There’s always one crucial, lingering question that plagues leadership after any training program has been launched: Was it effective?
Organizations spend countless dollars and hours developing and implementing training programs aimed at improving the bottom line but often drop the ball when it comes to precisely evaluating the ROI. So how do you know if it’s working?
Your team drives the performance that can sharpen or dull your company’s competitive edge, so how can you be sure that the training you provide them with is doing it’s job? How do you know if it’s truly effective?
You have to have a well thought out evaluation strategy.
One of the most popular evaluation strategies is to send a follow up survey to glean insights from the participants themselves. But while surveys can be a piece of the puzzle, they’re not necessarily the most reliable data points. Sure, if employees enjoyed it, they’re more likely to have been engaged and have a higher retention level, but their opinions do not directly equate the program’s efficacy. Surveys alone are not enough.
Outcomes must be measured systematically and quantitatively. Clarity around concrete costs and measurable results is more important than popularity.
The simple and standard equation to calculating training program ROI is: ROI = Benefits – Costs. The first step is to establish the true cost of the training program, which includes costs that are often overlooked:
- Cost to develop, including salaries and benefits of training personnel, equipment, etc.
- Cost to implement, including materials, technology, travel, facilities, refreshments, marketing materials, specialists salaries and benefits, etc.
- Cost of lost productivity during the training, including the time away from work while employees are being paid yet not performing.
- Cost of lost productivity after training, including the time needed to fully implement and adapt to the new skills and information.
- Cost of implementing new culture and initiative after the training, including both the tangible and intangible things put into place to encourage and foster the new behavior.
Once these costs have been compiled, the next step is to assess the results. This will include assessing significant changes to cognitive outcomes, or how much information was learned as evidence by improvement in work, improvement in the quantity and quality of production and improvement in motivation and positive attitude.
To evaluate this effectively, it’s worth considering following Donald Kirkpatrick’s 4-level model of evaluation. In doing so, you measure the four important outcomes: the reaction of participants, the learning of skills, knowledge or attitude, the behavior (or how participants apply the knowledge), and the result, which would be tailored to your organization specifically (i.e. increase sales, faster production, fewer mistakes, etc.) Once this data is compiled, you’ll complete the formula to get the ROI.
Using a well thought out evaluation strategy like this will help you see what adjustments or improvements could be made to your training program and yield far better results. It will give you the valuable data you need to know whether or not your investment in it was a sound one.
Opinion or assumptions cannot be relied upon when you consider the costs associated with developing and implementing any type of training initiative. The stakes are simply too high. Having real data allows you to convert the benefits into hard dollar values and clearly see what worth the training program has to the organization.
Interested in learning more about how to create an evaluation strategy for your organization? We can help. Contact us today!