We know it’s not fashionable to talk about ‘problems’ or ‘challenges’, but if L&D is really going to succeed at effective and intelligent learning measurement then we need to get to grips with these problems and find practical ways forward.
Why Measure Training Effectiveness?
Statistics prove that companies across the globe invest heavily in employee training and development. According to Training Industry magazine, employee training and education spends are growing incrementally by 14% every year. In addition to enhancing knowledge and skills, measuring training effectiveness has proven to be an important tool to boost employee engagement and retention. Results and measurements of past training also act as critical indicators while planning future workshops.
Organisations should ensure that employees can demonstrate a positive impact of training through improved productivity and overall skill development. With the growing focus on continual learning and development, businesses are keen on identifying reliable metrics and methods to measure the effectiveness and the ROI (return of investment) of such employee training initiatives. After all, you would not want to deliver training that does not provide expected results.
When you plan training and development for your organisation, you expect to gain improved skills and productivity, greater retention rates, and an improved brand. After you deliver any type of corporate training, you must ask these questions:
- How effective was the training in helping learners gain relevant knowledge and skills?
- Were the learners able to apply what they learned to improve their performance at work?
- What other benefits did the training programme achieve?
The answers to these questions help you determine whether the training was worth your organisation’s investment and answering these questions requires measuring the outcomes.
Evaluating Training Effectiveness
Post-training quizzes, one-to-one discussions, employee surveys, participant case studies, and official certification exams are some ways to measure training effectiveness. The more data you collect on measurable outcomes, the easier it will be to quantify your company’s return on investment. Before training begins, it is helpful to plan what factors you will be measuring and how you will collect this data. Fortunately, some proven methodologies for measuring training effectiveness already exist.
The Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model
During the 1950s, the University of Wisconsin Professor Donald Kirkpatrick developed the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model for evaluating training. With a simple, 4-level approach, this is one of the most successful models that help you measure the effectiveness of customised corporate training programmes. Here are the four levels of measurement and the key indicators to look for at each level.
Level 1 – Reaction.
This level measures how learners have reacted to the training, the relevance and usefulness of the training. Use surveys, questionnaires or talk to learners before and after the course to collect their feedback on the learning experience.
Topics to cover during your discussion:
- Was the course content relevant and easy to follow?
- Ask questions about the learnings and key takeaways.
- Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the program.
- Understand if the training was able to accommodate the learner’s pace and learning style.
At the end of Level 1, you should have a good understanding of how well the training was received and determine any gaps in the training content.
Level 2 – Learning
Measure the knowledge and skills gained by learners as a result of the training. To measure this level, you can use a combination of metrics such as:
- Test scores before, during and after the training
- Evaluation of applied learning projects
- Influence on performance key performance indicators KPIs
- Course completion and certification
- Supervisor report and feedback
At this stage of evaluation, you will be able to determine if the training is meeting its set objectives, what the specific skills are that can be developed with this training, and the scope for improvements in content and method of delivery.
Level 3 – Behaviour
Understand how the training has impacted the learner’s performance and attitude at work. Evaluate how the training has influenced the learner’s performance and delivery at work by using a combination of these methods:
- Self-assessment questionnaires
- Informal feedback from peers and managers
- Focus groups
- On-the-job observation
- Actual job (KPIs)
- Customer surveys, comments, or complaints
Topics to cover in your assessment include:
- How has learning been implemented at work?
- Are the learners confident to share their new skills and knowledge with their peers?
Level 4 – Results
Measure the tangible results of the training such as reduced cost, improved quality, faster project completion, increased productivity, employee retention, better marketing leads, increased sales, and higher morale. Evidence of learning is also obtained when measuring knowledge before training and comparing after training. Key metrics to measure are:
- Improved business results
- Increased productivity and quality of work
- Employee retention
- Higher morale
- Customer satisfaction index
- How much measurement makes sense?
Implementing all levels of the Kirkpatrick model can be an expensive and time-consuming process. You don’t have to measure everything. Measure only what it takes to substantiate a confident decision about the value returned on the training.
- Level 1 (Reaction) for all programmes
- Level 2 (Learning) for “hard-skills” programmes
- Level 3 (Behaviour) for strategic programmes
- Level 4 (Results) for programmes costing over £40K
Training is all about improving individual and group performances and in turn influencing the overall performance of your business. It is important to evaluate the effectiveness of the training and ensure that the original learning goals were achieved.
Also many benefits of training are not measurable. Factors like job satisfaction, the enjoyment of learning, and helping employees understand that they are valued assets worthy of development may seem intangible—and can be very powerful.
Finally, measuring training isn’t helpful unless you utilise what you have learned to improve the training. However, remember that training cannot be a one-time event; it’s important to define and support continuous learning paths.
If you need to know more about how Evolution Culture can help you develop learning programmes for your employees, please contact us. We also offer a portfolio of courses providing you with the necessary skills to develop and deliver effective learning programmes.
28 October 2019