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Learning and Development | 6 Min Read

How To Measure The Training Effectiveness Of an Employee Training Program

Introduction

Innovation in the market, given its intensely competitive nature, is a continual phenomenon. It is one of the reasons that catalyze changes in an organization’s aims and objectives. It necessitates re-calibrating employees’ skills in terms of the competencies aligned with the business objectives. Organizations undertake it by providing training to their employees. Continual focus on learning and development enables new employees to understand the means of leveling up to the company’s expectations and offers existing employees the opportunity to expand their knowledge base.

“If you believe that training is expensive, it is because you do not know what ignorance costs.”

While training is seen as an expense and not an investment, learning and upgrading employees’ skills makes business sense. It is a continuous process starting from day one. The real issue in this rapidly growing economy should be how companies provide training to their employees and whether they are significant enough to impact employee growth and meet the business objectives.

When training programs are implemented in the company, enhanced employee performance and business productivity are naturally expected. But how can one know the effectiveness of a training program? Did employees grasp what they were expected to learn? Did they get the most out of the new knowledge at work? Did they achieve the objectives? And was the training initiative worth the organization’s investment? The answers to these questions will depend on the assessment of learning outcomes. In a nutshell, training courses are designed to impart new skills, but their efficacy requires systematically evaluating the training effectiveness.

What Is Training Effectiveness?

Training effectiveness is the evaluation determining the level to which training impacts the trainee’s knowledge, skills and behavior. It is a measure of the degree to which training enhances trainee’s performance, such as how your employees improved their sales and soft skills, maximized their productivity, or achieved business objectives. Training effectiveness is also evaluated in terms of a positive ROI (return on financial investment). The ROI metric is useful at the end of the evaluation process and considers the learning outcomes in observable and measurable terms against the employer’s training investments. Evaluating the effectiveness of corporate training programs through scientifically validated techniques is called training effectiveness measurement. For training effectiveness evaluation, start by identifying why, who, and what of training, followed by the given training.

How Do You Measure the Effectiveness of Training?

Training effectiveness evaluation doesn’t compulsorily require organizations, large or small, to invest significant sums and time. Excellent results can be achieved with careful planning and forethought. Both business goals and training goals should be aligned to obtain the desired results. For instance, an inbound call-center sets a target of efficiently answering sixteen percent more customer queries than the previous year.  Then the aligned training objectives include each representative enrolling in an online course on using advanced call-center software.   

Employee training metrics may include qualitative data (learner feedback on whether the training added value to their job) and quantitative data (quiz score and completion rates). Which objectives and metrics to use is predominantly the organization’s prerogative. The optimal way to achieve success and track learning progress varies with each enterprise’s training program requirements and characteristics.

Given below are some commonly available tools used in the process:

  • Focus groups
  • Surveys
  • On-the-job assessment
  • Personal interviews
  • Certification exams
  • Self-assessment questionnaire
  • Peer-to-peer feedback

The impact of training can be measured in three stages: Before, during and post-training. Before the commencement of the training, baseline data should be collected for each metric needed to be measured. During the training, a feedback loop can help understand learners’ progress. Post-training assessment should be conducted to evaluate what information is being retained and whether it would have the desired effect.

The Traditional Approach and the Modern Approach to Evaluating Training Effectiveness

The term ‘training program’ is often welcomed in the board rooms. The goal of these training courses—and most such programs—is to enhance execution and results. However, the way training is provided varies among organizations with differences in targets, products and employees. 68% of workers claim that training and development are the most crucial company policies.

  • The first step in training employees is identifying the audience and the specific nature of their training. Most companies consider only the job role and create a one-for-all assessment based on the job role.
  • The training is imparted, after the identification, using specific methods, such as lectures (online and offline), group activities such as roleplays and group discussions or films and videos.
  • The last but the most crucial step is to measure the effectiveness of the training programs – which most companies either refrain from or follow some ineffective ways that include merely recording the reaction of trainees or something on similar lines which has negligible effectiveness.

The above ways of identification are not all in sync with business objectives. It is squandering time and resources, for you do not know if the audience in attendance is the same as the targeted one. Also, you are unaware of suitable content. Also, these ways cannot ensure whether the program is useful enough to engage employees. A better training effectiveness strategy measures the RoI of the company’s investment. 

These steps have become a part of traditional approaches and do not have much impact on employees.

Did You Know?

The total loss to a business from inadequate training is nearly US$13.5M per year, per 1000 employees.

Either you train your employees with the most effective training programs or go with the flow. There is no point in investing in something that cannot guarantee success.

How to Track and Evaluate Training Effectiveness?

Millennials … are more socially and globally connected … than any prior generation. And they don’t question; they learn.

