think organisation
Psychology of training.

In the UK, companies invest an average of £1,500 per employee annually on training (Employer Skills Survey, 2023). Despite this significant expenditure, many struggle to quantify the value added by these training initiatives, particularly when employing a one-size-fits-all approach known as the “sheep dip” method. This term, borrowed from the farming world where sheep are collectively treated with insecticide, describes a standardised training programme often labelled as “Refresher Courses.” However, amidst economic downturns, training budgets often come under scrutiny, with many considering cost-cutting measures. But is this approach short-sighted?

Think about driving a car.

Consider the analogy of learning to drive a car, a task that requires mastering technical elements, adjusting behaviours, and finding motivation amidst challenges. Just as each driver has unique needs and experiences, employees also have diverse learning styles and preferences. The journey of learning to drive involves overcoming obstacles, such as understanding road signs, mastering vehicle controls, and adapting to traffic conditions. Similarly, employees face challenges in acquiring new skills or behaviours, such as embracing new software or complying with safety protocols.

Training is the process of imparting specific skills or behaviours.

Training, fundamentally, is the process of imparting specific skills or behaviours, yet statistics reveal concerning gaps in training provision. 36% of UK employees are receiving no training or even a basic induction when starting a new job. A recent case study illustrates this further, where a company slashed its £200k training budget due to a perceived lack of returns and employee buy-in. Employees cited time constraints and perceived lack of benefits as reasons for resistance to training. However, a closer analysis by Think Organisation revealed that the root cause lay in the absence of clearly defined objectives for the training programmes.

In today’s ever-evolving business landscape, investing in employee training is not just about imparting knowledge. It’s also about understanding the intricacies of human psychology to enhance learning outcomes.

Addressing these issues requires a comprehensive understanding of psychology to optimise training effectiveness.

By aligning training objectives with intrinsic motivators, tailoring programmes to diverse learning styles, and measuring success beyond quantitative metrics, organisations can break free from the cycle of ineffective training.

Investing in training that speaks to employees’ motivations not only enhances performance but also fosters a culture of continuous improvement and psychological well-being within the workforce.

1. Defining Training Objectives

At the heart of every successful training endeavour lies a clear definition of its objectives. However, delving deeper into psychology reveals that these objectives should not only address skill enhancement or compliance but also tap into intrinsic motivators. For instance, when learning to drive a car, objectives go beyond mere technical proficiency; they encompass a sense of independence, freedom, and safety. By aligning training goals with these intrinsic motivators, organisations can create a more compelling narrative that fosters enthusiasm and commitment towards learning.

2. Tailoring Training to Audience Needs

Understanding the diverse learning styles and preferences of employees is vital, but psychology sheds light on the underlying mechanisms of effective learning. For example, concepts like cognitive load theory and spaced repetition can optimise information retention and transfer when learning to drive. Tailoring training to accommodate these psychological principles could involve providing hands-on practice sessions, visual aids, and constructive feedback. By creating immersive learning experiences that resonate with individuals on a deeper level, organisations can maximise engagement and knowledge retention, ultimately enhancing the effectiveness of training programmes.

3. Measuring Training Success

In the realm of psychology, measuring the success of training goes beyond mere quantitative metrics; it delves into the qualitative aspects of behavioural change and mindset shifts.

When learning to drive, success metrics could include not only passing a driving test but also exhibiting safe driving habits and confidence on the road. By incorporating techniques such as behavioural observation and self-reporting, organisations can gain valuable insights into the psychological impact of training on employees. This holistic approach not only provides a more nuanced understanding of training effectiveness but also fosters a culture of continuous improvement and psychological well-being within the workforce.

In summary . . .

As organisations navigate the complexities of employee development, integrating psychological principles into training initiatives can be a game-changer. By defining objectives that resonate with intrinsic motivators, tailoring training to leverage cognitive psychology, and measuring success through behavioural insights, companies can unlock the full potential of their workforce.

Ultimately, by understanding the psychology behind effective training, organisations can cultivate a learning culture that not only drives performance but also nurtures the psychological well-being of employees.

Empower your workforce with training that speaks to their intrinsic motivations; invest in programmes that harness the power of psychology to drive impactful learning.

Think Performance. Think Excellence. Think Impact.

If you would like help ensuring your training delivers return on investment reach out to the Think Organisation.

Check our Insights page for more valuable thought leadership.