Human Resources Management
Research Project: A Study of Effectiveness of Training Programs in Sunway Interior Design Studio

Abstract

This report is about investigation on the effectiveness of the characteristics of training program being implemented in Sunway Interior Design Studio. Consistent with the importance of training and development to an organizational performance in the competitive business environment, Sunway Interior Design Studio has been providing various training programs to the employees in the past 3 years. Among the training methods used can be categorized into two main categories. Namely, use of external training consultant and appointment on internal staffs or trainers for training and development exercises. In the report, the effectiveness of the various methods will be investigated. The results show that the different training methods are effective in different ways. The different training methods serve different purposes, and enhance the organizational performance in different manners. Thus, it is recommended that the company should understand the areas to be improved on in the organization before setting up a relevant training program.

Introduction

In the competitive business environment businesses are facing today, it is crucial to train and develop internal human talents and capabilities in any organization for superior performance or for any organization to attain competitive advantage in the competitive industry (Dyer et. al., 1988). Realizing such a need, Sunway Interior Design Studio has been providing various training programs to develop the competencies of internal workforce. However, the effectiveness of the different training methods used by Sunway Interior Design Studio is not investigated. In this report, the effectiveness of the different training methods utilized in Sunway Interior Design Studio will be investigated. By understanding the effectiveness of the different training methods used, the best possible training method can be selected, to be the primary choice of training methods to further develop the competencies of the workforce of Sunway Interior Design Studio in the future.

The report is arranged as follow. Firstly, a review of the previous literature on human resources training and development method is performed. Specifically, the various training methods and the respective effectiveness are reviewed. Then, the research methods used in this study will also be outlined. Later, the measurement methods utilized will be discussed as well. Then, data generated from the study will be presented. Data analysis will be performed. Following that, a discussion on the research findings or results will be performed.  Several conclusions on the research will be formed. The specific research questions used in the research design will also be presented under the Appendix section.

Literature Review

In the recent years, researchers and observers have been arguing that the business environment is becoming very competitive, due to the globalization process and the intensification of the competitive landscape due to changes in technologies and advancement of information technology (Chapman, 2003). Under such a situation, it is not hard to found arguments that the key contributors of competitive advantage to any organization is about the people. Thus, human resources management is very important aspect not to be neglected by management. Indeed, human resources management plays strategic roles in assisting the organization to achieve the organization missions and vision (Dyer et. al., 1988). In the context of human resources management however, organization development is often perceived as one of the key methods to growth and enhance the organizational performance. In such a way, training and development of workforce is something cannot be neglected by management for superior organizational performance, growth and sustainable profitability.

Generally speaking, training and development of workforce is often regarded the set of activities or programs planned, formulated and executed to support the workforce and organization learning process, to order to enhance the workforce knowledge, change their behaviors, attitudes or mindset, in order to achieve certain preset objectives for the benefits of the organization (Beardwell et. al., 2007). The importance of training and development is also well recorded. There are several literatures indicating the importance of training and development to organization performance. According to other researchers, however, training and development of workforce is necessary to enhance the responsiveness of the organization, for strategic changes of an organization as well as an important ingredient in effective management, empowerment and delegation process.

The formulation of training program, however, is nothing simple. Firstly, before any training program can be reasonable formulated, the objectives and expected benefits from the training and development programs must firstly be clarified (Goldstein, 1993). Once the training objectives are clear, then the relevant and effective training programs as well as the respective training methods can be outlined. There are many types of training methods available. In order to conduct the training programs, either external training consultant can be appointed to provide the relevant trainings or consultation to the workforce, or internal staffs or more senior and experienced workforce can be appointed to train the other employees in an organization (Swanson et. al., 2001). Apart from that, the many training methods are also available. For example, class room training method is one of the very famous training techniques to provide relevant knowledge, skills and even to change the behaviors of employees. It is one of the most economical training methods, and can be easily conducted by either internal or external training providers (Brown et. al., 2010).  Then, online training method is also becoming more popular in the recent years, consistent with the rise of information technology and proliferation of internet services throughout the globe. Under such training method, the training materials are uploaded to the internet or the intranet, and workforces are expected to study the materials using their own free time, and to have learning progress conducted by their selves (Jacobs et. al., 2003). Besides, other training methods include enrollment of workforce under some training workshop. For example, the company can choose to send the workforce to further their study in certain community school, universities or to attend short term workshop (Brinkerhoff, 2005).  Apart from that, on-the-job training is yet another effective training method. The new or inexperience workforce will be assigned a buddy or senior to guide him, and to teach him the relevant skills and competencies required in getting a particular job done (Swanson et. al., 2001). Under such training methods, the trainees can learn by practicing their skills during working hours, and they may be able to obtain direct feedback on their performances during the time they are carrying their tasks (Brinkerhoff, 2005). Other than that, team building is yet another highly popular training methods designed for behavioral changes for workforce. Under such training methods, games are designed to enhance the team work among employees, to teach them the relevant interpersonal skills, to train them on subject such as leadership, motivation, management, creative thinking and etc.

