The Impact of Demographic and Situational Factors on Training Transfer in a Health Care Setting

By Cowman, Mary C.; McCarthy, Alma M. | Irish Journal of Management, January 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

The Impact of Demographic and Situational Factors on Training Transfer in a Health Care Setting


Cowman, Mary C., McCarthy, Alma M., Irish Journal of Management


INTRODUCTION

There are major forces within the health care industry which require organisations to seek innovative ways to deliver health care more efficiently and effectively. Sambrook and Stewart (2007) state that UK health policies and practices are being developed to address the challenges of increased demand and pressurised supply created by finite resources, emerging technologies and ageing populations. In the Irish context, health care organisations are facing challenges and burdens as a consequence of the recent difficult economic climate including fewer staff, reduced budgets, increased workload and rationalisation of services (Curtis, 2010). The Future Health: A Strategic Framework for Reform of the Health Service 2012-2015 report detailed the actions to deliver 'the most fundamental reform of our health services in the history of the State' in Ireland (Department of Health, 2012: i). The report refers to the human resource changes required to effect the reforms including 'the right mix of staff, training and up-skilling the workforce, and providing for professional and career development' (p. 47). Managing the professional and clinical workforce within this challenging climate requires effective deployment of appropriately skilled personnel (Conway et al., 2006). The challenging environment has implications for human resource development (HRD) and for workforce planning in the health care sector.

Bartlett (2007) argues that HRD issues associated with the changes within the health sector are often overlooked and Sambrook and Stewart (2007) argue that there is a dearth of theoretical or empirical material concerning learning and development in the health care sector. While a range of training and development programmes are delivered with the objective of enhancing employee skill and performance, ensuring that learning acquired on training programmes is subsequently transferred and utilised in the workplace remains of critical importance for HRD researchers and practitioners (Burke and Hutchins, 2008). Nonetheless, where training success is defined as contributing to enhanced individual and organisational performance, some studies have reported that typical organisational training programmes are only achieving about a 10% success rate (Brinkerhoff, 2005; Saks and Belcourt, 2006). According to Saks and Belcourt (2006: 629), 'transfer is the primary leverage point by which training influences organisational-level outcomes and results'. Furthermore, Hutchins (2009) states that a review of evaluation benchmarking data indicated that organisations reported trainees applied less than 40% of knowledge and skills obtained from training when measured 90 days post-training. Wexley and Latham (2002), cited in Valeda et al. (2007), found that immediately post-training, approximately 40% of training is transferred, falling to 25% at six months and 15% at 12 months post-training. These figures suggest that the time and money invested in the training intervention may never be fully realised. Consequently, an understanding of the factors affecting training transfer to the workplace is necessary, if the effectiveness of training and development programmes is to be increased. Clarke (2002, 2007) argues that very little empirical research on training transfer has been conducted in human service organisations. Furthermore, according to Conway et al. (2006), Keogan (2006) and Clarke (2002), there is a lack of in-depth evaluation studies on factors affecting training effectiveness and the transfer of training in the health care sector in particular.

The current study sought to address the gaps identified in the literature by exploring training transfer over time utilising a training intervention in a health care context. The training intervention under investigation is a training programme to equip nursing and care staff with the skills for enhancing residents' physical activities within long-stay facilities for older adults. …

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