Page 1

Linking Prior Learning and Future Behaviours One of discussions concerning workplace training on a drug and alcohol policy and testing program centres on evaluating the link between learning from the past and future behaviours. How does management know the training delivered many weeks ago is creating a culture of zero tolerance for substance use in the workplace? How does leadership know that employees are learning and retaining information on the drug and alcohol testing program and behaving in an optimal manner? Connecting the investment of resources in training and training activities to business outcomes is important because the linkages or lack of linkages tell management whether it should continue the training in its current form or restructure it to achieve greater effectivess. Collect and Evaluate The concept of linking training and outcomes is not new. In 2000, authors Chris Doucouliagos and Sgro Pasquale discussed this very issue in their paper “Enterprise Return on a Training Investment”. The research presented numerous case studies of Australian businesses investing in workforce training to determine the best approaches for evaluating training programs. There were four steps recommended for evaluating program effectiveness, and today’s businesses can still use it as a guide for developing a strategy to measure and evaluate drug and alcohol program training in particular.1 1. Determine the data necessary to evaluate training programs and techniques for performing evaluations 2. Collect the data 3. Quantify the net gains resulting from training, including the financial costs and benefits 4. Develop a simple process for training evaluation, the simplest being comparing pre- and post-training data and developing a cost-benefit ratio or return on investment Businesses can consider different levels of evaluation criteria to measure different impacts and outcomes. Applying D. L. Kirkpatrick’s model to drug and alcohol training WA programs would mean evaluating:2    

Worker perceptions of the training Improvement in knowledge of the policy, testing program, and risks of substance use Changes in behaviours Business outcomes and return on investment

Pre- and post-training data can be as simple or as complex as the business desires. Some companies will hire professional services to collect and evaluate data, reporting results to management. However, managers can also develop tools like employee surveys administered before and after training to measure raised

awareness and to test knowledge. Business outcomes include metrics like reduced days of absenteeism, fewer sick days, fewer injuries, and so on. These outcomes have a direct financial impact on the business. On the Right Path? Setting goals is critical because it also determines training effectiveness. Goals need to be specific, measurable, realistic, and relevant to the workplace. Managers will also want to set a timeframe. For example, if there were 25 positive tests for drugs or alcohol last year, what is a reasonable goal for improvement in the current year? Every manager hopes no one is using substances in the workplace. However, it is unlikely, which is precisely why random drug testing program is so important. An evaluation of the data collected can lead to none, one, or more than one change in the drug and alcohol training program. If employees learned and retained the information, and the health and safety of the workplace is improved, the current training program will continue. However, it might be necessary to improve the program by adding additional elements or changing the presentation of the program. If could be that more frequent training is needed or a new training system. Without measurement and evaluation, there is no way to know what changes to make. The crucial point is that linking prior learning and business outcomes is important. Companies have limited resources and need to ensure that investments in training programs are productive. The only way to make that determination is through a system of measurement and evaluation. Mediscreen can become an important partner in the training effort by providing quality health screening services and workplace health and wellness assessments, providing key data for evaluation. This article has been taken from:

Linking prior learning and future behaviours  
Linking prior learning and future behaviours  

Setting goals is critical because it also determines training effectiveness. Goals need to be specific, measurable, realistic, and relevant...