Now that we’re in the thick of our Fourth Industrial Revolution, organizations have never been hungrier for new and innovative ways of getting training content to their employees. With this contemporary revolution placing the highest premium on efficiency and impact, today’s savviest stakeholders are looking for the simplest, most cost-effective way of driving the greatest employee behavior change and business impact back on the job.

This means they want to cut away all the scrap learning that often comes with lengthy, one-size-fits-all classroom experiences, but at the same time don’t want to leave it completely up to their employees to train themselves online. They want to retain that powerful traditional instructor experience but want the flexibility to choose the content they think will pack the biggest punch for their bottom line.

One training option that touts its effectiveness when it comes to this type of flexibility, customization and efficiency is live online learning.  Here, organizations can choose from a wide variety of virtual courses, invite cohorts of their own employees, train on their own schedule and construct their own unique training experiences based on their most immediate business demands.

Sounds great — right?  But the big question is does it actually work?  Does it drive the behavior change and the business impact that any and all stakeholders care about?

A Case Study at Calendly

In 2022, the leadership development team at Calendly worked closely with a live learning partner to put together a unique training experience for three different “tracks” of leaders within their organization. The weekly courses of dedicated content targeted 61 leaders over the last half of 2022.  They included a “Leadership Foundations” track for newer managers, a “Leading Effective Teams” track for mid-level managers and a “Strategic Leadership” track for more senior leaders.

Using this sample of leaders, the study sought to quantify how applying the manager skills and techniques taught in the customized programs could promote key leader behaviors back on the job and drive higher performance, as well as other key business outcomes for their teams. The measurement strategy was designed to answer five main questions:

  1. Were employees engaged and satisfied with the training experience?
  2. Did employees gain new and valuable insights into how they can be better, more influential leaders?
  3. Did employees actually apply those insights and improve critical leader behaviors on the job three-plus months after the training?
  4. Did those leader behaviors affect their own and teams’ business performance — what were the benefits?
  5. Was it worth it? Was there a positive return on investment (ROI) considering the benefits versus the costs?

See table below for a summary of five-level approach and methodology:

five level approach and methodology chart

The results of the study were as follows:

  • 4.75 out of 5.00 was the average class rating for engagement and satisfaction.
  • 95% of participants gained new and valuable insights relevant to their role.
  • 100% applied the behaviors and techniques back on their jobs and made clear improvements in their leadership three+ months post training.

The most improved behaviors were:

  • Giving feedback (82%).
  • Delegate tasks (75%).
  • Build stronger relationships (55%).
  • Leading one on ones (55%).

These behavior changes led to an estimated 29% overall improvement in performance. Estimation technique was used to isolate the impact of training. Additional, non-monetized benefits at Level 4 included:

  • 52% increase in their happiness at work.
  • 64% deeper connection between manager and directs.
  • 43% increase in intent to stay at Calendly.
  • 95% of participants reported that this commitment to their development made them feel more committed to the success of Calendly.

The average 29% increases in performance benefit was monetized using a conservative pay-for-performance formula and then compared to the cost of training, which yielded an estimated ROI of 706% per participant over three months post training. This meant for every $1.00 invested in training Calendly made back $8.06.

So, Was Customizing Training at Calendly Worth It?

The impact and results of this leadership training clearly show that flexible, cohort-customized virtual learning can pack a seriously impressive ROI.  With a lower cost, and a more targeted approach, it certainly seems to meet the harsh demands of our Fourth Industrial Revolution.  But the overall benefits of doing this type of case study at Calendly extend far beyond this one program.

Measuring the impact and ROI of their training sends a critical message to stakeholders and leaders of the company that L&D is serious about minimizing training time, maximizing training impact and contributing tangible monetized benefits to the business with every program they offer.  And even more importantly, it sends a clear message to all their employees that customized leadership development and career mobility is one of their highest priorities.

So bottom line — get something on the calendar and start measuring the impact of your own training programs, because stakeholders will be happy to see these types of ROI results any day of the week.