ROI on Training Systems

Training ROI: Is the use of Return on Investment for Training Programs. Return on Investment is a metric commonly used in business and financial circles to compare competing investments. The use of Training ROI to measure the return on training investment in training initiatives is growing in the training industry. It is a useful way of measuring whether a particular training course or program offered value for money.

Five Essential Reasons for ROI on Training

  1. ROI will help you boost your budget – No business injects cash into departments that can’t justify the expenditure. Rather, they invest in those delivering a return on investment. Even though it might mean going the extra mile, calculating ROI will help you present the epic work you do in ways decision makers will understand.
  2. Build Your Reputation – When your business has a goal to reach, training is one option out of many. It’s your job to prove training is the best solution on offer. Cultivate a reputation of L&D as the driving force of progress in your organization. Provide data to bolster your claims. Calculating ROI is the best place to start. It will show decision makers that upskilling employees is cost-effective. You will soon discover that your department becomes the first port of call when targets need smashing.
  3. It Will Make You Happier – Lies like “employee training does not create value for business” can only spread if training managers can’t demonstrate that value. If you want to avoid feeling like you are a drain on company resources, you need to face it head-on and calculate your ROI. There will be no nagging doubt in the back of your mind once you see the stats. Rather, you can strut around the office knowing precisely how extraordinary you are.
  4. Fight Your Corner – When times get tough and the money pot shrinks, you need to ensure your budget doesn’t take the hit. To do this, show decision makers why L&D is the best investment they can make. A comprehensive evaluation will give you ammunition to prove that L&D is essential to your business’ growth strategy. Prepare for a lot of hard work, comprehensive evaluations take time, but you will reap the long-term rewards. L&D has often been the first to feel the strain of tightened purse strings.
  5. Improve Your Training – Your goal is to deliver the most effective training you can. To do this, build on what works well and prune what doesn’t. A good training campaign needs continual evaluation. To guide your evaluation, ask questions like these:

  • What does learner feedback tell you?
  • Is your training helping your business achieve its goals?
  • What is the return on your training investment?
  • What does reporting suggest?

This will help you pump investment into the areas where you will reap the greatest reward. A comprehensive evaluation that includes ROI will help you transform your training into a lean, talent-unleashing machine. Calculating return on training investment should be a core of your training strategy. With training ROI being so slippery, measuring it can be difficult.

Five Concrete ways to Measure the ROI of Training Programs

Every learning professional wants to show the value their programs create. Doing so in practice is often difficult. It is a practical approach to begin tackling the ROI of training, starting in those areas where the learning professional is in the driver’s seat.

1. Start Asking Questions well before the Training begins – This initial survey is your chance to begin capturing not just their thoughts, but their hearts and minds. Use it to acknowledge their motivations and expectations, and then incorporate those into your session. Some example questions for a sales training focused on acquiring small and medium-sized business customers:

  • When do you think about the type of sales performer you want to be, and what qualities and skills come to mind?
  • When you think about your most successful segments, what makes the difference?
  • What would most aid you in closing 50 additional SMB leads next week?
  • What challenges did you face last week in closing SMB leads?

Take answers to those questions and make them part of your training. Throughout the training, point out where the context is speaking to these themes.

2. Extend the Session into their Day Jobs – The moments that matter is the ones that happen after training. Follow up in a way that is personalized and tailored to their experience. If you used an affordable, web-based ARS system during training, you may send each participant a copy of their responses. With some systems, you can also launch text message reminders of what they have learned. You can send a survey populated with what they wanted from the session, rather than generic questions. In such a way, the learning is reinforced in their day job, where it matters. Lastly, ask about what matters: How much of what they have learned they put into practice. That is the beginning of calculating the ROI of training.

3. Get a Commitment – By the end of the session, ask for learners’ commitment. Let them do this before they leave the room. What tactical change will they institute when they go back to their desk? What action will they commit to doing? This simple act of committing, particularly if done in front of a group, has an impact on behavior. You can remind participants of their commitment. Save their responses and within a month of the training, resend them to participants.

4. When You Ask Direct Questions in The Training, Ask the Right Ones – Stop asking about the meeting room or whether they enjoyed the speaker, it betrays the true potential value of your learning organization. Consider integrating some deep learning questions into your sessions, many backed by proven research into how adults learn. There are summaries and suggestions from organizations, here are some examples:

  • Scenarios – present a scenario and ask for suggestions from the group on what to do next. Let the group rank each other’s suggestions.
  • Best Answer – Have a multiple-choice question where several of the options are technically correct. Ask participants for the best answer among the correct ones, and then facilitate a debate about why they chose as they did. This promotes discussion and active thinking, rather than temporary memorization.
  • Peer Review – Put the artifact on display, and then have the group make suggestions for improvement. Have participants construct an artifact, a work sample, or perhaps the text of an email campaign.

5. Measure what the Participants Do, not just what they Say – Measure their demonstrated engagement, not their stated engagement. Use an affordable audience response system (e.g., Poll Everywhere) to see where learners are in real time. This not only tests their knowledge but also improves it through the magic of active learning. After the fact, you can look at the results and benchmark sessions against each other. You can share the results with the instructors or speakers in a non-threatening way. In this way, you get to see who is engaged, not who says they were engaged. And how much relative value each session has generated.

NB: Adult learners do not learn without knowing what’s in it for themselves!

Half of the training systems don’t even bother to keep track of participants’ feedback.


July 20


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