Offering training to your employees is an excellent way to increase retention, attract top talent, and create a culture of learning, but how do you know if it’s helping them gain the skills and knowledge they need? Is it making any difference to the way they do their jobs? Ultimately, you want to be able to measure the success of the training and its impact. How? We’ve put together some key ways to measure that impact.
Key Questions to Set Your Direction
Before you build and launch training – whether it’s eLearning, face to face, or a blended approach – you want to look at the kinds of information you need to collect from participants and when to do so, as well as your overall goals for the training. The assumption is that at this point you’ve evaluated whether it’s the right time for training/that the training is helpful and necessary, and now it’s about getting clear on what you want that training to achieve.
Some key questions to ask yourself as you plan:
- What do we need or want employees/learners to be able to do differently after the training?
- How will the training help overcome any stumbling blocks that currently exist for learners?
- How effective will the training be to help learners gain relevant, relatable skills and knowledge?
- How and when will learners be able to apply what they learn directly to their jobs?
Be Clear on What You Want to Measure
According to Northpass, “Training evaluation metrics may include both quantitative data, such as completion rates and quiz scores, and qualitative data, such as learner feedback on whether the training met their needs and led to changed workplace behaviors.”
You need to carefully plan out what elements you’ll be measuring and how you’ll get the data you need. The more you can focus on measurables, the easier it will become to figure out the return on investment of the training and whether it’s doing what you want it to do. However, anecdotal evidence can be helpful too. Some common ways to gather data on learning are post-training surveys, quizzes, one-on-one discussions/interviews, and of course certifications.
Something to consider is whether you know the learner’s baseline before the training. It’s a great idea to see what employees have learned after their training, but do you know their level of knowledge beforehand so you can compare and see if anything has changed? Doing a pre- and post-training survey or quiz can help you see impact. If there’s no change in knowledge, attitudes, or skills, then the training did not hit the target and you need to consider revamping the training.
When to Measure Training Impacts
Before training begins, gather baseline data for each metric you’ll measure in ways that make sense for your needs and budget (e.g., through meetings, interviews, surveys).
During training, use feedback surveys, quizzes, and quick check-ins to determine if learners are understanding the information and if they’re making positive progress during the training.
After training, it’s important to measure twice: immediately afterwards to see how much knowledge learners have gained and if they feel confident they have the skills they need from the training, and then again a few weeks later to see if information was retained and whether it’s being applied on the job or had the intended effect for learners.
What to Measure and the Kirkpatrick Model
How do you know what you should be measuring? The most common evaluation model that crops up in any discussion on training measurements is the Kirkpatrick Model. During the late 1950s, University of Wisconsin Professor Donald Kirkpatrick developed the four levels of the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model for evaluating and measuring the impacts of training.
Level 1: Reaction – The first level focuses on learners’ reactions to the training. Did they find the training relevant and valuable for their jobs? Were they engaged? Did they participate in the training? You can evaluate learners’ reactions and levels of satisfaction through feedback forms, surveys, and by observing their body language during training (if in-person or blended).
Level 2: Learning – The second level focuses on measuring how much learners understood and if the training enabled them to gain the knowledge, attitude, confidence, and skills they needed to gain from the training. You can measure how much it helped them with their skill development by doing pre- and post-learning tests and hands-on assignments.
Level 3: Behaviour – The third level focuses on evaluating whether learners have adjusted their behaviours after the training and if they’re applying what they learned during training once they’re back doing their day-to-day work. You can measure this through on-the-job inspections, interviews, evaluations from participants’ supervisors, and observations. If you don’t see a difference, you need to evaluate whether the behaviour hasn’t changed because of the ineffectiveness of the training or if the right supports aren’t in place for learners to apply the new knowledge to their jobs.
Level 4: Results – The final level is where you evaluate the overall results of the training and if the training has met the overall objectives you set out to meet. For example, has the training increased employee retention? Has productivity gone up? Has it reduced errors? Has it improved customer satisfaction? This is where you need to compare training objectives to your business outcomes.
The Kirkpatrick Model is by no means the only way to measure training effectiveness. Some evaluation methods can be more costly than others, so it’s important to do some research on what makes sense for your organization, learners, and overall objectives.
Some Final Thoughts on Measuring Training Impacts
Regardless of the method you use, having clear learning objectives and measuring learning impacts is important because the data you gather will help you improve training programs, evaluate whether it’s making the difference you need it to make, and identify any potential blocks that learners may experience when trying to translate the learning onto the job.
The more you can be consistent and careful in your measurements, the more you, your organization, and your learners will benefit.