High-performing companies invest more in training

A client of ours recently asked how many hours of safety training employees should receive each year. The answer, much like other things in life, is “it depends.”

Training requirements are influenced by a number of factors including industry type, the regulatory environment, employee tenure and senior management commitment. For example, new employees tend to have higher incident rates than their more experienced colleagues and may need extra training as part of the on-boarding process.

  • Based on our experience at UL Workplace Health & Safety, we have found that time committed to safety training varies greatly. In addition to mandatory OSHA 10-hour and OSHA 30-hour training courses, many employers provide customized training and also are moving toward the adoption of mobile applications that support moment-of-need safety training.

Training and development trends

A 2013 state-of-the-industry report from the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) helps shed some light on the question in general terms:

  • Employees averaged 30.3 hours of training in 2012.
  • Employees in top-performing organizations used substantially higher amounts of training –an average of 57.7 hours each – an all-time high compared to previous surveys.
  • Technology-based delivery of instruction rose to 39 percent of formal hours, up from 37.2 percent in 2011.
  • The top three areas of training content in 2012 were managerial and supervisory (13.5 percent); mandatory and compliance (10.8 percent); and processes, procedures and business practices (9.9 percent).

According to the ASTD report, employers spent $164.2 billion on learning and development in 2012, an average of $1,195 per employee. As a percent of payroll, direct expenditures on learning increased from 3.2 to 3.6 percent between 2011 and 2012 (2012-13 comparison data not yet available). Companies with less than 500 employees typically spend more on training per employee than larger organizations.

The Corporate Learning Factbook 2013: Benchmarks, Trends, and Analysis of the U.S. Training Market, by the human resource firm Bersin by Deloitte, shows training dollars rose 12 percent on average in 2012.  In this study, more than 300 companies representing a broad cross-section of industries spent an average of $706 per learner. Organizations with mature, effective learning functions, i.e., high-impact learning organizations, spent $867 per learner, 34 percent more than companies at the lowest maturity level. Bersin by Deloitte says high-impact learning organizations focus on improving performance through training and other talent initiatives to meet business goals and respond to changes in the marketplace.

If you look at Training Magazine’s list of Top 125 Training Companies for 2014 – the companies considered unsurpassed in harnessing human capital – you’ll find the mean training budget represents 5.84 percent of payroll. Among the Top 125, the mean number of total employees trained per organization (including independent contractors and franchisees) was 31,079, with 16,577 trained in the classroom and 29,744 trained online. A mean of 451 courses were offered as instructor-led sessions, 1,709 were offered as online self-paced modules and 165 were offered as virtual instructor-led classrooms.Jiffy Lube, the company ranked first on the Top-125 list, reportedly doubled the number of training hours it provides to employees and found a correlation with success: stores with a 100 percent training certification completion rate reported 9 percent higher sales in comparison to other stores.

Well-trained employees also have been shown to be more productive, averaging a 23 percent higher- margin product than untrained employees.

How do you measure the value of training in your organization?

According to a 2013 white paper on learning and development from the Center for Talent Reporting, every organization should employ three types of training performance measures: outcomes, effectiveness and efficiency:

  • Outcomes reflect the impact learning and development is expected to have on your organization’s most important goals.
  • Effectiveness is how well learning contributes to organizational outcomes, typically using the Kirkpatrick/Phillips model for evaluating human resource development and training.
  • Efficiency is your organization’s activity and investment in learning using metrics such as numbers of learners, number of courses, cycle times, utilization rates, costs and percentage of employees reached by training.

What is the take-home message?

We know that eLearning is about so much more than time and money spent on training. Effective online training should be designed to encourage employee engagement and retention, establish the foundation for a strong safety culture, and provide a consistent, repeatable learning experience for all employees. An investment in training produces safer employees and provides organizations with a return on higher productivity, lower costs, improved competitiveness, higher profits and economic growth.

To learn more about UL’S OSHA Solutions please, click here. 

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