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Training and Development: Investing in Employees Through Assessment



Training and development programs are essential to organizational sustainability. This white paper explores human capital perspectives of training and development as supported by experiential learning. Recommendations are offered to support training and development in organizations using training needs assessment and understanding employee desires for development. Keywords: Training & Development, Human Capital, Training Needs Assessment, Experiential learning
Scholar Chatter, Volume 3, Issue 1, 2022
ISSN 2692-8426 (online)
Training and Development: Investing in Employees Through Assessment
Author 1 ORCID:
Author 1 Affiliation: Tarrah A. Whitehead, EdD, Grand Canyon University
SC Classification Genre: Business/Human Resources
Creative Commons Attribution
Citation: Whitehead, T. A. (2022). Training and development: Investing in employees through
assessment. Scholar Chatter, 3(1), 16.
© The Author, 2022. This is an open-access publication through Scholar Chatter.
Training and development programs are essential to organizational sustainability. This white
paper explores human capital perspectives of training and development as supported by
experiential learning. Recommendations are offered to support training and development in
organizations using training needs assessment and understanding employee desires for
Keywords: Training & Development, Human Capital, Training Needs Assessment, Experiential
Employees' training and development (T&D) is a key element in growing an
organization. The overall investment in workplace training decreased in the United States from
$93.6 billion in 2017 to $82.5 billion in 2020 (Statista Research Department, 2022),
demonstrating that organizations may not be as committed despite a continuously changing
economic environment for T&D initiatives as they were pre-pandemic. Ongoing T&D can
influence the success employees have in their current position. T&D also allows employees to
prepare for any promotional opportunities available to them. T&D success will be evident when
an employee can implement what was learned in training in a day-to-day routine, leading to
accomplishing personal and organizational goals.
Training is a planned and systematic set of activities designed to attain knowledge, skills,
and attitudes (KSAs). Consequently, effective training occurs when management intentionally
provides employees with strategically planned opportunities to learn targeted KSAs through
instruction, demonstration, practice, and offering timely feedback about performance.
Scholar Chatter, Volume 3, Issue 1, 2022
ISSN 2692-8426 (online)
Continuous support for professional development (i.e., planning, organizing, and monitoring)
includes more than the basic job functions of employees. Organized T&D activities allow
organizations to adapt to changing markets, compete, excel, innovate, improve services, and
reach goals (Klepić, 2021). Decisions about what topics to use for, how to conduct training, and
how training would be implemented and evaluated should be informed by the people involved in
each training process (i.e., management and employees).
Training and Development
Training is a set of activities planned on behalf of an organization that increases job
knowledge and skills or modification of attitudes and social behavior of organizational members
to align with organizational goals and job requirements (Kraiger, 2017). The development
portion of training refers to employees' personal growth seen in newly learned abilities and skills
that can translate into their jobs. Most organizations invest in T&D so employees can remain
competitive and viable within their roles. Not only will ongoing T&D aid the employees to be
competitive in the workplace, but also ongoing T&D will allow companies to compete with
others in their industry. With many training opportunities available, people who search for
opportunities are more likely to advance in their careers.
When the focus of T&D is placed on professional development, the people involved will
expand individual, group, and organizational effectiveness through what is learned (Meyer,
2021). Learning and training are similar, but not the same. Training means a wide range of
learning actions attained from individuals' training to complete a task. Learning is the transfer of
knowledge that improves organizational processes (Kraiger, 2017). Hence, T&D involves
obtaining and transferring KSAs needed to carry out an activity. These KSAs are then considered
an investment in the employee to enhance organizational effectiveness.
Human Capital Theory
The human capital theory views the T&D of employees as an investment and is based on
labor markets, education, and economic growth. It assumes that employees are beneficial
resources and attempts to determine whether well-trained employees are more productive than
other employees (Osiobe, 2019). Moreover, this theory is concerned with the return on training
investment, of which there is evidence suggesting that the increase in training is reflected
positively on employee performance (Chen, 2020).
Investments in training and other development procedures create an organizational
climate for constant learning that facilitates the transfer of knowledge and ideas. The successful
development of highly motivated employees is necessary for organizational development, which
builds an organization's competitive edge regarding employable skills (Sung & Choi, 2018).
Organizations can invest in employees via two avenues of support: Corporate training or
financial support for education. Corporate training involves company-specific, internal training
that aims to achieve specific skill-building and performance gain. This avenue directly addresses
the current training needs of the organization. Organizations that allocate resources to initiate in-
house training programs are more likely to reinforce company-specific human capital in a shorter
period (Hewett et al., 2018). Financial support for employee education is designed to directly
improve task skills and competencies customized for a given professional role (Botke et al.,
Scholar Chatter, Volume 3, Issue 1, 2022
ISSN 2692-8426 (online)
2018). Financial support for education is often geared towards employee self-development
efforts that address personal needs and self-identified goals. These goals are used to improve
one's overall task-related competencies.
Organizations that use ongoing T&D as a continued investment sustain a competitive
advantage by continuously creating, expanding, upgrading, and keeping training relevant to the
industry's unique market offerings. Whether developed by human resources within the
organization or by consultation from outside of the organization, strategic training is more likely
to influence employee interpretations about the organization's commitment to employee
development (Botke et al., 2018). Human resource practices introducing strategic training have
influenced employee behaviors, such as commitment, satisfaction, and productivity.
