Why Your Company Should Be Spending Money On Employee Development

Is my company wasting money on employee training and development? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Andrew Cohen, CEO at Brainscape, on Quora:

Estimated to be a $325 billion industry in 2025, employee training and development is MASSIVE. And it makes sense: invest in your workforce and that money will pay huge dividends in the efficiency and quality of the work they deliver… right? RIGHT?

That’s the theory but I’ve found the opposite to be true.

Most employee development programs plod along the same paths cut by the brick-and-mortar institutions that have come before them. The only thing that seems to change is the content of the education itself and perhaps the addition of some pretty bells and whistles to the software.

So, yes, it would be fair to say that you are probably wasting your money.

But here’s the bigger picture…


While your brain is an incredibly complex tool and can learn to do just about anything, from juggling oranges to piloting spacecraft, it has FINITE resources, particularly short-term memory resources.

With repetition—particularly spaced repetition—your brain will eventually remember new information without help, but trying to cram an entire course of content into your brain in the span of a single seminar or three-day retreat isn’t going to achieve that.

Yet, that’s exactly what they do!

Picture it: You sign your employees up for one-day, three-day, or one-week workshops or seminars in an effort to get them trained up so that everyone can move on MAGICALLY more awesome than they were before.

But once the presentation is over or the workshop is drawn to a close, all that really remains are a few empty coffee cups and a lingering fart that Dave from I.T. dropped around the 45-minute mark. (Sound familiar?)

Unless you threaten to test your employees on the course material after they’ve been trained, any reference materials are very likely going to end up in recycling or on the bottom of someone’s parrot cage.

Don’t get me wrong: the purpose behind these programs can be critical for advancing workers’ capabilities, skills, and knowledge. But it’s little use investing money in this education if employees don’t remember what they learn.

Also, let’s not forget that, in most cases, employees just want to get the training OVER WITH. They have other things to worry about.

Once again, considering the enormous amounts of money companies spend on employee development, we should be making darn sure these programs actually work. And yet, they don’t. Or, to be more generous: they don’t work nearly as well as they should.

This is not even to mention these other typical problems and challenges:

  1. Information can’t be referenced once the training is done
  2. Courses and eLearning software are expensive
  3. The software itself is frustrating to use
  4. No metrics for gauging employee education
  5. Employees don’t benefit equally (because not everybody emerged from school/college with the best learning methodology for remembering pages and pages of information)

It’s a broken system.

So, yeah, you probably are wasting your money on employee training and development BUT that’s not to say you shouldn’t bother. Quite the contrary, I am a HUGE proponent of investing in the training of my employees’ skills and natural interests. I just know that unless that training system harnesses the proven cognitive science of spaced repetition, active recall, and metacognition, I’m probably wasting my money, too.

Check out ‘What’s missing in your company’s eLearning strategy for employee development?’ (It’s all in there!)

This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Source: www.forbes.com

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