Training is an integral part of workforce development and creation of new competencies within the workforce to ensure that the organization keeps up with the changing needs of the times.
Training is related to performance in two ways. Effective training has a direct impact on the performance output and any gap in an individual’s performance can sometimes be filled with training. For employees, lack of training also causes a lack of self-satisfaction and productivity.
Training is seen as a major cost center in most organizations in India even though its necessity is widely accepted. This negative view can mostly be attributed because of the apparent lack of direct linkage between training and the bottom-line of the company.
In today’s world, where the HR department needs to justify its expenses, especially in the wake of recession and lay-offs, it is essential that the trainings rendered are of optimum efficiency in achieving the set target and also that it be done at the least possible cost. Hence it is important to understand whether the methods of training employed are yielding the desired results or alternatively if the same results can be attained in more cost effective ways.
One major factor influencing the training effectiveness is training motivation, as we have explained in the literature review below. But the attitude of employees towards formal training is another factor which will decide whether it is justified to spend so much money on formal training modules if the same end result can be obtained by informal on the job training if it is preferred by the employees. Hence we explore the links between these constructs.
Theoretical Review and Hypothesis:
Development activities like training are significantly affected by attitudes and perceptual variables (Noe and Wilk, 1993).Eagly & Chaiken (1998) defined “attitude” as the psychological tendency to evaluate an entity with a certain degree of favor or disfavor. These attitudes are good predictors of behavior (Ajzen, 1991).We can extend this line of reason to say that a person with a positive attitude to certain entity will show favorable behavioral response towards it and a person with a negative attitude to it will show an unfavorable behavioral response. Training attitude applies the definition of attitude to training. A person’s attitude towards training is a measure or reflection of his or her attitude towards the formal process of knowledge and skill acquisition. Thus we can say that training attitude is indirectly a measure of liking an individual has for the “formal” process of training as opposed to say learning something on-the-job informally. It logically follows that those who have a positive attitude towards training will be more likely to attend the training programs willingly and gain from it as compared to someone who has a negative attitude towards training which is to say, that training attitude determines the motivation with which a person attends training programs, especially in an organizational scenario where training programs are mandatory. Also this very attitude can be linked to how much learning happens in the training. The scale for measuring the training attitude construct was developed by Anupama Narayan and Debra Steele Johnson (2007) for their research.
This was a 20 item scale addressing participant’s evaluation of 2 issues:
- How relevant and useful they perceived training programs to be.
- How much they desired to practice acquired skills on job.
This scale with 7 point likert type response pattern had a high level of internal consistency (alpha =0.92) However some items were redundant and for the purpose of this research were omitted. The resulting 9 item scale was again tested for internal consistency and displayed a Cronbach’s Alpha= 0.91 which is fairly high. The response to the 7 point likert scale was interpreted as a summated score which indicated the degree of positive attitude towards training among the respondents.
Quinones (1997) aptly described motivation to be an individual’s choice to dedicate more energy to one set of behavior over others. In the training context, Blanchard & Thacker (2004) explain motivation as an inspiration which is directed by trainee’s personal needs and decision processes they use to satisfy those needs. Or, as Colquitt (2007) puts it , training motivation is the persistence and intensity of learning -directed behavior in the context of training. Training motivation is affected by a diverse set of internal and external factors as suggested by various research papers. Work environment, organizational climate, supervisory support etc are a few of the external factors researched upon whereas the internal factors hypothesized to affect training motivation include self efficacy, personal mental ability and personality (Colquitt et al, 2000).
One of the most popular theories to explain motivation is the expectancy theory of how people are motivated by the results of their behavior (Bandura, 1997). We can also view Vroom’s expectancy theory as a theoretical framework for examining training motivation. Vroom’s model suggests that expectation of an act being followed by a certain outcome often shapes the motivation for doing that act. To extend this to the context of training motivation, if a trainee expects that the effort he puts into attending training programs will yield valued outcomes to him then he will be motivated to attend the same. Hence this research attempts to understand the valence -instrumentality link associated with training. We measure what the trainee values and whether he perceives those things to be outcome of training programs. A 14 item scale, with 7 items each for valence and instrumentality of factors associated with training, was adapted from the research paper by Phyllis Tharenou (2001).The factors of valence included in the scale are Reaching career goals, Pay increase, Job security, Change to workplace, Promotion or advancement, Opportunities for different career paths, Supervisor praise. The responses for these questions were taken on a 7 point likert scale and scores were summated to arrive at the level of training motivation of the respondent. A higher score symbolizes that the respondent values the inherent factors highly and also perceives that training will help him achieve the same.
