Checklist can tell if employee training really works

(Credit: Getty Images)

A new checklist could help develop, implement, and evaluate employee training programs.

Businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations spend big money on employee training each year, but how can they tell the preparation is actually working? The checklist, which researchers describe in a paper in the International Journal of Training and Development, provides practical guidance for all stages of implementing training programs.

The authors developed the checklist by surveying scientific research on learning and organizational training, then figuring out the best ways to achieve “training transfer”—the translation of knowledge to skills for better performance.

“Training transfer is vital across all industries, but among health care organizations the stakes are arguably higher,” says Ashley Hughes, an assistant professor of biomedical and health information sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“There is a science of training and, surprisingly, most organizations are not aware of it or ignore it,” says Eduardo Salas, chair of and professor in the physiological sciences department at Rice University. “This checklist is an attempt to translate the science into a practical tool.”

The checklist is divided into three sections of “yes” and “no” questions to be answered before, during, and after employees undergo training.

The “before” section determines if the training program will meet the organization’s needs, asking questions like “Has the facility identified which employees will attend the training?” and “Are there policies and procedures in place to support training?”

The “during” section addresses the training’s content, asking questions like “Are trainees provided opportunities to actively participate during training?” and “Was the training developed using a valid training strategy and design?”

The “after” questions, which organizations can ask themselves repeatedly, check whether workers remember what they learned and determine if they need more help. Some of the questions in this section include “Are managers provided with tools and advice to support the use of learned knowledge and skills on the job?” and “Does the evaluation reveal that the training should be adapted?”

The researchers hope the checklist will help ensure that the knowledge, skills, and attitudes learned in training actually improve job performance.

“We believe the checklist will eliminate unnecessary training, enable more motivated, engaged, and effective staff, and possibly serve as a gateway for cultural change within an organization,” Hughes says.

Additional coauthors on the paper are from the Houston Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation and Education and CSRA.

Source: Rice University