27 February 2018

The Risks of Ineffective Training

Employee training is key to building an effective and productive organisation with a justifiable reputation for getting the job done. While specific learning methods will vary across roles and industries, effective training empowers employees and leads to a substantial decrease in risk. In an ideal world, all training programmes would result in 100% information retention and recall, but as trainees and trainers are only human, some methods are less effective than others.

Is no training better than ineffective training?

Something’s always better than nothing, right? This is not necessarily the case with training, where doing a poor job can do more harm than good. Some companies see structured learning and development programmes as an unnecessary expense, instead adopting a ‘learn on the job’ approach, which can produce effective results as learning by doing gives the employee the chance to pick up skills in a relevant and practical way. However, this approach doesn’t always include assessment or monitoring, so key lessons may be missed. Fully classroom-based training, on the other hand, tends to focus on theoretical learning without the environmental context of being onsite, leading to poor knowledge retention and a host of other issues…

What could possibly go wrong?

So if your training is not being effective, what can possible go wrong?

Poor performance and decreased productivity

Without effective training, employees will take longer to fully grasp the required concepts and stand less chance of retaining and recalling important information once out of the classroom. At best, the impact of this will be a few minutes here and there as employees search for a solution that they can’t remember off the top of their head; at worst, they could hazard a guess and get it wrong.
Although a charismatic tutor can increase trainee engagement and get people fired up in the short term, learning something once in an out-of-context situation is not conducive to being able to clearly retain that information and successfully recall it several months down the line.

Health and safety risks

Effective training is particularly vital in industries where mistakes can put people in danger, such as in the medical field and on construction sites. In these scenarios, companies have a duty to ensure their employees are certain of their roles and responsibilities, but the training for this is often classroom-based rather than onsite or in a comparable simulated environment. This can often result in a lack of understanding due to the learning not taking place in context, leading to potentially dangerous situations; for example, the construction sector reports an average of 64,000 non-fatal injuries to workers every year, and 30 deaths in 2016/2017. There’s a good chance that the risk of accidents occurring could be significantly mitigated with more effective training.

Increased expenses

The raised risk of accidents and mistakes caused by ineffective training carries with it a financial liability, as damage to people, property, or equipment can result in hefty bills and legal expenses. Companies that repeatedly fail to mitigate risk may be investigated and fined by the Health and Safety Executive, and will likely face higher insurance premiums.

Unhappy workers

Employees who feel their company doesn’t prioritise their learning and development or their safety in the workplace may well feel less loyalty to their employer as a result - especially if the poor training they’ve been given has put them at risk personally. Managers should also be aware of the financial impact of high employee turnover; according to a report from Oxford Economics, the average cost of replacing a single member of staff is more than £30,000. The bulk of this - £25,000 - comes from reductions in productivity as the replacement staff member gets up to speed.

Damaged reputation

Although some of the mistakes made as a result of ineffective training may be easy to sweep under the carpet, it’s probable that a company that hasn’t invested in better learning and development will face a serious problem at some point. This could involve a failure to fulfil their obligations to a client, or as already mentioned, serious health and safety issues such as onsite accidents. Any kind of major error is likely to result in damage to the company name, which may destroy their relationship with a client or impact their ability to get future work.

Self-perpetuating problems

Badly structured and poorly organised training programmes often involve employees training their colleagues, who in turn train others. This can be a recipe for disaster if not regulated correctly - we’ve all played Chinese whispers! If just one trainer misunderstands a concept and they unwittingly pass false information onto their trainees, the company may be faced with a whole group of people who are at risk of failing to carry out a process or procedure correctly - and if you operate in an industry where mistakes could have health and safety implications, this slip up could be extremely damaging.

The solution: more effective training programmes

Training doesn’t need to cost the earth to be effective, but it does have to be something that is considered and invested in, especially for companies who are operating in a high-risk environment such as construction sites or medical facilities. Sometimes classroom-based delivery simply isn’t the optimal solution as it often isn’t as good at promoting information retention and recall, whereas only offering training on the job may not provide the structure required to make sure employees are learning all they need to.

More and more companies are turning to a blended learning approach, using immersive training applications like Trainingscapes to provide structured training in simulated environments that can replicate the real thing. These highly accessible, on-demand tools allow employees to engage in relevant training within the appropriate context, where they can practice repeatedly to improve their retention and recall. To find out more about the benefits of immersive learning, click here, or feel free to email info@daden.co.uk if you have any questions.

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