To conduct training for development of workforce competencies is just one part of the story. It is also crucial to have the proper training evaluation program to investigate if the training programs conducted are effective and indeed add value for the company (Brown et. al., 2010). Training evaluation is necessary because the costs incurred in conducting training program are nothing small. By having proper evaluation, many feedbacks about the training program can be collected, and these feedbacks are useful o further enhance the effectiveness of the training programs to be conducted in the future (Jacobs et. al., 2003). Lastly, it is also important to ensure that the management takes seriously on the training and development program implemented to the company (Sekowski, 2002); when proper evaluations are in place to ensure the effectiveness of the training programs.

Methodology

As discussed before, the objective of this study is to understand the effectiveness of the two categories of training program conducted in the company, namely, the appointment of external training consultants versus the use of internal trainers. Thus, the research methods to investigate the relative effectiveness of the different training methods will be discussed here.

There are various methods used by different researchers or scholars to investigate the effectiveness of a training program. In fact, different researchers or scholars may employ different methods to conduct the study on the level of effectiveness of a particular training program. Generally, it is widely agreed that a training program is successful and effective when the training objectives are met or fulfilled. Depending on the specific training program, certain or different training objectives are often prevalent. However generally, four common and reasonable training objectives can be readily summarized into four key categories. The four categories of training objectives include: (1) cognitive training objectives, (2) skill-based training objectives, (3) affective training objectives, and lastly (4) profitability objectives (Kirkpatrick et. al., 1996). Apart from that, there are also certain metrics or categorization of training objectives used by the researchers. For different scholars, different training objectives may be perceived as more important. However, it is comprehensive to understand that training methods can be separated into twelve training key performance metrics as follow: (1) improvement of workforce technical skills; (2) improvement of employees’ knowledge about their work; (3) improvement of workforce managerial skills; (4) improvement of workforce motivation to work; (5) improvement of workforce cooperative attitudes; (6) improvement of workforce behaviors; (7) improvement of workforce performance; (8) improvement product quality; (9) improvement of customer satisfaction; (10) improvement of market share; (11) reduction of operational costs; and lastly (12) improvement of net earnings/ profits (Goldstein, 1993). In this report, both the twelve training key performance metrics will be categorized under the four categories of training objectives, as shown in Table 1 below. Apart from that, these metrics will be utilized to measure the effectiveness of the training program implemented or conducted by Sunway Interior Design Studio.

 

Table 1: Four Categories of Training Objectives and the Respective KPI Metrics

table1

 

Measurement Criteria

In order to conduct the study, primary research method will be used. Under such method, a list of 7 point Likert-scale questionnaires will be developed. The answer from the trainees undergoing the training program will be interviews and asked to complete the questionnaires designed by them. From the lists of quantitative-base questionnaires, the relationships between the types of training consultants employed, with the degree of fulfillment and achievement of the stated training objectives will be compared and investigated. As long as the trainers participated in both types of training programs (i.e., those that conducted by external training consultants and those conducted by internal trainers working in the company), they will be selected to participate in this study. Trainees that have attended two types of training programs are selected because it is believed that they can provide more accurate feedback as they experienced the different types of training methods. As the size of the population that fulfill such characteristics is not hard to be covered in such a research, all of the trainees that had undergo both types of training programs can be selected and identified. The total amounts of trainees are relatively small, and are indeed manageable.