Brad Smith

Training Effectiveness - How To Measure The Effectiveness Of Employee Training Program

Whether it’s a big corporation or a budding startup, none can ignore employees’ training and development needs. However, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to choose a training program. Depending on the business objectives, aligned competencies, and numerous other factors, there are specific parameters on which training needs effectiveness can be identified.

What is Training Needs Identification?

Unlike traditional training methods, the structuring of a training program should begin from the first step, i.e., identifying the 3Ws: Why train, Who to train, and What to train for. Let us consider a product-based company, ABC, that creates a fantastic product and teams representing it. Unfortunately, they are unable to achieve to the fullest. However, the committee found out that its sales team wasn’t working as expected, requiring its workforce to undergo training. Not all employees needed the same training. Therefore, an assessment based on the competencies aligned with the organization could suffice the need of managers and give them an idea of:

Why Train?

Everyone is not perfect. Most employees have some weak points or dark areas in their work skills, for which they need to be trained. The assessments could inform about the need for training, for they reflect deficiencies and competencies which need to be worked upon.

Who to Train?

Not all employees need to be trained. Neither do all employees need the same level of training. The assessments generate a full-fledged report of employees who need training.

What to Train On?

A person with sufficient product knowledge and inadequate presentation skills cannot suffice an organization’s needs. The managers should have a clear idea of what the training should comprise and which competencies are particularly needed.

Role of Training Needs Assessments

Assessments are enough to provide clarity on which employees need training, in which particular areas. To find out the 3Ws, some of the tools that companies ABC should use are-

  • Assessment & Development Centers (AC/DC) – Rafting, sailing, rope climbing – don’t be shocked! These are some of the adventure training practiced by companies to assess competencies that are majorly focused on who you are and not what you can do. Setting up these centers is not a mean feat.
  • The median cost of setting up and running an assessment center is somewhere between US$300 and US$5,000 (prices may be subject to variations) for every candidate invited for participation. This includes choosing credible and qualified members for the assessors’ panel, designing exercises, activities and other off-site expenses. Also, there are no detailed reports of the participants’ performance.

Setting up an AC/DC is an effective way to identify the training needs, yet an alternate blended approach could better suffice the needs. 

Virtual Assessment/Development Centers – VAC is an automated online version of assessment centers provided by companies such as Mettl. It is an approach to selection or professional development based on competencies expected for a concerned role. It gives a detailed and holistic report by assessing the candidate in various aspects and evaluating their fitment or current proficiency.

The Training Effectiveness Measurement/Evaluation Process considers:

  • Cognitive Ability
  • Personality Traits
  • Demonstrated Behaviors
  • Functional Knowledge/Skills

The advantages: It is entirely virtual, convenient and hassle-free. There is no unique setup required other than computers and internet connectivity. The assessments’ content can be customized based on the organization’s competency framework, target audience and the context.  Most importantly, it is cost-effective and provides completely automated results.

However, there can be cases where VAC’s alone does not work. The organization could adopt a blended approach where offline activities via assessors could produce the required results in conjunction with the online assessment.

Another approach for Training Need Identification is via theory tests, which has an alternative discussed below.

Theory Tests: Some organizations still believe in taking theoretical assessments when training their employees. As human beings, we learn more viably through experiential techniques and are energized by associating with one another. We are social, portable beings and not intended to be stuck at work areas taking notes.

Training Effectiveness - How To Measure The Effectiveness Of Employee Training Program

There is a better alternative to theoretical tests which could have a  more significant impact:

Customized Assessments: Most organizational stakeholders believe that a highly customized test that is entirely company-oriented is a viable solution to their assessment needs. In this digital world, everyone prefers online assessments to one involving pen-and-paper.

These are comprehensive and objective assessments that provide insight into the employee’s work-oriented personality. These assessments are designed according to different job roles. They aim to help candidates leverage their strengths and address their areas of development. Moreover, these assessments are easy to administer. The results are not observer biased, being quantitative and objective.

Compared to companies that don’t, companies that invest in employee training enjoy a 24% higher profit margin.

A situation may occur where ABC Company is unsure about the effectiveness of these training programs. Let’s discuss training effectiveness.

Using the Modern Approach to Evaluating Training Effectiveness

Talking about the ABC Company, if it arranges training and development programs, it might know the necessity of evaluating training effectiveness and its ROI. Ultimately, nobody wants to spend valuable resources on training that does not provide better returns.

  • What is the impact of training on employees?
  • Was the training useful in helping participants increase practical learning and aptitudes?
  • Could the learners apply what they learned and enhance their performance at work?

1. Pre-Assessment

First, an assessment is taken, which reports each participant’s proficiency across critical competencies- a specific set of competencies required to succeed at a workplace across different job roles. These reports are necessary, for we cannot go ahead until the correct match between the candidate to be trained and competency to be worked upon has been found.

