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The purpose of training and development for any organization is to achieve certain improvements in employee productivity and organizational performance. However, companies invest huge amounts in preparing such programs, hiring trainers and consultants, and making logistical arrangements for delivering the training. To what extent are these investments producing a desired impact on the organization is the focus of this article. An ideal training and development program should:
Assessing the impact of training and development in the workplace involves assessing whether the above objectives have been met.
In order to stay competitive in the modern environment, companies invest large amounts in a variety of training and development programs such as IT training online programs. According to some estimates, the annual investment in such programs is increasing at a rate of 14% each year. For such investment to be viable it is necessary for the employee learning to be practical and enduring. Here is where measurement of the training impact plays a critical role as it can guide management about the direction of future training programs.
The main outcomes of such programs are to improve employee productivity and workforce readiness, and to expand their skill set. In an environment where employees are expected to be responsible for their professional development, organizations should define the key metrics that help them estimate the ROI of their training investment.
There are many tools available to organizations that can help them to determine the efficacy of training and development programs such as IT training online sessions. Some of these include surveys, discussions, quizzes, exams, and case studies. Each of these methods provides the management with data about performance outcomes that can help to estimate the ROI of these programs. However, each method depends on the type of training and the type of data that will be generated.
Companies can use a 4-stage framework to measure whether their training programs are yielding the desired outcomes. At each level, the manager is required to ask a different set of reflective questions from the training providers as well as the employees:
Stage 1: Responses
The first stage involves gathering responses from the users of the training program. Their feedback about the utility and importance of the training can be collected by using a variety of instruments such as questionnaires, survey forms, and discussions to improve the training for future.
Such discussions can focus on the ability of employees to follow the contents of the program, the important lessons they learned from it, the pros and cons of the trainer or training program, and if the training addressed their preferred style of learning.
The responses to these questions should indicate if the learners had positive perceptions about the training and any gaps in the training that need to be fulfilled in the subsequent sessions.
Stage 2: Measuring learning outcomes
The second stage is where the management assesses the learning outcomes of the employees. The best way of measuring this is by administering pre and post-training tests to see the increase in learning outcomes. Employees can be asked to implement the techniques they have learned in their projects and measure the increasing inefficiency.
Over the long term, the organization can measure the impact of these learnings on their KPIs and other metrics. Feedback can also be collected from the trainers and the supervisors of employees who may report on the performance of individual employees.
However, in order to implement this stage successfully, it is necessary for the management to identify the relevant metrics for each training prior to the delivery of the training program. This will make it easier for management to measure learning outcomes easily.
Stage 3: Measuring employee behavior
Some positive effects of the training and development program can be observed in the behaviour of employees as they go about their regular tasks. If the training has been successful, employees may exhibit greater workforce readiness, confidence, cooperation, leadership abilities, and a positive attitude.
Managers can use questionnaires, casual feedback sessions, focus groups, supervisor reports, customer feedback, and personal observation to identify signs of improvement in employee behavior. The managers can focus on implementation of learning in the employees’ work and their eagerness to share these insights with their colleagues and team members.
Stage 4: Measuring concrete results
The best results about the effectiveness of training and development programs can be obtained from organization-wide metrics or departmental results. If the employees have imbibed the learning well, then the company should experience cost reductions, fewer errors, better deadlines, and higher quality outcomes.
All of this leads to faster achievements in business outcomes, better productivity, and high morale. The workforce as a whole experiences better workplace satisfaction and job satisfaction, whereas customers also feel the difference in better service quality.
Applying the four stages described above requires a considerable investment of time and money. Therefore, a selective approach is the most sensible way of implementing this framework. In this regard, each of these stages should focus on a pre-defined scope.
For example, stage 1 should be applied to all training sessions, whereas stage 2 should be applied for technical training programs. Stage 3 measurement is more appropriate for training programs aimed at developing business level skills and concepts among learners, whereas stage 3 methods should be used to measure the effectiveness of high-investment programs.
The purpose of workplace training and development programs is to improve the performance of employees as individuals, and that of the organization as a whole. However, not all benefits are tangible, and hence, measurable. At the same time, it is important to assess whether the company’s investment has been productive and to what extent.
Once the results of measurement have been obtained, managers need to identify what worked and what didn’t so that future training programs can be made more effective. Thus, the process does not end but continues as a cycle.