A checklist for employee training

checking "yes" on a surveyResearchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have created a checklist organizations can use when developing, implementing and evaluating training programs for their employees.

The checklist, which has been peer-reviewed and published in the International Journal of Training and Development, provides actionable guidance for practitioners at all stages of training program implementation.

Ashley Hughes, lead author of the paper, said she hopes the checklist will help ensure that the knowledge, skills and attitudes learned in training are transferred to the work environment and job performance.

Hughes, who is an assistant professor of biomedical and health information sciences in the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences, worked with her colleagues to develop the checklist by surveying existing scientific research on learning and organizational training. After analyzing the research, the researchers identified key factors associated with maximizing “training transfer,” or the translation of knowledge to skills for better performance.

“Training transfer is vital across all industries, but among health care organizations the stakes are arguably higher,” Hughes said. “Staff training — which includes continuous incorporation of new care guidelines, proficiency with new or updated equipment, and an understanding of evolving safety protocols — relates directly to patient care and health outcomes.”

The checklist is divided into three distinct sections that correlate to the times it should be used. For each of the items on the checklist, users are asked to answer questions with a “yes” or a “no.”

The “before” section is meant to be used to determine if the intended training program will meet the needs of the organization. Example questions include, “Has the facility identified which employees will attend the training?” and “Are there policies and procedures in place to support training?” Hughes said this section is designed to help align training with organizational objectives and ready the organization for training.

The “during” section addresses the content of the training. Hughes said this section should be completed during trial runs of the program’s implementation, in addition to during the actual training. Example questions include, “Are trainees provided opportunities to actively participate during training?” and “Was the training developed using a valid training strategy and design?”

The “after” section can be administered multiple times following implementation of training, in part to test for retention and inform the need for additional or ongoing training. Example items include, “Are managers provided with tools and advice to support the use of learned knowledge and skills on the job?” and “Does the evaluation reveal that the training should be adapted?”

Hughes said she hopes that for organizations and educators who use the checklist as a guide, it will “eliminate unnecessary training; enable more motivated, engaged and effective staff; and, perhaps, serve as a gateway for cultural change within an organization.”

Co-authors on the paper are Stephanie Zajac of the Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation and Education; Jacqueline Spencer of CSRA; and Eduardo Salas of Rice University.