To be successful, every organization must train its staff. Training can be a minimal program focused on onboarding workers and imparting the basic knowledge required to work. Or training can be a more in-depth program to add new enriching workforce skills or develop specific employees for future roles.
Regardless of focus or scale, it is critical to evaluate training effectiveness and ensure it delivers on its intended goals. In this blog, we will cover the following:
Appropriate training evaluation processes help organizations spot gaps in their L&D efforts and identify new learning opportunities that could produce higher-impact outcomes.
Training evaluation is a very similar concept, sometimes used interchangeably with training effectiveness. Although there is a significant crossover between the two, there is a distinction to be made between training effectiveness focusing on enhancing employee processes, and training evaluation that is focused on improving training processes.
However, this means training effectiveness must measure what employees learn and how they apply it in the workplace.
Knowledge for knowledge’s sake is wasted if employees do not effectively utilize it in their work. These two concepts combine to deliver a comprehensive view of training effectiveness:
While you can incorporate employee assessments into training courses and ask for feedback post-session to help you understand what each employee learned; it is typically more work to determine how this knowledge is utilized in the workplace.
Measuring “learning transfer” often requires using advanced learning metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) to track how effective an employee is at their role pre-and post-training.
Every part of a business needs to justify its inclusion and show a return on investment. Training is no exception.
Therefore, evaluating training effectiveness with relevant learning metrics is critical to maintaining successful employee development.
Accurately understanding the outcomes of an organization’s training efforts produces many benefits:
Metrics that effectively assess training programs provide the data needed to improve decision-making. Backed up by numbers, learning metrics help organizations make smart decisions and determine the impact each choice could have.
In addition, they remove personal bias, prevent decisions made on small-sample sizes or anecdotal evidence, and validate L&D investments.
With metrics providing the data to improve decision-making, organizations can:
Reports show that effective training and high-impact learning cultures produce a greater likelihood (up to 10x) of sustainable growth and profitability.
Training looks to improve employees, make them better at their job, and ultimately improve motivation and productivity. A better workforce generates more value, achieving more with less.
Organizations can develop more efficient programs with better results by measuring training effectiveness and improving L&D processes.
Findings from Bersin by Deloitte show high-performance learning organizations have 37% greater employee productivity.
Training also increases employee satisfaction which links back to productivity and can also:
High-impact employee development generally leads to staff members who are satisfied with their results and are able to handle more significant workloads while still delivering great work.
Research has helped demonstrate the link between successful training programs and greater employee satisfaction and engagement. Surveys show 92% of US employees believe effective training positively impacts their engagement in the workplace.
LinkedIn’s 2022 workplace learning report also found that learning opportunities were the number one driver for increasing employee engagement and creating outstanding workplace cultures.
L&D is also critical for boosting employee retention.
For example, a LinkedIn report found that 94% of employees would remain at a company longer if they invested in their development.
Retaining staff reduces the cost of recruitment and allows for the invaluable build-up of institutional knowledge, which can help operations run more smoothly.
Leadership sometimes incorrectly sees L&D as a cost center, only necessary to onboard staff and set compliance or safety procedures. They believe it is there to facilitate, not to enhance.
In reality, L&D can become a competitive advantage generating value across the entire organization. Convincing leadership of this fact is often the primary barrier to implementing successful training programs. 49% of L&D professionals stated that “getting managers to make learning a priority for their teams” was one of their top three challenges.
Measuring training effectiveness allows L&D staff to demonstrate their worth and point to measurable outcomes backed up by hard numbers in the form of learning metrics.
There has never been a better time for organizations to improve their training programs. With the shift to the digital economy, accelerated by the pandemic, a growing skills gap dramatically affects many businesses.
Research by McKinsey shows 87% of organizations expect to experience skills gaps in the coming years, with 43% saying they already have one. In addition, organizations are struggling to cover the lack of relevant digital skills through hiring. The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that 74% of hiring managers have a shortage of skilled candidates.
Organizations with effective training programs powered by learning metrics can navigate the looming skills gaps by developing the capabilities they need in-house.
Organizations looking to evaluate training effectiveness have multiple models to choose from.
