Is Your L&D Training Reaping the ROI You Need?

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Simple steps to measure the success of your learning effort.

We’ve all been there—days spent away from our jobs completing required training programs that ultimately left us disappointed, confused, marginalized, and with no new learning assets.

Certainly, employee development plays a pivotal role in every successful enterprise today. But the most successful Learning and Development (L&D) teams also understand how to measure the success of each training course and react accordingly.

Here are three simple tools to access training course ROI and tips to make improvements when necessary:

1. Determine if training is the best solution.

It is possible to improve operational performance with an action that does not involve employee training through process updating, implementing new technology, bolstering employee motivation, or eliminating outdated mandates.

When organizations are unsure of the root cause of an operational issue, assigning employee training can quickly produce dramatic insight and measurable data, leading to enhanced performance, improved production, and even internal cost savings.

Traditional training models address performance issues only when there is a lack of knowledge and skills. A training needs analysis (TNA) will identify where employee training can make a meaningful contribution toward improving performance.

The analysis also can reveal other variables that cause employees not to perform at the optimum levels, such as organizational culture, personal problems, job satisfaction, or financial compensation.

It is essential to determine reasons for the poor performance; this valuable exercise is a systematic, methodical evaluation that leads to an actionable strategy to yield improved employee performance outcomes.

TAKEAWAY: The best training strategy in the world can’t fix operational issues.

The real cause typically reveals itself quickly when you go directly to the source.

Shadowing employees for first-hand accounts of their experiences—asking questions and actively listening to them—is often the best method for conducting a needs analysis.

When conducting a training needs analysis:

1) Identify the knowledge, skills, and behaviors essential for achieving performance and business goals.

2) Collect information about the employees currently doing the work:

  • Do they have the right skills to do the job?
  • Do they have the right knowledge to do the job?
  • Are workers motivated to do the job?
  • What type of training is available?
  • How are they trained (classroom, online, on-the-job)?
  • Are there other variables affecting performance?

3) Identify the gaps between current knowledge and required knowledge.

4) Evaluate existing and new training options that eliminate the knowledge or skill gaps.

5) Report the analysis findings, and include recommendations for training plans.

When training is determined to be a necessary means to overcome a knowledge deficit, a Learning professional can recommend or develop training best aligned with the employee’s role or function to promote knowledge retention and support enhanced skills transfer.

In my organization, UL, our adult learning experts can review an organization’s current training matrix and competency plans to identify gaps in learning solutions and recommend off-the-shelf or custom training options to close those gaps.

2. Assess training effectiveness.

When training is assumed to be the right intervention, a post-training analysis or audit confirms if the training produces the desired performance outcome.

Example: Information collected during the review might include the learner’s opinion on the effectiveness of the training and the impact of the training on the employee’s job performance. It also can measure the clearness and relevancy of the content.

For e-learning, a post-training review often provides metrics on the average pacing of the course, time spent completing the course, and insight into the assessment—the number of questions answered correctly, the number of attempts until it is marked as passed, and other diagnostic data.

Valuable data also comes from auditing pre-training performance as compared to post-training performance.

Example: Testing an employee’s skills before and after the training to identify performance improvement.

TAKEAWAY: If there are no external environmental or personal factor changes, improved employee performance can link to training effectiveness.

Organizations who are interested in preventing serious losses due to safety lapses consistently review training programs to ensure employees are receiving targeted training to prevent safety incidents.

3. Analyze post-training metrics.

When delivering e-learning via a dynamic learning management system (LMS), post-training audits benefit from the data compiled from thousands of learners. This data helps Learning and Development professionals isolate unsatisfactory course content through test question results, topics completed too quickly, or common exit points in the course. (Thank you kindly, big data.)

A continuum of technological activity in the business world today requires a powerful training arsenal to keep employees compliant, upskilled, motivated, and performing optimally.

But these training efforts need to be measured and assessed to ensure the manpower and expense devoted to professional development meets desired educational goals and performance outcomes.

Teri Hale is a senior learning manager at UL PURE Learning, overseeing program management for the UL EHS Content Solutions group. She is a global e-learning speaker and author, holds an MS degree in Technology Education, and is a Certified Project Management Professional.