Training programs are essential in enhancing employee performance and driving business results. As a result, every year, organizations make significant investments in learning and development (L&D). However, assessing their impact on business can be a tough mandate. A majority of training programs are tracked for registrations, timely completions and assessment scores. However, most organizations do not have much data on the impact those programs have on the business and whether they accomplished the goal they sought to achieve.
To meet the business mandate, you must be able to evaluate the effectiveness of training programs not just through standard L&D metrics but by measuring business metrics to evaluate their impact on the organization. Then, you can shift your focus from measuring the impact to maximizing it.
This process requires resources at several levels, over an extended period of time. Often, data collation is hampered by current technology or by L&D team members (or lack thereof) who can analyze data and generate actionable insights for the business. However, in spite of these challenges and the intrinsic complexity of measuring and maximizing impact, training teams can create frameworks to measure the business impact of their programs and then identify how to maximize their impact.
With that goal in mind, here are five strategies that will help you measure the business impact of your training programs and, more significantly, maximize it!
1. Set the Right Foundation: Focus on both L&D and Business Metrics
During the training needs analysis (TNA), L&D teams focus on their learning objectives and the strategy that will enable them to achieve those objectives. Then, after training, they typically have parameters to measure its effectiveness through L&D metrics.
However, it is also vital to ascertain whether the business gained anything from the training program. You can do so through the combination of L&D metrics and business metrics. You’ll also need to identify the evaluation model that will help you measure both.
2. Choose the Right Evaluation Model
Identifying the right evaluation model is imperative for training; it will help you clarify what you will measure, how you will measure it, and how you will identify and understand evaluation outcomes.
Success also rests on understanding how to customize the evaluation model. For example, you will take a different approach to evaluating compliance training, soft skills training and software training. Likewise, you will need to take a different approach to evaluation based on learners’ skill and cognition levels.
In addition, do not limit evaluation to summative assessments. You should also evaluate how your training programs help learners apply their new skills on the job by assessing key on-the-job indicators.
3. Use a Holistic Approach to Drive Employee Performance and Behavioral Transformation
To ensure that your training programs create the requisite impact, you need many enablers in action. Rather than focusing on discrete training programs, use a holistic learning and performance ecosystem approach that has several components that touch learners at different points of their learning journey. This approach will enable you to sustain and maximize the business impact of your training programs.
In an ecosystem-based approach, in addition to formal training, you can add elements that:
- Engage and motivate learners.
- Inspire sticky learning experiences.
- Offer practice to enable employees to gain further expertise in a particular area.
- Help learners apply new skills.
- Offset the forgetting curve.
- Enable ongoing connections after the successful completion of training.
In addition, include avenues for social or collaborative learning, and don’t forget to add nudges for self-directed learning. In addition, be sure to leverage the four prime enablers of the learning and performance ecosystem:
1. Engage Learners Before Rolling out the Program
It is challenging to motivate overwhelmed employees who are not interested in investing time in training, which is why it is important to implement measures to engage and motivate learners. They could include videos with messages from leaders on the importance of the training programs for the employees and the business or teaser videos that give learners a view on the value of investing time on a given training (answering “what’s in it for me,” or WIIFM).
2. Use an All-inclusive Approach to Design and Delivery, Including Performance Support Interventions
Don’t stop at explaining the significance of the training and its value proposition to the learner; also look for value adds that will encourage learners to register and complete the training. For instance, you could include personalized learning paths that leverage bite-sized learning and are compatible with multiple devices — in other words, mobile microlearning.
3. Augment Formal Training
Leverage your learning and performance ecosystem-based approach to augment formal training with nuggets that reinforce new knowledge and skills and enable learners to practice and apply them on the job.
4. Leverage JUST-IN-TIME LEARNING OR JOB AIDS
Just-in-time content such as job aids should be accessible to learners within the flow of work and so they can access help when needed. These aids should be accessible without logging into the learning management system (LMS).
4. Spot-check Periodically, and Showcase Impact and Value to the Business
After learners have completed training, determine its impact on the business using the evaluation model you selected to collate and analyze the data. Next, it is important to showcase this value to the business.
Based on your analysis, you can also reconfigure or tweak your training programs. Alternatively, based on the value or gain that the business is seeking, you could consider appending required components into the existing learning journey.
5. Sustain and Maximize the Business Impact
Once you start seeing impact, start investing in measures that will help you sustain your momentum and maximize that impact. Besides formal training, learners need to have ongoing connections with a range of resources to reinforce learning, challenge them, and enable them to practice and grow. Foster a sense of continuous learning through approaches like:
The task of measuring and sustaining the impact of training programs is challenging, and there is no single approach to doing so. Hopefully, these insights and strategies have provided practical tips that you can use to maximize the business impact of your training programs.