Proof Of The Pudding: Measuring The Business Impact Of Corporate Training

Measuring The Business Impact Of Corporate Training
Summary: In the workplace, proving the benefits of our activities is not always easy. But in order to know what activities truly add value and help to achieve goals, measuring results and providing evidence of success is vital. Measuring the impact of corporate training is highly important but it is often not done effectively or indeed at all. This article addresses some of the key considerations for measuring the training in every organization.

Investment in training and employee capability development is higher than it has ever been. In 2014, spending on corporate training reached an estimated $70 billion in the U.S. alone. Considering how much money and resources companies are committing to training, shouldn’t they be doing everything they can to justify doing it?

Why should we measure Corporate training?

We all know that employees need training right? They need it in order to be able to do their jobs with confidence and efficiency. That’s common knowledge, so why would we need to measure anything? Without closely monitoring the performance of your employees, how can you really determine how well employees how much progress they make following their training and what level of impact their training has had on productivity, profitability and the success of the organization as a whole?

What exactly should we be measuring?

There are a whole range of metrics that can be generated by Learning and Development teams to determine the impact of training on an organization. Some of your key metrics should include:

  1. Increased sales
    Are there signs of an increase in sales since you deployed your training? Seek out ways that tie increasing sales directly to training such as monitoring employee workloads and productivity.
  2. Reduced costs
    One of the main metrics used to prove the value of training by many organizations is cost savings. You should be looking at how training affects the operational costs of the organization.
  3. Increased employee retention
    Increased retention rates are generally a good indication of employee satisfaction. If staff receive training, it gives them confidence and improved ability to do their jobs. This can often leads to a better employee retention rate.

Measuring Corporate Training Performance: 4 Important Considerations 

  1. Determine what the business is already measuring
    If you haven’t already been tracking, analyzing and evaluating how training performs in your organization, now is the time to start. Begin by assessing what areas of the business are already being measured and determine how you can add to this through measuring training impact. Most likely, sales and ROI are the main focus of your organization in terms of evidence of success. Consider how the business is measuring these things and see if you can apply a similar model to training. It shouldn’t be too difficult to do this – cost savings, increased productivity and sales, as highlighted earlier, are some of the main KPIs you can get from training.
  2. Complete performance reviews and impact assessment
    At a basic level, this is one of the best ways to determine the impact that training has on a business. It may not tell you how it has affected ROI or sales directly, but monitoring the performance of individual employees and departments through performance reviews and assessing their skills and ability will tell you a lot. Doing this should help you answer a key question – how has their training affected the quality of their work? If you can tie performance improvement to training, there is a strong case to be made that training has resulted in more confident and capable employees. This leads to increased efficiency and productivity which in turn leads to higher sales and good ROI.
  3. Utilize control groups
    A control group is a group used as a standard of comparison in a controlled experiment. Using control groups is an excellent way of proving how valuable something can be. They can be particularly useful in piloting a training program, highlighting the value of training in terms of employee skills development, etc. For example, if training on a new production process is required by three production lines in a large manufacturing firm, training could be provided to just two of the three groups with the third group not receiving any training initially. The Learning and Development function would monitor the teams who received training for a 2-3 month period and compare their performance against the team that received no training. The results of this could be used to establish how much the work of the trained teams improved and thus determine the overall benefit of the training program by comparison with the investment made to develop it.
  4. Evaluate and improve existing Learning and Development processes
    Perhaps you already have a strategy for measuring training? Ask yourself, just how effective is it? Does it provide me with enough data I can use to justify our investment in training? Are there other ways to highlight the benefits of training to management which could result in them increasing the budget for training in the next financial year? Quite often, we implement strategies and processes to help us doing things more effectively. But once they are in place, we neglect them and forget that there are always new ways to improve them. Once you have a process of measuring training, each year you should review it carefully. Perform an Learning and Development needs analysis. Organizations grow, develop and change over time and the process you have for measuring training, like any other, should adapt to changes and growing needs within the business.

Deploying training programs in your organization because you believe they are necessary is fine. But always be prepared to back up and support what you believe with results and KPIs. The saying “proof of the pudding is in the eating” truly applies here. Training staff is one thing. But actually proving the value that training adds in terms of employee skills development, cost savings, increased sales and ROI and performance improvement of teams across your organization should be your top priority.

For further perspectives on this topic, read 3 Ways to Measure Training Effectiveness and learn more about how you can apply measurement techniques to your business.