Training effectiveness is essentially a measure of how effective the training imparted was. Many researchers including Ford (1997), Noe (1986), and Tannenbaum (1992) have recognized training effectiveness as a crucial issue for organizations. Employee performance and productivity can be measurably improved if training’s are effective and organizations will be able to avoid wasteful spending on ineffective trainings. Most organizations would want to have a good return on their training investment. According to London (1989) and Noe (1999) training interventions in organizations are going to increase hence the training effectiveness is going to be an important feature in the organizations. Kirkpatrick’s (1976) four level approach is one of the most extensively used methods for evaluating training effectiveness (Alliger & Janak, 1989). This four level approach measures training effectiveness vis-à-vis the trainees reactions to a training program, the extent to which trainees can execute desired behaviors related to the training, the acquisition of skills and knowledge by the trainee and resulting change in the job behaviors of the trainee. It has been a common assumption among researchers that these 4 levels linked in a linear fashion hierarchically. Hamblin (1947) illustrated the cause and effect chain as training leading to reactions which in turn leads to learning and that leads to change in job behavior. But this empirical evidence for this proposed link has been inconclusive. This led Alliger & Janak (1989) to conduct a Meta analysis and conclude that the four factors are not necessarily linearly linked. There are several factors like training motivation attitude, context of training and other influences which attenuate the link between trainees’ reaction and other criterion measures. A four item shortened version of the Kirkpatrick scale was used for measuring the training effectiveness. The measured effectiveness was the perceived effectiveness of the last imparted training program. Sample items in the scale included questions like “Did I enjoy the course”. The response was obtained on a 7 point likert scale varying from strongly disagree to strongly agree and the summated score of each item response was used as the measure of the training effectiveness and higher the score higher was the perceived effectiveness of the training.
Training Attitude and Training Motivation:
Individual’s disposition or attitude towards formal training programs has been shown to have a direct influence on his training motivation (Ford & Noe, 1987). Training attitude also displays his motivation to learn (Tannenbaum & Yukl, 1992) and his motivation to attend training (Facteau et al, 1995) as distinct from training motivation. What the above mentioned research suggests is that there is a logical and empirical link between a person liking a training program and being motivated to attend the same. However the extant literature mentions this relationship in a very general and broad format. We would like to hypothesis a more specific relationship. Going back to our definition of training motivation , we have said that it is the perceived valence the trainee associates with certain outcomes and how instrumental he feels attending a training is in order to acquire them .We listed these outcomes as career development, superior praise, promotion or development, pay increase , job security etc. Research suggests that there is very strong link between training attitude and training motivation .Carlson et al.(2000) found a high correlation between training attitude scores and training motivation scores in their research.Now most employees may find that there is a perceived strong connection between attending trainings and achieving these outcomes and hence may attend trainings when they are mandatory rather than volunteer for it. But otherwise, based on his experience he might feel that training programs are a waste of time over all and he learns more on his job. Especially in the context of Indian manufacturing industry where trainings are mandatory, employees might not be predisposed to attending trainings, but will attend them anyways due to perceived benefits. Hence in this research we are testing whether having a positive attitude towards training increases the individuals training motivation and how much is it correlated.
- Training Attitude of an individual positively impacts his Training Motivation:
Training Motivation and Training Effectiveness:
Based on our understanding of motivation, an individual is more likely to expend more energy for a task he is motivated to do and hence is more probable to do that task more effectively than other tasks. Extending this logic forward if a person is motivated to attend training then he is more likely to enjoy the training, learn most from it and apply it on to his job. In other words the effectiveness of the training imparted will be high if the trainees entering the training program are highly motivated for the same. In the organizational context it is imperative that different individuals enter the training with different levels of motivation. These differences in the level of motivation may be an outcome of various factors like personal characteristics and work environments. After studying these effects, Salas et al.1(1992) hypothesized that individuals motivated to do well in training will be the ones who end up learning the content of the program better than their lesser motivated counterparts. Training effectiveness is measured in terms of 4 parameters derived from the Kirkpatrick’s model. These parameters are namely, Learning, Behavior, Reaction and Applications of skills. Several studies put forth empirical support indicating a link between trainee’s motivation and learning (Rails& Klien, 1991; Clark 1990; Hicks & Klimoski 1987; Baldwin et al., 1991).The attention levels and openness to new ideas is increased by pre-training motivation. Hence theoretically trainees who are more motivated should be more ready or primed to learn and apply their learning’s. Also a person motivated to attend the training will be more likely to enjoy it thus displaying a positive reaction. Whereas a person who is unmotivated to attend training will not learn much from the training even if he ends up enjoying the experience (Mathieu et al., 1992). Consequently we also hypothesize a direct relation between how much the trainee learns and how much he is motivated about the training to how much of the learned skills he will apply in his job. Thus training motivation can be hypothesized to bring about change in behavior of the trainee as well.