As it had been discussed in depth in the previous section, a total of twelve training KPI metrics will be used to measure the effectiveness of the different providers of training program. The twelve training KPI metrics include: (1) improvement of workforce technical skills; (2) improvement of employees’ knowledge about their work; (3) improvement of workforce managerial skills; (4) improvement of workforce motivation to work; (5) improvement of workforce cooperative attitudes; (6) improvement of workforce behaviors; (7) improvement of workforce performance; (8) improvement product quality; (9) improvement of customer satisfaction; (10) improvement of market share; (11) reduction of operational costs; and lastly (12) improvement of net earnings/ profits. Following such measurement criteria, the questionnaires designed is provided in Appendix section, at the end of this report.

The questionnaires are designed into two key parts. In the first part, the characteristics of the training program are investigated. In order to do this, the trainees will be asked on the types of training programs that they had undergone. After the relevant training characteristics are identified, in the second part of the questionnaires, the feedback from the trainees on the effectiveness and the relative performance of the training program will be asked. For this purpose, the twelve training KPI metrics will be used. The higher the marks of the respective KPI metrics the trainees rate it; it is perceived that the training program conducted is more effective.

After the results and feedback from the trainees are collected, the feedback will then be tabulated into Excel Spreadsheet for data analysis purposes. Software useful for conducting quantities analysis such as SPSS can be used. The effectiveness of the training programs, from the different training KPI metrics/ dimensions, can be investigated with the average score or ratings provided by all of the trainees. Technically, the higher the average score on a particular training KPI metrics, it can be perceived that the types of training methods is effective in achieving that respective training KPI metric.

Data Presentation and Analysis

After the data is collected, data analysis is performed using SPSS. In this section, the research findings, obtained from SPSS will be presented. The descriptive statistics of each of the questions in the questionnaires will be presented. As will be shown in Table 2 and Table 3 below, the effectiveness of the different training programs are presented. Table 2 shows the relevant results findings of the effectiveness of training programs conducted by internal trainers; while Table 3 shows the research findings on the effectiveness of the training program conducted by external training consultants.

In this section, the effectiveness of the training program, due to the usage of either internal trainer or external trainers will be discussed and analyzed. To do this, we can compare the data presented in Table 2 and Table 3. Table 2 shows the results findings on effectiveness of the training program due to internal trainers, while Table 3 shows the results findings on effectiveness of the training program due to external trainers. The effectiveness of the different perspectives or dimensions of the training program is measured by the average scores of the ratings provided by the trainees in the Likert scale questionnaire.

 

Table 2: Scores of Effectiveness of the Training Program by Internal Trainers

2

 

Table 3: Scores of Effectiveness of the Training Program by External Trainers

table-3

 

Overall, it can be judged that both the training methods, either conducted by internal or external training providers, are roughly effective, from different dimensions or training KPI metrics. For example, the training programs provided by internal staffs are somehow effective in enhancing workforce technical skills, knowledge on the workplace, improving the final product quality, enhance customer satisfaction, enlarge market shares, reduction of operational costs, and lastly, enhance earning profits. However, the training program conducted by external trainers apparently score better in behavioral changing objectives, such as to enhance the managerial skills of the workforce, the motivation level, cooperative attitudes, and to shape the desired behaviors among the workforce.

Discussion

Generally, from this study, it can be observed that different types of training methods are effective in different sense. The different training methods serve different purposes. Thus, it is crucial to ensure that the types of training program conducted are suitable to the situation, and able to fulfill the desired training objectives. As from the findings in this report, there are real differences on the end results of having the external consultants or the internal trainers to conduct the training. Thus, depending on the training objectives, different trainers should be used for achieving different objectives.

Recommendations

There are several limitations on this research that worth mentioning. Firstly, such a research is conducted in only a small company, namely Sunway Interior Design Studio. Thus, the research design may not imply that similar findings or results are to be expected in different company. Secondly, the research design is a relatively simple one. In order to attain more in-depth findings on the training programs conducted in the company, more refined research can be conducted. For example, it is possible to conduct a research if the different training methods, namely, classroom training method, online training methods, on-the-job training method, team building training methods or other sort of training methods are effective.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is found that different types of training methods are effective in different ways – they simply serve different purposes. The different training methods serve different purposes. Thus, it is crucial to ensure that the types of training program conducted are suitable to the situation, and able to fulfill the desired training objectives. As from the findings in this report, there are real differences on the end results of having the external consultants or the internal trainers to conduct the training. The training programs provided by internal staffs are somehow effective in enhancing workforce technical skills, knowledge on the workplace, improving the final product quality, enhance customer satisfaction, enlarge market shares, reduction of operational costs, and lastly, enhance earning profits. However, the training program conducted by external trainers apparently score better in behavioral changing objectives, such as to enhance the managerial skills of the workforce, the motivation level, cooperative attitudes, and to shape the desired behaviors among the workforce.

