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公司培训价值几何?

Gary M. Stern 2011年06月02日

许多公司对广告宣传和其他项目的投资回报率锱铢必较,却对培训项目的网开一面。原因何在?

    无论是从威廉姆•莎士比亚的作品中汲取管理的智慧,还是开展培训、优化团队,或是深入学习最新的应用程序开发软件,各种形式的培训业务在美国企业中占有重要的地位。但是,有多少公司真正跟进过这些培训项目的效果呢?如果进行了跟踪,具体又是如何操作的呢?

    美国培训与发展协会(American Society of Training & Development)2010年的行业报告显示,2009年,美国企业在员工学习与发展方面的开支达到惊人的1,259亿美元。公司往往会跟踪每一场广告宣传活动的每一个数据点,但却常常忽视培训开支的投资回报问题。公司在培训方面的投入,是否真的换来了相应的成果?

    尽管许多公司会收集数据,记录参加培训的员工人数以及培训的人均成本,但是多数公司都没有明确的衡量指标,以便将培训项目与最终的目标联系起来:即增加销量,开拓新客户,以及提高生产能力等。

    美国加州大学伯克利分校哈斯商学院(The University of California-Berkeley's Haas School of Business)的管理学讲师霍马•巴拉密认为,员工培训主要分为两大类:一类是产品、销售和技术类培训,主要培训特定的技能;另一类是“无形”培训,着眼于公司的领导力、团队效率与多元化等。

    我们能够轻而易举地对一个新软件培训项目的成果做出量化评价,但是想要找到一种简单明了的方式来衡量无形培训项目的效果,却不是件容易的事。

    美国西北大学凯洛格管理学院(Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management)负责高级管理人员培训的副院长史蒂芬•伯奈特认为:“尽管有些方面可能无法衡量,但我们依然可以采取一些量化方式来判断我们的钱是否花得值得。问题在于,我们有没有采取行动?”

    许多公司表示,很难衡量培训在增加公司利润中所发挥的作用。就算一家公司投入50,000美元来培训员工的社交媒体技巧,最终赢得了更多的客户,并为公司带来100,000美元的收益,公司就能够界定培训在其中的作用了吗?伯奈特表示怀疑。而且,即便如此,收入的增加往往归功于诸多因素,如何将培训的效果从其他因素中分离出来呢?

    有人认为,培训的侧重点,而不是其他因素,导致培训效果缺乏量化的衡量方法。卡尔霍恩•维克表示,大部分培训师“更关注培训本身,而不是培训的效果。”卡尔霍恩•维克是《让你在培训与业务拓展方面的投资物有所值》(Getting Your Money's Worth from Training and Development)一书的联合作者,同时也是培训咨询公司佛特希尔(Fort Hill Company)的联合创始人兼董事长。

    然而,这些衡量指标对CEO们来说意义重大。根据投资回报率研究所(ROI Institute)近期进行的一份研究显示,实际上,在96位《财富》500强公司的CEO中,有92位表示,他们最想知道,员工学习与发展项目对公司业绩的影响,但仅有8%的CEO表示,目前这些项目已经在公司中产生了效果。该研究所位于美国阿拉斯加州的伯明翰市,是一家研究与咨询机构。

    ROI主席杰克•J.菲利普斯表示:“首席学习官往往告诉CEO们,这些东西是无法衡量的。你需要无条件地相信它。”

    菲利普斯表示,许多人力资源主管和学习主管都回避进行这类衡量,因为他们担心这会危及到自己的饭碗。但是,他认为,这种担忧实际上是因误导而产生的。不论公司进行了客户满意度培训,生产力培训,还是质量控制培训,都可以针对一两个项目,衡量培训之前与之后的影响,然后确定课程的有效性。

    菲利普斯表示,判断培训项目效果的其他方法包括:设立控制组,与员工签订绩效合同,以及监控与培训项目挂钩的经营绩效等。

    菲利普斯曾为一家大型金融服务企业提供过咨询服务。这家公司通过考察其销售人员是否开设了新账户,以及每个账户所能带来的收益与公司领导力发展、员工留任及公司收益之间的关系,并将这些数据与培训成进行对比。

    哈斯商学院的高级经理培训中心(Center for Executive Education)在为挪威国家石油公司(Statoil)提供领导力培训时,中心工作人员设计了一个详细的调查问卷,了解该公司在培训后采取了哪些新措施,以及培训给公司带来了哪些新的业务等。

    菲利普斯表示,公司通过分析其培训的投资回报,可以改进其培训项目,“并且可以看到员工学习与发展之间的联系,以及这种联系是如何从根本上促进公司发展的。”

    格里利与汉森公司(Greeley and Hansen)的首席运营官(COO)约翰•罗贝克表示,在一定程度上,公司把培训作为留住工程师和专业人员的一种手段。格里利与汉森公司是一家位于芝加哥的环境工程公司。

    罗贝克表示:“公司会习惯性地把培训纳入成本与开销项目下。如果培训能带来可观的回报,那就可以把它视为投资,而不是开支。”

    安捷伦科技公司(Agilent Technologies)是位于美国加利福尼亚州圣克拉拉市的一家测量公司。该公司把检验领导力培训的效果,作为公司发展基因的一部分。安捷伦公司的首席学习官特雷莎•瑞秋表示,公司会为员工提供岗前培训,通过评估、互动式在线研讨会、在线培训和阅读等形式,使员工明确公司所追求的经营结果。之后,安捷伦公司会组织为期10周的岗位培训,在此期间,员工将专注于如何将个体的课程内容与公司的经营目标保持一致。