Based on the above reasoning we state out second hypothesis as,
- Training motivation positively impacts training effectiveness Training Attitude and Training Effectiveness.
Hicks and Klimoski (1987) attempted to study the effect of choice of attending the training program with effectiveness of the training program. They hypothesized that if trainee had a choice of attending a training program then he will be more satisfied by it than otherwise. Ryman and Biersner (1975) also studied the effect of choice on training outcome. They found that giving a choice to attend the training program resulted in lesser dropouts from the program and greater training success. In a slight variation of this experiment, Baldwin, Magjuka and Lober (1991) reported that when trainees received their top choice from the available training programs they reported higher pre training motivation and. They also learned more as compared to other trainees who did not get their top pick. Tannebaum et al. (1992) showed by way of their research that individuals who nominate themselves for training actually attach a greater instrumentality to the program and report higher training motivation than others. This in turn leads to greater training effectiveness. The same was researched upon and confirmed by Gormley, Collins et al. (2009) on their study on Medical students undergoing E-learning programs.
In our research we would like to extend the above findings to the context of training attitude. Training attitude can be seen as the pre disposition of the individual towards attending training. If the individual has a positive attitude towards training then he will choose to attend the same whereas if he has a negative attitude towards training he will not attend it or attend it grudgingly if forced to the same. Hence incorporating Tannenbaum’s findings, we can say that people who attend training against their choice will not undergo an optimally effective training. Hence we hypothesize that only people who choose to attend the training by way of their positive attitude towards it will be more motivated about the training and hence consequently the training imparted to them will be effective. No previous research has aimed to study this mediating effect of training motivation on the relationship between Training attitude and training effectiveness and this is the gap we propose to fill by means of our research. We hypothesize that Training effectiveness is impacted by Training Attitude of the individual via the mediating variable of training motivation.
- Training attitude positively affects training effectiveness.
- Training Motivation acts as the mediating variable on the relationship between Training Attitude and Training Effectiveness.
Moderating Effect of Prior Work Experience:
Goldstein (2002) stated in his research that training transfer happens more effectively if tasks in the training environment are congruent with those in the actual work environment. Typically the young Indian professional fresh out of college will prefer the formal training programs as he is not exposed to any other way of learning. However as we have talked about training attitude it is important to study the effect of previous trainings on the individuals attitude. Employees who have undergone much training and have worked for enough years in the organization may have seen other methods of learning their job or skill apart from formal training programs to form different attitudes about training than those who have very little work experience.
Learning On -the-job takes place within the workplace while the employee is doing actual work in the actual work environment under normal working conditions. This is important because it ensures that skills taught in such informal training can be readily transferred to the job (Kleiner & Read, 1996). Work based learning focuses on reviewing and learning from experience and is cantered on learning from action rather than simply developing competencies (Dymock & Gerber, 2002). Since the employee is trained in normal working condition, there is a high sense of relevance and validity to the employee (Clifford & Thorpe, 2007) and is a tool to increase the productivity (Jain, 1999). Learning on the job happens on an individual level and the greatest advantage of this is that it enables each participant to determine the speed with which learning can proceed, at the same time providing a high level of feedback and trainee involvement (Kleiner & Read, 1996). Other advantages are that the employee is being productive during training, and thus the associated costs may be less (Kleiner & Read, 1996); this training may be given to more people than it is possible at a training institution (Jain,1999).
Thus we can see that on the job learning may be perceived to be more effective than formal trainings by employees with greater years of work experience behind them. This could also possibly affect their attitude towards formal training programs and its utility. Hence the effect of training attitude on training effectiveness may be moderated by the prior work experience of the individual. We hypothesize that more is the prior work experience of an individual the more likely he has understood how to perform on his job and how to acquire skills on the job and hence the more it is likely that he will not have a favourable attitude towards formal training programs. Thereby the effectiveness of training programs on such individuals will be subdued. Thus, in this research we will aim to study the moderating effect of Prior work experience on the relationship between Training Attitude and Training Effectiveness.
- The prior work experience of individual has a negative moderating effect on the relationship between Training Attitude and Training Effectiveness.