Let’s say there is a company experienced enough to identify the training needs. In simple words, it not only understands which employees require training but in what, precisely. Some companies have a better solution for these cases. The method involved in such companies would include a pre-assessment that could predict an employee’s actual standing as per the competencies aligned to the business objectives.

2. Effective Training

Once the 3Ws and employee proficiency in critical competencies have been found, the next step is the training, which can be done in various ways. It could either be a classroom or instructor-led training or include interactive methods, such as quizzes, case studies, group discussions or some Q and A sessions. This program could also include such online events as video-conferencing, audio-conferencing, webinars or distance learning programs.

3. Post-Assessment – How to Measure Training Effectiveness?

The training is followed by measuring its effectiveness. Fortunately, some proven methodologies for measuring the training effectiveness already exist. One can successfully measure training effectiveness using the Kirk-Patrick Model.

The Kirk Patrick Model (The 4 Levels of Training Evaluation)

1. Reaction

This level measures how learners have responded to the training, including the critical aspects of the activity – utilizing reviews, questionnaires, or talking to participants to get honest feedback on the training experience.

This process could include:

  • Finding out if the course content was easy and relevant
  • Discussing the program’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Asking about the key takeaways
  • Know if the program was successful in matching the learner’s perception and learning style.

At the end of this level, you should look for any gaps in the content.

2. Learning 

You can measure what the trainees have learned and how much knowledge they have gained at this level. This step could include:

  • Test scores amid and after the training
  • Assessment of connected learning ventures
  • Course completion and accreditation

After going through these sets of metrics, assessment is done again (obviously with an enhanced set of questionnaires) after three months. This method could also fill the gaps and let the trainees know about themselves better, thus influencing the training effectiveness.

3. Behavior

This level indicates how trainees apply the information and how it has impacted their performance and attitude. It takes 360-degree feedback from supervisors, peers, and reporters. This includes:

  • How has learning been actualized at work?
  • Are the trainees sure to share their new abilities and learning to their companions?
  • Are the trainees aware that they’ve changed their behavior?

4. Results

The last level comes down to the ‘why’ part of the training. It captures the difference in the participant’s behavior before and after the program. It includes outcomes that the organization has determined to be good for business and employees. The learning outcomes may suggest:

Training is all about improving performances, be it, individual or group, thus influencing the organization’s overall performance. Each consecutive level is a more accurate measurement than the prior one. In this way, ABC Company conducted training programs and even measured its success and its impact on employees.

Why Is Effective Training Necessary?

Training is essential because it paves ways for employers to enhance their knowledge and job skills, increasing their work efficiency. Despite the training costs involved, employers can expect significant ROI if they provide a consistent training level for employees.

Given below are some reasons that demonstrate the importance of training for employees: 

  • Enhances employees’ skill sets

Training programs help enhance employees’ skills, making them ready to face new challenges head-on in the industry.  Substantial improvements will also be seen in the productivity of employees. Moreover, workers can also learn human relations, work ethics and productivity-enhancing techniques through effective training programs.

  • Addresses the need for improvement

During performance appraisals, managers may suggest the need for progress on a specific skill or subject. That’s where training programs can come in handy and be organized to identify critical areas of improvement for employees and work toward a solution.

  • Instills a sense of responsibility

Training programs can equip employees with the required skills and knowledge to assume new roles and responsibilities in an organization. These programs help them prepare for functioning effectively in their new positions. 

  • Makes employee feel appreciated and valued

Implementing training processes in the workplace will give employees a sense of satisfaction that the employer understands their training needs. By offering learning initiatives to employees, they will improve over time and feel valued like other productive members of the company. This positive perception will only enhance their performance and morale in the organization.

  • Improves technical skills 

Employee training programs also include enhancing employees’ IT and computer skills, such as software systems usage. Organizations can leverage such programs to make employees familiar with such tools as spreadsheets, graphs, database editors, and even help them understand network arrangements, thus expanding their learning horizon.

How Mercer| Mettl Can Help?

Mercer| Mettl brings you efficient and precise tools for evaluating training effectiveness. Now, measuring training effectiveness is incredibly easy with our custom-made assessments. These simple, reliable assessments will help you understand the training lifecycle to evaluate the training effectiveness. When decoding the training life cycle, four steps are involved: identifying training needs, administering pre-training assessments, training, and post-training assessments. Our useful tools will enable you to measure the ROI of your training program. These have been divided into two segments: Mercer | Mettl’s Pre and Post-Assessment Framework.

  • Pre- Training Assessment

Mettl’s Pre-Training Assessments are customized for a specific competency framework for the training. These assessments, administered before training, measure the current proficiency level in the desired competencies.