Below is a list of well-known models and short descriptions highlighting key takeaways. In practice, businesses can often utilize more than one model or modify their chosen model to reflect their specific needs better.
The Kirkpatrick model is the most widely used tool for evaluating training effectiveness and often the first tool organizations investigate. Developed in the 1950s, the Kirkpatrick model consists of four levels:
Established in 1980, the Phillips ROI methodology looks to expand on the Kirkpatrick model. It loosely follows the four stages of the Kirkpatrick model with some essential alterations and an additional fifth step.
A multi-tiered method for evaluating training effectiveness, LTEM combines learning with the transfer of new skills into workplace processes. It consists of eight levels:
LTEM examines multiple factors that make up the whole learning experience.
SCM utilizes surveys to assess the successes and shortcomings of a training program. What factors allowed participants to succeed, and where did employees fall through the cracks, failing to acquire or apply new information? SCM can be applied to individual training modules or the program as a whole.
It consists of five steps:
The method aims to understand why a training program works or doesn’t based on feedback from a variety of people. It can help identify existing barriers to success and methods to improve moving forward.
Developed in the 1960s, CIPP contains four iterative areas and can be applied both before and after training. CIPP aims to link evaluation with decision-making and provide a basis for analysis while managing L&D processes.
Before training, it takes the form of:
Post-training takes the form of:
Measuring training effectiveness is a vital function of every L&D team.
It ensures training programs deliver valuable skills that enhance business operations and improve employee and management’s workplace experience. It also helps identify training gaps that could be improved moving forward.
Below are five steps to help you accurately assess the effectiveness of your training programs.
Training goals create purpose and targets for L&D initiatives as well as define the criteria by which to measure training effectiveness.
Examples could include:
Whatever your specific goal is, defining it early helps develop the specific learning metrics required to assess how effective a particular training program is. Training goals should be linked to broader business values and objectives.
As described above, there are multiple models to help evaluate training effectiveness, each with a different approach.
Utilizing one of these models offers a framework and methodology by which to assess training effectiveness.
Organizations should research the various models available and select the most appropriate for their operations.
Learning metrics can take several forms in order to measure both “learning” (what was learned) and “learning transfer” (how it was applied). Regardless of which model you utilize, you will need to develop meaningful learning metrics that reflect training effectiveness.
Some learning metrics are relatively easy to define (e.g., course completion rate, pass rate, training cost per employee, revenue increase, etc.), while others are more nuanced. These tend to be related to behavioral changes or linking improvements (which could result from many factors) directly to training programs.
To assess behavioral changes post-training, you need a baseline for comparison. This requires tracking KPIs throughout the employee lifecycle and measuring the impact of specific training programs.
Learn more about learning metrics in our blog “10 Valuable Training Metrics to Know”
The accuracy of your learning metrics and how well they reflect the actual effectiveness of a training program are determined by the quality of the data you collect. There are many methods you can utilize to collect training effectiveness data, including:
To build a clear picture of your training programs and their effectiveness, you will likely need to combine multiple sources of data at various stages.
Keep in mind that collecting participant feedback takes additional time out of each employee’s day, and there may be diminishing returns if you try collecting extensive amounts of data.
The final step is to analyze all the data collected and draw conclusions about its impact on the participants. This record lets you know what employees learned and how they apply this new information in their work. It also acts as a benchmark to compare to future training programs, develop new ideas, and improve existing skill gaps.
A common issue when analyzing data and deriving information on training effectiveness is finding a way to prove that performance increases are the result of the training.
Take, for example, an increase in revenue occurring after a new training program is completed. To assign credit to the training course and the new skills it generated, you need to determine a direct link between the two – causation, not just correlation.
However, with many factors combined to produce an organization’s overall performance, this is not always a simple task.
You need to track employee feedback post-training, through to the resulting behavioral changes, and how that relates to a surge in revenue. For example, did the training directly improve the product, how it was marketed, or the employees’ sales skills?
Training effectiveness and how L&D translates to employee performance can be complex concepts to nail down. However, Valamis is here to help.
With a single platform, you can measure, analyze, predict, and improve the effectiveness of your L&D programs and build a direct connection between learning activities and employee performance.
Schedule a personal demo and let us demonstrate how being your partner in learning can optimise employee performance and achieve business goals.