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Can You Measure Employee Development? 3 Ways to Show Training ROI



As the old saying goes, “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” This saying rings true when discussing training methodologies. Simply put, it's not enough to set goals of improvement. Instead, you need to leverage business data to back up your training programs.

Why measure training ROI in the first place? For starters, measuring development validates your efforts. When properly evaluated, your organization can see just how training impacts performance and profitability. Since training costs money and requires resources, measuring effectiveness allows you to justify costs and analyze where you can make changes. Finally, evaluating development efforts helps improve the overall design of these programs, —which, in turn, provides greater value and increased benefits.

Numerous key performance indicators (KPIs) are associated with employee development, many of which are industry-specific. For example, sales teams can look to numbers and quotas to gauge effectiveness. In highly regulated industries such as healthcare and finance, training completion rates coincide with safety and compliance. In quick-service restaurant (QSR), retail, and franchise companies, training manifests itself in the quality of service. Consider the following statement from a QSR manager about his team, after they implemented a new training program:

“Guest loyalty has definitely improved. I believe customers see the improvement in our overall team and that they choose our location because they feel the unanimity of our store. They see our focus is on them, and so they are more apt to choose us.”

No matter your industry, it’s entirely possible to link employee development and ROI. To help illustrate how to accurately gauge your training programs, we’ve outlined three ways that you can display ROI throughout your organization.


1. Ask for Feedback

Oftentimes, direct feedback from your employees is the best way to understand current performance and gauge the effectiveness of training programs. However, according to research, only 50 percent of organizations keep track of participants’ feedback on training programs. What’s more, only 30 percent use any other type of metric.

It’s up to management to devise tracking methodologies that organize employees’ feedback and make sense of their progress. Considering personal relevance is important as well. After all, not everyone’s behavior manifests in the same way. It’s also nearly impossible to simply apply a standard across your entire organization and expect your employees meet it. This is because everyone’s situation is different, with a multitude of individual factors at play. It is essential that after the training concludes, feedback is adaptable as different employees seek to apply it with your support.

Ultimately, feedback should be able to separate employee intention (what do I intend to do?) and perception (what do others see me doing?). It should help illustrate exactly where your organization is at now and what you need to do to improve your training efforts.

Maximize the impact of your learning and development initiatives with the help  of this guide.

2. Measure Expectations

To support learners, leaders must be clear on expectations. However, many organizations fall short of defining the actual behaviors required of the learners. Instead of outlining the path to success, some leaders emphasize the intended outcome (such as improved collaboration or communication). They stress the importance of performance change as opposed to behavior change—the latter of which may take longer but is much more effective long-term.

Why do many organization eschew behavior for results? Mostly because teaching behavior change is hard work. Management (training leaders) must model, coach, and require the desired behaviors from their employees (learners). If leaders are unclear on expectations in the first place, how are they supposed to demonstrate and coach others to follow suit?

There is no secret to linking behaviors and desired outcomes. Know that you can’t place people in a controlled environment to isolate the variables that impact performance and training. As soon as you try to create a formula for teaching behavior change, people will start to criticize your solutions. Instead of attempting to measure organizational expectations, it’s essential to measure them on an individual basis.


3. Ask the Right Questions

Measuring training results based on established expectations is key in determining success. To help gauge your training efforts, you must ask the right questions, such as:

  • Is your training impactful, well-received, and relevant?
  • Are the learners applying or putting into practice what they learned in training?
  • Are the behaviors taking root in the organization?
  • Are those behaviors contributing to an impact at the organization?

Eagle’s Flight has helped many clients communicate the impact and importance of training on a Learning Impact Scorecard. We have done this for outcomes such as safety, sales performance, engagement, retention, revenue, innovation, and product knowledge.

By validating the value of your training programs, you not only implement a culture of continuous learning, but you also maximize training ROI.

Download Guide: Closing the Gap: Maximizing the Impact of Learning and Development Initiatives

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Michael’s singular focus is rooted in staying connected to learners the moment they step out of the classroom and back into their busy jobs. As SVP of Learning Performance, Michael brings business savvy depth to ensuring learning is reinforced, applied and is optimally aligned to delivering on strategic objectives. His proven track record in creating measurement frameworks and reinforcement solutions that add value to the learner, leaders and executive sponsors is highly valued across the spectrum of our client engagements.

About Eagle's Flight

Founded in 1988, Eagle's Flight has earned its reputation as a global leader in the development and delivery of business-relevant, experiential learning programs that achieve specific training objectives and lasting behavior changes.

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