We would also like to study whether the Mediating Effect of Training Motivation on the relationship between Training attitude and Training effectiveness is valid for different groups of people with varied work experience. For this purpose we propose to study the said relationship by dividing the data set into groups of people with differing work experience. According to our theoretical study we expect to observe a more significant mediated relationship between training attitude and effectiveness for people with lower work experience than those with higher work experience.
- For people with lower work experience the relationship between training attitude and training effectiveness mediated by training motivation is more significant.
Around 200 participants from various manufacturing organizations were contacted in person and via e-mail and the questionnaire was administered. Out of the 200 people contacted 122 (61%) people chose to participate. Most of the participants were chosen from the technical background who have undergone some sort of training at their work place. To maintain anonymity the questionnaire did not contain any identifiers. The researchers themselves administered the questionnaire and they themselves collected the responses.
All the scale used to measure the various constructs were measured using a 7 point Likert scale ranging from 1(Very Strongly Disagree, Very Strongly Unlikely) to 7(Very Strongly Agree, Very Strongly Likely).
Training attitude was measured using a 9 item scale developed by Anupama Narayanan and Debra Steele-Johnson (2007). A sample item is “I enjoy participating in training programs offered at work”.
Training motivation was measured using a 14 item scale developed by Phyllis Tharenou (2001) which was adopted from Noe and Wilk (1993) 17 item scale. This scale was based on the valence instrumentality expectancy theory and had 7 items each for valence and instrumentality. A sample item for instrumentality is “How likely you will obtain a pay increase from KSA from T&D”. A sample item for valence is “How important is obtaining pay increase to you”.
The training effectiveness was measured through a 4 item scale. This scale was a shortened version of the Kirkpatrick’s scale and was developed by Alan Chapman. The training effectiveness was measured on different parameters namely reaction, learning, behavior and productivity.
Prior Work experience:
The prior work experience was measured using a single question to the participants asking them of the number of years of prior years of work experience.
The study was intended to find the mediation effect of training motivation between training attitude and training effectiveness. The procedure followed to study the mediation effect was adopted from the study by Baron and Kenny (1986). Further the researchers also studied the moderation effect of years of prior work experience on the direct relation between training attitude and training effectiveness. This was done through a 2 model approach using the standardized multiplied values for training attitude and years of prior work experience. All the analysis was done using SPSS software. Further the entire sample of respondents was divided into 2 classes based on the work experience, one having work experience more than the median and one having less than the median. The median value was ignored and the mediation analysis was carried out using the Baron and Kenny model (1986).
The means, standard deviations and correlations .All the variables were found to be significantly correlated with each another. It can be easily seen from the table 1 that the correlation among all the variables is very high. To test the internal consistency of the scales measuring the constructs, the Cronbach’s Alpha Coefficient was calculated and it was found that all the scales were reliable as the Cronbach’s Coefficient was greater than 0.7. The results of the measures of internal consistency. Again it can be seen that the Cronbach’s Alpha Coefficient is very high indicating that the internal consistency of the scales is very high.
Mean, Standard Deviation and Correlations:
Measures of internal consistency Cronbach’s Alpha Coefficient:
In this research we have primarily hypothesized the relationship between training attitude and training effectiveness with training motivation as the mediating variable. Apart from the mediation effect, the moderation effect of number of years of prior work experience on the direct effect of training attitude on training effectiveness has been studied.
The results of the mediation effect of training motivation on the relationship between training attitude and training effectiveness. The mediation effect was studied using the 4 step Baron and Kenny model of regression analysis. In the first step, the independent variable training attitude was shown to affect the outcome variable i.e. training effectiveness significantly. In the next step, the independent variable was shown to affect the mediator variable i.e. training motivation significantly. In the third step, the mediator variable was shown to have a significant effect on the dependent variable. These steps showed that the relation between training attitude and training effectiveness was mediated by training motivation. In the 4th step, the mediation effect was calculated through a regression analysis in which the mediator and the independent variable were the predictors and the criterion variable was the dependent variable.
Regression results to study mediation effect:
The mediation is significant and the mediation effect was calculated to be 0.923 standard deviations. Also in the fourth step, since the effect of training attitude on training effectiveness becomes insignificant we can safely infer that full mediation is present.
The step I shows the regression results when training effectiveness was taken as the criterion variable and the training attitude was taken as the independent variable. From this step we saw that training attitude was significantly related to the training effectiveness. Here the value of R2 was found to be 0.796 with F = 468.143 at p < 0.05. From this regression analysis it can be concluded that there is an effect that can be mediated.