Additionally, training influences employee attributes like attitude or behavioral responses
(Hewett et al., 2018). Organizations that continuously invest in T&D, especially when there are
industry uncertainties, should be conscious of employee needs that may potentially have adverse
effects associated with employee behaviors and attitudes. Employee interpretations about human
resource practices of investing in T&D are a critical component in employee commitment and
satisfaction. This form of investment has an overall positive effect on the mentioned
characteristics of employees. Inversely, organizations that do not invest in T&D report a negative
implication for employees' behavior and attitudes due to the implication that employees are
expendable commodities (Botke et al., 2018). When employees feel their skillsets are disposable
and are not correctly nurtured through additional training, employee attitudes and behaviors will
fluctuate. Therefore, organizations that invest in T&D will see an overall improvement in
employee satisfaction and organizational commitment.
Experiential learning theory
When considering effective T&D programs, one must thoroughly understand the process
of adult learning. Experiential learning theory (ELT) is a holistic model of the learning process
of adult development (Dochy et al., 2021). ELT expresses those experiences are a core element
in the learning process. Experiential learning (EL) encompasses an undeviating encounter with
the phenomenon being learned instead of simply thinking about the encounter or considering
changing the experience. Thus, ELT is the process where knowledge is created via the
transformation of experience (Morris, 2020). Therefore, knowledge results from combining,
grasping, and transforming the experience through reflection. EL takes place when a person is
involved in an activity, such as a training program, then retrospectively evaluates the experience
to determine what was useful or important to remember, then uses the learned information to
perform the activity.
Learning from experiences occurs in a four-stage cycle of concrete experience (CE),
abstract conceptualization (AC), reflective observation (RO), and active experimentation (AE;
Dochy et al., 2021). Considering one cannot use all modes of receiving and transforming
information simultaneously, a learner is forced to choose a stage that best suits them during the
learning experience. ELT suggests that learners develop a preferred way of learning based on
genetics, past life experiences, and perceptions of the demands of the present environment
(Morris, 2020). Choosing between CE and AC and between AE and RO is called individual
learning styles (Dochy et al., 2021). Morris (2020) identified such styles as diverging,
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ISSN 2692-8426 (online)
assimilating, converging, and accommodating. Understanding these adult learning styles is
imperative forT&D due to the process of acquiring and refining KSAs.
Training Needs Assessment
Training needs assessment (TNA) is a systematic process of collecting data to determine
the effectiveness and efficiency of training programs as well as to make decisions about training
(Fregonese et al., 2018). Training is evaluated on four levels. The first level is reactions, which
evaluates trainees' affective and attitudinal reactions. The second is learning, which evaluates if
trainees have learned the training material and acquired knowledge. Next is behavior, which
evaluates if trainees have applied training on the job. The final level is results, which evaluates
the training program to see if it has improved organizational outcomes (Dewi & Kartowagiran,
2018). Training evaluations can be an effective means for enhancing the possibility of transfer. It
has been found that receiving feedback on one's performance following a training program
positively affects perceptions of training transfer (Dewi & Kartowagiran, 2018).
Traditionally, the two types of trainable skills within an organization are hard and soft.
Assessing these skills at different phases of training, before, during, and after, may help
organizations identify whether the training program meets the needs of the trainees (Alsalamah
& Callinan, 2022). Overall, the assessment will reveal to the organization if the investment in
training was worthwhile. In addition, when training effectiveness is assessed upon completion of
training, such knowledge assists the organization in maintaining, improving, or creating a new
curriculum for future training. Before a training program is implemented, the organization must
understand how past and present experiences enhance the process of training for future
organizational involvement.
There are two reasons to assess the relationship between training evaluation and transfer
of training. The first is to identify weaknesses and decide whether to discontinue existing
training programs or adjust for future sessions (Dochy et al., 2021). Therefore, TNAs are
associated with training transfer because organizations that evaluate training programs will have
information that promotes redesign and improvement. TNAs consequently make the training
program more effective and the transfer process possible. Second, there is increased
accountability in training transfer. Accountability is viewed as the degree to which the
organization, culture, or management expects the learner to use learned KSAs on the job and will
hold the employee responsible for transfer (Fregonese et al., 2018). Overall, training
accountability is a follow-up mechanism to set an organizational standard and gauges
performance over time (Baldwin et al., 2017).
Regularly implementing TNAs allows administrators to determine the viability of
training methods that prepare employees to accomplish goals, execute strategies and advance
hierarchical learning (Alsalamah & Callinan, 2022). TNAs also provide evidence to management
and human resource departments for training improvement and assistance in making more
accurate decisions about continuing current training courses (Hamilton & Sodeman, 2020).
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ISSN 2692-8426 (online)
Furthermore, the assessment of training programs can assist human resource departments and
management with attracting potential job candidates through improved marketing as well as
retaining qualified employees in a growing competitive market (Hamilton & Sodeman, 2020).
Evaluations are the most important approach to ensure accountability for improving
training transfer. Trainees who expect follow-up regarding their experience in training reported
stronger intentions to transfer what was learned in training into their job roles. The idea that an
organization requires a trainee to complete a post-training assessment promotes accountability
for one's learning and conveys the message that training is important (Högfeldt et al., 2017). The
importance of evaluation for transfer makes trainees, trainers, and others accountable for
successful transfer after the training is conducted. Ultimately, TNAs aid in creating a culture that
values learning and the application of knowledge to the job.
The author received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication
of this article.
A special thank you to Scholar Chatter and Dr. Jules for allowing me to publish with their
organization. I am grateful for the guidance and support you have offered as I enter the next
phase of my academic career.
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