3 Corporate Training Lessons Learned From "Office Space"

The movie “Office Space” follows an unmotivated IT employee named Peter Gibbons and his friends, as they try to survive Initech, a 1990s software company. Faced with an unreasonable boss, a depressing work environment, and a general lack of motivation, Peter tries to pull off a scheme that would allow him to quit working, forever.

Although Office Space is clearly a work of fiction, it sends a fair warning about how not to run a company, especially with regards to corporate training. Initech’s employees are disengaged, unmotivated, bored and restless-not exactly characteristics that are sought after. The way Initech’s employees feel about their work is the same way many employees feel about their training process. So how do you avoid the same pitfalls that Initech faced?

Here are three lessons that Initech never learned, but you still can:

 1. Focus on Employee Engagement 

Training Lessons
Source: quickmeme.com

Training isn’t going to work unless employees are paying attention and actually absorbing the information they need to know. In many cases, it’s not that employees don’t want to put in the effort to learn, it’s that the training is delivered in such a way that employees just can’t bring themselves to engage with it. Day long training sessions are overwhelming, long, and result in an information overload. Using gamification techniques, like competition, storylines and achievements, gives training the spice and excitement it needs to really make employees care.

2. Give Relevant Feedback

It’s happened to everyone: you reach the end of an online training module, complete the test and…you have to do the Whole. Thing. Again. Training programs that just say you’ve failed a test, and don’t tell you where you need to improve, are a lot like the boss in the clip you just watched: they don’t listen, and reinforce things that you already know, instead of focusing on your weak areas. Delivering training that detects where each employee goes wrong, and personalizes training to fit each employee’s needs, is the most effective way to see performance improvements.

3. Address Employee Concerns…Before it’s too Late

Note: only watch up until 0:45

The best way to find out if training is working, is to ask the employees themselves. Do they enjoy it? Is it effective? Is there anything that they would change? Disregarding employee feedback only leads to fed up employees…and although they may not threaten to “set the building on fire” as Milton did in the clip above, ignoring employee concerns about training can have equally damaging consequences. Shrink, lost sales and accidents are all the result of ineffective training, so hearing what your employees have to say about your training process is an invaluable step you can take.

Initech may be a caricature of a company, but there is truth in humour. Employee disengagement, a lack of relevant feedback, and ignoring employee concerns were Initech’s downfall, and they could be the downfall of your training program. Gamifying training, personalization and addressing employee concerns are all ways you can improve your training, and avoid the consequences that Initech faced: an unmotivated workforce.

Written by Emily Kroboth

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