What are the major challenges in the management of human resource training and development activities?
In any business environment, the human resources are the most important productivity factor. They can make the difference between organizational profitability and lack thereof. The ability of organizations to benefit optimally from the human resources is linked to the level of intellectualism and skills possessed by the work force. To effectively implement the skills and knowledge held by the human resources, there is need for effective communication and language capability. The level of education of the work force is therefore an important factor of consideration in decision making regarding work performance. Abdullah (2009) reported that any communication and language problems among the work force can result in negative impacts on training, learning and skills development. Lack of intellectualism is however, not the only rationale for the absence of communication and language capabilities among human resources.
In the contemporary times, globalization has occurred extensively, resulting in a lot of work place diversification. As a result, cultural integration has become an important part of the conventional work place. With cultural integration, language and communication issues have increased significantly over the years. Any professional human resource development personnel should be able to understand the cultural differences in the work place and thereby manage their employees better. The overall objective would be to train employees to enable them improve in their roles as well as in their communication and language competencies. For this to happen, the human resource management function has to contend with various challenges in the work place and subsequently determine the best approach to training and developing workers for better performance. Abdullah (2009) identified some of the most common challenges to effective employee training and development. Through these challenges, it will be possible to view the organizational context as in constant need for review and development.
Shortage of intellectual HRD professionals to manage training and development activities
In any organization, it is important to hire educated, skilled and knowledgeable employees in all operational sectors. This is because they are the main human capital in the organization and their performance affects the overall organizational performance immensely. According to Abdullah (2009), human resource development (HRD) practices in an organization can determine the extent of skill building among employees. HRD practitioners should therefore be competent enough to manage the skills of others while also adding value to the organization through their own skills. They should be able to plan, organize and execute employee training and development activities subject to the consideration of the organizational needs and employee skills. HRD professionals are therefore an important human asset in an organization due to the set of skills, knowledge and experiences they posses, which enable them to train and develop others. The main challenge to employee training and development in the contemporary organizations therefore, is that most of the HRD professionals contracted to manage employee development have insufficient skills and competencies which do not enable them to work effectively in developing others.
Intellectual limitations in HRD professionals are thus considered the greatest impediment to employee training and development across the board. Most manufacturing firms that were interviewed in study by Abdullah (2009) reported that the common occurrences include lack of skills for conducting the relevant HRD functions including conducting needs analysis among the workers; evaluating performance and performing follow- up on assessments. Such short comings impede the implementation of employee HR training and development initiatives based on the reports of various managers. In some of the interviews conducted by Abdullah (2009), the respondents reported that they always hire external trainers for the development of workers yet do not have internal expertise to monitor implementation practices. The concern about shortage of intellectually competent HRD professionals was also shared by other researchers who indicated that the manufacturing sector in particular, suffers from a shortage of competent professionals in HRD. The challenge implies that for employers to effectively conduct worker training and development, they have to recruit expert HRD professionals different from the everyday team, to manage the process of HRD. The main challenge that has resulted in lack of competence among HRD professionals is that most of the human resource managers view employee training as secondary to the process of employee management. Change towards the required level of HRD professionalism and competence can only be accomplished if HRD professionals recognize the importance of T & D for employees in an organizational setting.
Coping with the demand for knowledge workers
The second challenge to employee training and development as established by Abdullah (2009) is that of coping with the demand for knowledge workers. Government HRD policies campaign for organizations to train and equip their employees with different skills and enable them to become knowledge workers. Once trained, knowledge workers may be exposed to different work environments which build their skills for other organizations in demand of knowledge workers. Some of the concerns raised under this challenge include the capacity to hire and retain competent workers in an organization, low education levels among the workforce and an increase in the ageing workforce.
Technical expertise is hard to come by in the manufacturing industry, and there is great competition among companies to get the best employees. HRD practitioners and employers are therefore faced with the challenge of hiring competent, knowledgeable expertise even though the government has initiated several technical and vocational institutions. In the competitive manufacturing sector, such competence is difficult to retain as they easily get other opportunities and move. Getting employees to stay after offering expensive training is another challenge which limits organizational willingness to train and develop employees (Abdullah, 2009). Once employees have been trained by a company, they cannot be prevented from looking for better prospects and their companies therefore incur losses in terms of training costs.
Fostering learning and development in the work place
The objective of HR training and development activities in any organization is to change individual behaviors and work attitudes. The attitudes of employees towards their jobs should be positive for an organization to benefit from its human resources. However, HR professionals are often confronted with challenges in relation to employee attitudes and behaviors. Senior and line managers in an organization can pose a challenge to employee training and development through uncooperative behaviors towards the HRD practitioners. Such behaviors limit the efficiency of the HRD. Line managers limit the efficiency of training and development by failing to release their employees for training and leaning purposes. The line supervisors have the perception that production is the most important operational aspect, which makes it difficult for them to allow training programmes to progress smoothly. Most of the manufacturing line managers argue that such trainings are a waste of time even though they are aware of the impacts of trainings on the employee productivity.
On their part, line managers interviewed during the study by Abdullah (2009) indicated that the major reason why they limit their support for training programmes is because of the heavy work load in production lines. Besides this, employees are also unable to transfer their learning to the work environment. The work environment can be a support or impediment to knowledge transfer. In the study by Abdullah (2009), it was confirmed the physical, psychological and social environment within which employees work can encourage or discourage the acquisition and transfer of skills in the work place. The employees’ attitudes towards their jobs, other employees and the leaders, also affect their capacity to transfer knowledge to others. In an environment where employees are trained to share the knowledge, such an attitude can discourage engagement in HRD activities.
Employee training and development is one of the major contributors to effective performance in an organizational setting. Most employees desire to learn more on the job and to improve their performance relative to others. However, various challenges can limit the capacity or willingness of an organization to invest in efficient HRD practices. Some of these challenges as described by Abdullah (2009), include lack of intellectually competent HRD professionals, challenges in coping with the demand for knowledge workers and challenges related to fostering learning in the work place. HRD professionals in an organization should be the internal managers of the training and development activities in the workplace. This therefore implies that when the HRD practitioners lack the requisite skills, it may be difficult for them to plan and manage the HRD process effectively.
Abdullah, H. (2009). Major challenges to the effective management of human resource training and development activities. The Journal of International Social Research, 2(8), 11- 25.