  • Post-Training Assessment

Mettl’s post-training assessment framework is designed based on the Kirk Patrick 4 level training evaluation model, the worldwide standard for evaluating training effectiveness. Our efficient training effectiveness assessment framework will help you assess training effectiveness accurately. You can also sign up for a free demo here and have one of our experts help you find the best solution.

Conclusion

Understand the roadblock in the training program you offer to your employees. When training lines up with the business and a characterized feedback system for every partner, it helps you meet your business objectives with a more logical approach. Employees at all levels comprehend expectations, operationalize vision and values, and perceive what precisely is essential to succeed.

FAQs

Get the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about measuring the training effectiveness:

How effective are training and development initiatives?

Training and development programs enable employees to improve their knowledge base and maximize their productivity and efficiency. While companies bear the cost of training, it is a worthwhile investment. The return on investment from training and development initiatives can be leveraged by businesses to create a future-ready workforce and serve their customers in a much better manner. Here’s why implementing training programs is crucial for companies:

  • Enhanced productivity: Training initiatives can help employees enhance their performance because their skill level increases with time, helping them complete their work faster. 
  • Overcoming weaknesses: The key areas of employee development can help employees in identifying their strengths and weaknesses. A training program enables employees to recognize and accept their flaws and turn them into strengths.
  • Improved employee satisfaction: Training can increase employees’ satisfaction levels and make them feel more valued at work as their knowledge will motivate them to perform their duties with great enthusiasm and efficiency. 
  • Enhanced employee learning: Learning plays a pivotal role in shaping an employee’s confidence and encouraging them to minimize errors while working. Employees who try learning through trials and errors undergo a time-taking process that negatively impacts their productivity. Hence, training and development programs help boost employee morale and create a positive work culture.

What is the training effectiveness evaluation?

Evaluating training effectiveness is not as easy as it seems. Some questions cause concern, such as should you base the assessment on how well trainees retain what they’ve been taught or how well they implement what they’ve learned. What would be your approach in either case?  Would it be easy to measure the ROI of training? 

Luckily, we don’t have to grapple with these questions. Professor Donald Kirkpatrick’s training effectiveness model includes four levels of training evaluation that addresses these questions:

  • Reaction: what trainees think and feel about the training in progress
  • Learning: how well trainees remembered the knowledge provided by the training 
  • Behavior: how well they implement the absorbed understanding in their application
  • Results: what substantial impact the training has had on the learners

What is the training effectiveness index?

The effectiveness of multiple aspects of training programs can be assessed on a five-point continuum, varying from very high to very low effectiveness via this formula.

This is the formula for calculating the training effectiveness index: TS obtained by participants/ Maximum possible score X 100

TEI = Training Effectiveness Index; TS = Training score

What three methods can be used to evaluate training effectiveness?

  • The Phillips ROI Methodology
  • The CIPP evaluation model
  • The Kirkpatrick Taxonomy

What are the four levels of evaluation?

The Kirkpatrick four levels of evaluations are Reaction, Learning, Behavior and Outcome.

What does the 70-20-10 rule mean?

In 1980, Morgan McCall, Robert A. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo created the popular 70-20-10 model for learning and development. It states that professionals acquire seventy percent of their knowledge from professional experiences, twenty percent from communicating with others and ten percent from formal educational events.

What is the main objective of training?

Training is a strategic process of improving professionals’ skills and competencies to excel in their current roles. The primary purpose of the training is to enable organizations to achieve their objectives by empowering the employees.

What are the objectives of training and development in an organization?

  • Providing essential task-related knowledge to the teams
  • Enhancing learning, skill systematically
  • Building a productive workforce
  • Improving workplace safety
  • Supporting employee career advancement
  • Ensuring best practices for equipment handling

How is the training impact measured?

Measuring training impact quantitatively and systematically is possible through the standard formula for calculating training ROI (in percentage) =(Monetary benefits – Training Costs)/Training Costs x 100. One must consider the cost and results for analyzing the training impact.

Why is the evaluation of training effectiveness necessary?

Measuring training effectiveness can be perceived as a process of ascertaining a substantial difference, evident in skills, knowledge, job performance, training costs, and the quality of the training needed. The primary idea behind evaluating training effectiveness is to ensure whether the activity helps employers accomplish their particular objectives.

Evaluate Training Effectiveness With Our Tools for Measuring Training Effectiveness

Measuring Training Effectiveness is Easy With Our Custom-Made Assessments

Originally published March 9 2018, Updated October 5 2020

Ankur Tandon

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Helping businesses beat content mediocrity by generate engaging content, both short and long form including blogs, social media, case studies, newsletters and more.

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