Motivation Trumps Training to Improve Employee Performance

New research backs importance of employee engagement

February 28, 2013, NAPERVILLE, IL  – Just in time for Employee Appreciation Day, March 1, a new study released today by the business thought leadership organization, The Forum: Business Results Through People, questions the effectiveness of employee training programs as a means to improve job performance. Instead, highly motivated and engaged workers are more likely to contribute the most to their organizations.

The study, “Training Public Sector Employees: Which Employees Gain the Most?” examines an employee training program and trainees’ attitudes at a Midwestern state career development / job search agency. Its authors, Dr. Frank Mulhern and Jenna Massey of Northwestern University, surveyed more than 500 state employees to evaluate whether they believed the training – in more than 20 specific job functions - improved their performance, and for which employees the training was most, and least effective.

“A key finding is that the training worked best for employees who seem to work the hardest, and are most motivated and satisfied. Training does not work for employees who are not working hard, motivated or satisfied. An organization can’t train poor performers to be better if they are not engaged in the workplace,” the study notes.

The study concludes that training programs may be valuable for specific jobs tasks, but are “limited in their ability to influence intangibles such as motivation,” pointing out that an organization’s focus on motivating and rewarding employees can be a far more valuable investment. 

CLICK HERE to read the entire research summary. 

About The Forum
The Forum: Business Results Through People, affiliated with Northwestern University, is an organization for thought leadership advocating that the most effective way business leaders create and sustain organizational values is through partnership with people.

Press Contacts:
Susan Peterson (630) 369-7780

Sue Voyles (734) 667-2005