References

Beardwell, J. & Claydon, T. (2007). Human Resource Management: A Contemporary Approach, (5th edn). Prentice Hall

Brinkerhoff, R. O. (2005). The Success Case Method: A Strategic Evaluation Approach to Increasing the Value and Effect of Training. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 7(1), 86-101.

Brown, G., & Xin, W. (2010, March). Practical considerations in arranging for employee training. China Staff, 16(3), 45-46.

Cavana, R. Y., Delahaye, B. L., and Sekaran, U. (2001), Applied Business Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methods, Willey & Sons, Ltd.

Chapman, M. H. (2003). The return on investment for training. Compensation and Benefits Review, 35(1), 32-37.

Dyer, L., & Holder, G. W. (1988). A strategic perspective of HRM. In L. Dyer & G.W. Holder (Eds.), Human Resource Management: Evolving Roles and Responsibilities. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of National Affairs.

Goldstein, I. L. (1993). Training in Organizations: Needs Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (Third ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks and Cole.

Ham, J. C. (1994). Looking into the black box: Using experimental data to find out how training works. International Journal of Manpower, 15(5), 32-37.

Jacobs, R. L. & Washington, C. (2003). Employee development and organizational performance: A review of literature and directions for future research. Human Resource Development International, 6(3), 343-354.

Kinnear, T. C., and Taylor, J. R. (2001). Marketing Research and The Applied Approaches. McGraw Hill International.

Kirkpatrick, D. L. (1996). Great ideas revisited technique for evaluating training programs: Revisiting Kirkpatrick’s four-level model. Training & Development, 50(1), 54-59.

Leach, M. P. & Liu, A. H. (2003). Investigating interrelationships among sales training evaluation methods. Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 23(4), 327-240.

Sekaran, U. (1992). Research Methods for Business: A Skill Building Approach. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Sekowski, G. J. (2002). Evaluating training outcomes: Testing an expanded model of training outcome criteria. Unpublished Ph. D. Dissertation, Depaul University.

Sleezer, C. M. (1993). Training needs assessment at work: A dynamic process. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 4(3), 247-264.

Swanson, R. A. & Holton, E. F. (2001). Foundations of human resource development. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Weinberg, S. L. (2002). Data analysis for the behavioral sciences using SPSS. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Appendix

In the initial section of this questionnaire, the characteristics of the training program will be investigated. The questionnaires to be distributed are designed as follow:

 

  1. Who developed and deliver the training and development program? (Please choose one only)
    1. In-house training personnel
    2. Private training vendor/ consultants

 

  1. What types of training program is being conducted? (Please choose one only)
    1. Classroom presentation
    2. Website presentation
    3. On the job training
    4. Team building

 

In the second part of the questionnaire, a list of Likert-scale questions intended to evaluate the training effectiveness will be distributed to the participants.

 

(Rate from 1 to 7, where 1 indicates Strongly Disagree and 7 indicates Strongly Agree.)

 

  1. The training programs delivered are effective in improving workforce technical skills.
  2. The training programs delivered are effective in increasing workforce knowledge about their work.
  3. The training programs delivered increases the workforce managerial skills.
  4. The training programs delivered increases the workforce motivation to work.
  5. The training programs delivered increases the workforce cooperative attitudes.
  6. The training programs delivered changes the workforce behaviors.
  7. The training programs delivered increases the workforce performance.
  8. The training programs delivered improves the product quality.
  9. The training programs delivered improves customer satisfaction.
  10. The training programs delivered increases the market share.
  11. The training programs delivered reduces the operational costs.
  12. The training programs delivered increases the net earnings/ profits of the company.

 

 

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