Z generations. Short, frequent, flexible and data-analysis informed, MOOCs like courses are the way to go. The definition and shaping of the training programme structure is no longer the monopoly of the employer, but both the employer and employee
  • In line with the above point – tailor training to the individual; some staff like quiet and safe spaces to train in, others may want more open, group-based and fun training, other may prefer extremely ‘lite’ content, drip and drop approaches, etc. Impossible as it may appear, the availability of digital and deep analytics make individually tailored training approaches extremely possible

Be sure to make your training programme useful and a signature value-adding initiative at your company. And that will call for quite a bit of boldness on your part as a leader


2 responses to “Corporate training shenanigans”

  1. Rightly analyzed. But also the increasingly “cut and paste” method employed by trainers makes training less relevant. The trainers have at times have failed to train themselves to understand what their trainees require.


    1. Muhangi – you are spot on. Training for training’s sake….. as we want to call it at times


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About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


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