3 Questions Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2010

Paul R. Prabhaker is a teacher, scholar and consultant in the area of technology-enabled marketing strategy. He has published more than 50 articles on the topic and has presented his research at conferences in the United States, Europe and Asia. Prabhaker is the associate dean of Northern Illinois University’s College of Business. His Ph.D. is in business administration.

Q. How can companies determine what training to provide employees?

What they need to do is take an inventory of all the training that they’re doing now or what they’ve been doing in the recent past, and they have to match it to their core business to see which ones are more directly relevant and which ones are more long term. There is certain training for which you can actually measure the outcome, the immediate returns, like increased sales or increased return on investment or increased profitability. There are certain other kinds of training that are done more for employee development and long-term benefits. When we’re going through a crisis like this, training that is longer term usually should be put on the shelf for the time being.

Q. How can companies cost-effectively train employees?

Training, like any other part of an organization, has a fixed cost attached to it and it has some variable cost attached to it. By fixed costs, I mean you have to have fixed assets, whether it’s human beings or skill sets, infrastructure, buildings, technology, etc. When economic conditions are difficult, it makes it more of a challenge to substantiate allocating those kinds of fixed expenses to training. You have to take training as a business function and take away the fixed expenses.

Q. How can you monitor training?

The first part, without question, has to be are the training dollars some how trickling, finding their way, down to the bottom line of the company in some fashion. Every organization that does training should have mapped out the trickle-down map where they can link the training dollars to the bottom line. The second measure that is probably more important, is the emotional welfare, the community spirit, [that] the training dollar actually ends up creating.