To ensure that both new and experienced employees have the knowledge and skills to perform their jobs successfully, organizations invest in training and development activities. Training and development involves learning situations in which the employee acquires additional knowledge or skills to increase job performance. Training objectives specify performance improvements, reductions in errors, job knowledge to be gained, and/or other positive organizational results. The process of creating and implementing training and development activities is shown in Figure 7.7: “Employee Training and Development Process”. Training is done either on the job or off the job.
New-employee training is essential and usually begins with orientation, which entails getting the new employee ready to perform on the job. Formal orientation (often a half-day classroom program) provides information about the company history, company values and expectations, policies, and the customers the company serves, as well as an overview of products and services. More important, however, is the specific job orientation by the new employee’s supervisor concerning work rules, equipment, and performance expectations. This second briefing tends to be more informal and may last for several days or even weeks.
Beyond employee orientation, job training takes place at the job site or workstation and is directly related to the job. This training involves specific job instruction, coaching (guidance given to new employees by experienced ones), special project assignments, or job rotation. Job rotation is the reassignment of workers to several different jobs over time. At Walmart, management trainees rotate through three or more merchandising departments, customer service, credit, and even the human resource department during the first year or two on the job.
Two other forms of on-the-job training are apprenticeship and mentoring. An apprenticeship usually combines specific on-the-job instruction with classroom training. It may last as long as four years and can be found in the skilled trades of carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work. Mentoring involves a senior manager or other experienced employee providing job- and career-related information to a mentee. Inexpensive and providing instantaneous feedback, mentoring is becoming increasingly popular with many firms, including FedEx, Merrill Lynch, Dow Chemical, and Bank of America. Whereas mentoring is typically conducted through ongoing face-to-face interactions between mentor and mentee, technology now allows for a long-distance mentoring relationship. Dow Chemical uses e-mail and video conferencing to facilitate long-distance mentoring between persons who are working in different countries. For a mentee whose second language is English, writing e-mail messages in English helps the individual become fluent in English, which is a requirement of all Dow Chemical employees regardless of location and country of origin.8
Employees on the (International) Move
Working abroad at one of the thousands of American or foreign multinational firms can be exciting and look good on your résumé. But is an international job assignment a step up the ladder to a more rewarding career path or a potential minefield of professional and family risk? The answer depends as much on an employee’s family situation as his or her ambition, as well as how well the company supports and handles a transfer to an international location.
International job experience is increasingly seen as an essential leadership competency; therefore, many companies have developed robust rotational programs designed to give individuals critical global experience. According to the BGRS 2016 Global Mobility Trends Survey, providing high levels of service to relocating employees and their families is a fundamental expectation.
Brookfield Global Relocation Services (BGRS) is a talent mobility and relocation services firm that manages more than 60,000 relocations in 140 countries each year for its corporate and government clients. With 15 offices around the world, the company’s staff (that speaks 40 languages) can tap into their network of 1,900 trusted suppliers to help employees and families acclimate to their new work and home environments.
Increasing numbers of recent college graduates and experienced professionals are offered opportunities for overseas work assignments ranging from a few days to 24 months or longer. But acclimating to a new country and culture, as well as a new work environment, can be daunting and involves some unique challenges.
Challenges face expatriates aside from the demands of work include:
- Choosing schools for children
- Securing housing
- Finding medical facilities
- Opening bank accounts
- Finding transportation and obtaining a driver’s license
- Completing government forms
- Locating food stores
- Learning about community and entertainment offerings
With 189,000 worldwide staff and partners, KPMG International is one of the world’s largest professional services and accounting firms, with a presence in 152 countries. Through programs like the KPMG Global Opportunities (GO) program, the professionals at KPMG can explore job rotation assignments, transfer to a new location, or change to a new job function or group. The company’s Career Mobility Connection tool allows employees to evaluate opportunities based on their interests and to seek guidance from a transition advisor on potential career opportunities.
KPMG has developed several programs and standards to guide employees and establish consistency, whether they work in the United States or abroad. One of the most important is the KPMG Code of Conduct, which defines the values and standards by which KPMG conducts business and is intended to help guide the actions and behaviours of its global workforce.
Every year, all KPMG employees and partners are required to affirm their agreement to comply with the Code of Conduct. In addition, all partners and employees are required to complete mandatory training that reinforces the principles of the Code and further builds understanding of the firm’s expectations.
- How is KPMG’s Global Code of Conduct intended to influence and guide the personal values and behaviours of its employees and partners?
- Why must the Code of Conduct be affirmed by employees and partners every year? Why does KPMG include their partners in this program?
- What are the top four or five job qualifications an employee should have to be considered for an overseas assignment?
Even with the advantages of on-the-job training, many firms recognize that it is often necessary to train employees away from the workplace. With off-the-job training, employees learn the job away from the job. There are numerous popular methods of off-the-job training. It frequently takes place in a classroom, where cases, role-play exercises, films, videos, lectures, and computer demonstrations are used to develop workplace skills.
Web-based technology is increasingly being used along with more traditional off-the-job training methods. E-learning and e-training involve online computer presentation of information for learning new job tasks. Union Pacific Railroad has tens of thousands of its employees widely dispersed across much of the United States, so it delivers training materials online to save time and travel costs. Technical and safety training at Union Pacific are made available as programmed instruction, an online, self-paced, and highly structured training method that presents trainees with concepts and problems using a modular format. Software provided can make sure that employees receive, undergo, and complete, as well as sign off on, various training modules.9
Web-based training can also be done using a simulation, for example, a scaled-down version of a manufacturing process or even a mock cockpit of a jet airplane. American Airlines uses a training simulator for pilots to practice hazardous flight maneuvers or learn the controls of a new aircraft in a safe, controlled environment with no passengers. The simulator allows for a more direct transfer of learning to the job.
- Describe several types of on-the-job training.
- What are the advantages of simulation training?
- How is technology impacting off-the-job training?
Sources: Corrine Purtill, “Expat Couples Do Best When They’ve Moved for the Woman’s Job,” Quartz at Work, December 6, 2017; https://work.qz.com/1134685/expat-couples-do-best-when-theyve-moved-for-the-womans-job/; Donald Murray, “The 7 Greatest Challenges of Moving Overseas and How to Resolve Them,” International Living, March 15, 2018, https://internationalliving.com/the-7-greatest-challenges-of-moving-overseas-and-how-to-resolve-them/; “KPMG’s Code of Conduct,” Accessed March 15, 2018, https://home.kpmg.com/us/en/home/about/kpmgs-code-of-conduct.html.