The Importance of Training Transfer

Most organisations have processes in place to provide personal and professional development.  Sending staff to attend training is one way to invest in your people.  This blog explores what organisations can expect by way of return on their training investment – positive, negative or nil (neutral= zero)


Why do organisations train their staff? 

Have a think about this for a moment……  You may respond to this question with the following answers: organisations train their staff in order to provide them with relevant skills and knowledge related to the job; to ensure their staff are following all policies & procedures, so that there is a uniform approach to standardised workplace practices; to ensure that all legislative requirements are upheld in all work-related tasks. 


Bottom Line = Return on Investment

Training your staff should have a tangible return and not merely be an exercise in ‘ticking the boxes’.  The reason businesses and organisations should be training their people is to realise a positive return on their training investment – that is, that the business will see a definite, noticeable, and measurable difference as a result of the training such that the business benefits overall.  Resources that are devoted to training usually involve a considerable financial investment for a business or organisation.   Financially, the return on training investment should mean less money out and more money in – a healthier bottom line!


What is Training Transfer?

There is only one reason for you to send people to training – because there is an identified gap.   Your staff are employed to fulfil a role.  In order to meet the requirements of this role not only do they require the appropriate resources; they also must possess the relevant knowledge, skills, and attitude.  If there is a gap in what they know or are able to do in relation to their job role (or even how they do it), then and only then is there a need for training.


Training by its definition will impart new knowledge, teach a new skill or demonstrate the appropriate attitude for the workplace.  Training transfer is the realisation of the investment – how training has affected the attendees: it will either be positive, negative or zero.


1.   Positive Transfer – This is achieved when the attendees to training return to the workplace and perform better than they would have without the training. They can now solve problems they couldn’t before, or they are more productive, more efficient, more engaged, more motivated.  Results are noticeable, measurable and desired.  The training has added value to the business as a result.


2.   Negative Transfer – This occurs training has a detrimental effect and results in training participants performing worse than they would have had they not gone to training at all.


3.   Zero Transfer – This occurs when the acquisition of a new skill or new knowledge has absolutely no effect in the workplace.  The productivity or performance of the staff who attended training is neither enhanced nor hindered.  If the trainer was fun and interesting but resulted in a zero transfer, the company has just invested in a good entertainment session for its staff!



Where does Training Fit in an Organisation or Business?

So before training is decided upon as a course of action, before we can even begin to discuss return on investment, training needs to be clearly situated within an organisation – it is important to identify the role training plays in the workplace.  It needs to be an integrated part of the whole work environment, from induction to up skilling, from performance review to moving an organisation into a new phase of existence. 


The context of training, therefore, must clearly be established throughout the various levels of an organisation or business, and its role supported by other factors in the workplace. These factors include not only the design and delivery of training, but also the role supervisors and managers have in relation to learning and development, the culture of the workplace, the performance review systems that are in place, all the way up to the vision of the organisation – training must align itself to the values and direction of the company.


My next blog explores how to do this – how to ensure every training session will result in a positive return on the training investment your business or organisation makes in their staff.


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