The step II shows the regression results when training motivation was taken as the dependent variable with training attitude as the predictor variable. In this step it was seen that training attitude was significantly related to training effectiveness. The R2 value was found to be 0.883 with F = 904.66 at p < 0.05. This step showed that the independent variable is correlated with the mediator variable.
The step III shows the regression results when training effectiveness was taken as the dependent variable with training motivation being the predictor variable. In this step it was found that the training motivation is significantly related to training effectiveness. The R2 value was found to be 0.909 at p < 0.05. This step showed that the mediator variable significantly affected the criterion variable.
The step IV shows the regression results when training effectiveness was taken as the criterion variable with both training motivation and training attitude as the predictor variables. From this step we could conclude that training motivation was significantly related to training effectiveness and also we see that training attitude loses the significance of its effect that it had on training effectiveness in step I. The R2 value was found to be 0.909 at p < 0.05.
The above 4 steps show that the mediation effect of training motivation between training attitude and training effectiveness is a full mediation effect as the independent, variable training attitude, becomes insignificantly related to the criterion variable (Baron and Kenny, 1986).
The steps I, II and III are used to test the first 3 hypothesis. In step I it was shown that training attitude was significantly related to training effectiveness hence H3 is accepted. Similarly in the step II it was shown that training attitude was significantly related to training motivation and hence H1 is accepted. In the third step, it was found that training motivation was significantly related to training effectiveness and hence H2 is accepted.
Training attitude was significantly related to training effectiveness in the first step and to training motivation in the second step but it was non-significantly related to training effectiveness in the fourth step. From this we could infer that training motivation fully mediates the relation between training attitude and training effectiveness. Thus H4 is supported. The Sobel’s test was used to just verify the mediation effect. The test showed that the mediation effect is statistically significant (Mediation effect = 0.923; Z-score = 8.68; p < 0.05). Thus it was concluded that training attitude is positively related to training effectiveness fully mediated by training motivation.
In addition to the above mediation analysis, we also tried to understand the role of work experience on the mediation analysis. Hence 2 more mediation analysis were carried out in which the entire data set was broken down in 2 sets, one with respondents having 2 or more years of work experience, second with respondents having less than 2 years of work experience. This was so done because the median work experience of the sample studied was 2 yrs. Impact of years of work experience on the mediating role of training motivation on training effectiveness was studied.
First we take the case of respondents having less than 2 years of work experience. The same steps as stated above according to the Baron and Kenny Model were repeated and the results.
Regression results to study mediation effect on respondents with work experience of less than 2 years:
Again as we can see that training motivation fully mediates the relation between the training attitude and training effectiveness. In the first step we used training effectiveness as the criterion variable with training attitude as the predictor variable. The relation was found to be significant and positively related with R2 = 0.468; p < 0.05.
In the next step, training motivation taken as the criterion variable and training attitude was taken as the independent variable. This relation was again found significant and positively related with R2 = 0.639; p < 0.05. This step showed that training attitude and training motivation are positively related (Standardized β = 0.799).
In the third step, training motivation was now taken as the predictor variable and training effectiveness was taken as the dependent variable. It was found that this relation was significant with R2 = 0.660; p < 0.05. This step established that training motivation and training effectiveness are positively related.
In the last step, both training attitude and training motivation were taken as the predictor variables and training effectiveness was taken as the dependent variable. In this step, the relation between training attitude on training effectiveness became insignificant hence it was proved that training motivation fully mediates the relation between training attitude and training effectiveness. The mediated effect was found to be 0.592 and the overall mediation was found to be significant using the Sobel’s test. Using the Sobel’s Test the Z score was found to be 4.7498. Thus showing that the mediation effect of training motivation on the relation between training attitude and training effectiveness is significant.
Another mediation analysis was done to test the mediation effect of training motivation on the relation between training attitude and training effectiveness for respondents having more than 2 years of work experience. This was again a 4 step analysis as per the Baron and Kenny model and the results.
As we can see in the table 5, in the first step it was found that training attitude significantly affect training effectiveness. In the second step it was found that training attitude significantly affects training motivation. In the third step, it was found that training motivation significantly affects training effectiveness. And in the fourth it was found that training motivation significantly affects effectiveness but impact of training attitude on effectiveness becomes insignificant. This showed that training motivation mediates the relation between attitude and effectiveness.
Regression results to study mediation effect on respondents with work experience of more than 2 years:
From the fourth step we can see that training motivation mediates the relation between training attitude and training effectiveness fully. The overall significance of the mediation was checked using the Sobel’s test.