    美国培训与发展协会的发言人克里斯汀•法伊夫表示:“如果老板希望提高员工的参与度和忠诚度,就必须在培训方面投入资金。”她补充道,一旦业界领导者在企业内形成了“学习的文化”就可以吸引更多的优秀员工。

    培训往往并不显得那么紧迫,但制药行业是个例外。卡尔霍恩•维克表示,制药公司为员工提供生产培训,以符合美国食品及药品管理局(FDA)关于药品安全与生产的规定,否则就会影响公司的销售和盈利。他说:“如果制药公司不进行这项培训就得关门。可见,培训并非无足轻重。”

    维克认为,尽管常规的培训,例如关于团队建设的培训并不会导致如此严重的后果。但是,如果公司能够更清楚地意识到培训的紧迫性,同时提高对培训的投资回报的重视程度,公司的培训效果将大为改观。

    Whether it's harvesting pearls of management wisdom from the works of William Shakespeare, workshops on building better teams, or an in-depth exploration of the latest application development software, training business is big business at American corporations. But do any companies actually track what comes out of these programs? And, if so, how?

    American businesses spent a staggering $125.9 billion on employee learning and development in 2009, according to the American Society of Training & Development's 2010 industry report. While companies track every data point of an advertising campaign, they often ignore the return on investment on their training dollars. Are companies getting any bang for their training buck?

    While many companies collect data on the number of employees they train and the cost of training per person, most do not establish metrics that connect training sessions to the ultimate goals: improved sales, generating new customers and increased productivity.

    Staff training programs largely fall into two broad categories: product, sales, and technical training, which teach specific skills; and more "intangible" workshops on leadership, team effectiveness and diversity, says Homa Bahrami, a lecturer in management at The University of California-Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

    The results of a training session on new software can be quantified easily, but finding an easy way to gauge the benefits of intangible training programs is more complicated.

    "Even though some aspects might not be measurable, there are measurable ways to determine if the money was spent wisely. Did we take actions?" asks Stephen Burnett, associate dean of executive education at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.

    Many companies say it's difficult to measure training's role in raising revenue. But, Burnett wonders, can a company determine the impact of a $50,000 social media skills workshop on winning more customers that generated $100,000 in revenue? Granted, many factors contribute to increased revenues, but can you separate the effects of training from those other factors?

    Some say that the lack of performance measurement has more to do with the priorities of the training programs than anything else. Most trainers are "focused on delivery of learning rather than on improved results," says Calhoun Wick, co-author of Getting Your Money's Worth from Training and Development and founder and chairman of Fort Hill Company, a training consultancy.

    Nevertheless, these metrics matter a great deal to CEOs. In fact, 92 out of 96 Fortune 500 CEOs said that they are most interested in learning the business impact of their learning and development programs, but only 8% see that happening at their companies now, according to a study recently conducted by the ROI Institute, a Birmingham, Ala.-based research and consulting organization.

    "They're being told by chief learning officers that you can't measure these things. You have to take it on faith," says Jack J. Phillips, ROI's chairman.

    Phillips says many human resources heads and learning directors avoid producing these kinds of measurements because they fear for their jobs, but he says the worrying is misguided. Whether the training is on customer satisfaction, productivity or quality control, companies can zero in on one or two items, measure the before and after, and determine a course's effectiveness.

    Other techniques to isolate the benefits of training programs include establishing control groups, agreeing on performance contracts with employees, and monitoring business performance linked to the training workshops, Phillips says.

    When Phillips consulted for a large financial services firm, the company measured the relationship between leadership development, employee retention and revenue by determining whether its sales staff opened new accounts, how much revenue each account generated, and comparing that data to the cost of training.

    And when Haas' Center for Executive Education performed leadership training for Statoil, a Norwegian energy company, the center's staff designed a detailed questionnaire on what new actions were taken and what new business resulted from the training.

    Companies that study returns on training investments end up improving their education programs and "see the connection between learning and development and how it drives the bottom-line," Phillips says.

    Greeley and Hansen, a Chicago-based environmental engineering firm, uses its training partly as a way to retain its engineers, professionals who are difficult to recruit even in a tight job market, says COO John Robak

    "Organizations have traditionally treated training as a cost and expense. When training has a sufficient payback, it can be viewed as an investment, not an expense," Robak says.

    At Agilent Technologies, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based measurement company, examining the results of its leadership training is part of its DNA. The company does pre-training exercises which include assessments, interactive webinars, e-learning and readings to let staff know exactly what business results it seeks. Agilent then organizes 10-week post-training sessions where employees focus on how an individual course aligns with the company's business goals, says Teresa Roche, Agilent's chief learning officer.

    "If employers' want engagement and commitment, they must put money into training," says Kristen Fyfe, a spokesperson for the American Society of Training & Development. Industry leaders create "a culture of learning" at their organization, which enables them to attract the best employees, she adds.

    But training often lacks urgency. Calhoun Wick says pharmaceutical companies offer workshops to meet FDA regulations on the safety and manufacturing of drugs that influence its sales and revenue. "If they don't apply that training, they're out of business. There are real consequences," he says.

    A program on team building would not likely include a threat of such dire consequences, and for good reason. Just the same, more urgency and an increased focus on the return on investment would improve training at many companies, Wick says.

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