How Can I Measure Training Effectiveness?

There are a variety of ways to measure the effectiveness of employee training. The most important thing is to identify the key indicators that will show whether or not employees are retaining and using the information they learned in training

Some standard metrics used to measure training effectiveness include:

  • Knowledge retention: This can be measured with tests or quizzes administered before and after training. It's important to gauge how much employees remember and how well they understand and can apply the material.
  • Employee satisfaction: This can be surveyed through post-training evaluations. It's essential to get feedback on the content and delivery of training and how helpful employees found it.
  • Business impact: How well can employees put what they learned in training into practice? This can be tracked through increased sales, higher customer satisfaction scores, or reduced safety incidents.
measure training effectiveness

Why is Measuring Training Effectiveness Important?

Having a system to measure training effectiveness gives your employees a sense of purpose and direction. They can see how their learning at work fits into the bigger picture and what skills they need to develop to help the company reach its goals. This open communication also allows for two-way feedback, so employees can let managers know what is working well and what needs improvement. Ultimately, measuring training effectiveness creates a more engaged and motivated workforce. And that's good for business. 

Measuring the effectiveness of training is vital for all companies and organizations of all sizes. By identifying the key indicators that show whether employees are retaining and using the information they learned, businesses can ensure that they are getting the most out of their training investments.

The purpose of measuring training effectiveness may include:

  1. Helping you communicate the company's vision to employees.
  2. Providing a way for managers and employees to discuss results.
  3. Empowering employees by making them feel part of the broader vision.

So, now that we know why - what should you look for to prove the effectiveness of your training? With training budgets under increased pressure to demonstrate ROI, those responsible for ensuring the greatest value from every training dollar must look at various options to measure that value. 

Three approaches to measuring training effectiveness are most common: 

The First Approach: How Many Did We Train?

The first approach measures how many people attend the training event. If the event is delivered in person, the measure is how many people were in the room. If the event is offered online, the measure is typically the number of people whose names appear in the software list of participants. Although this is a valid measure of attendance, it is neither a measure of training effectiveness nor of how much participants actually learned.

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The Second Approach: How Much Did They Learn?

The second approach measures how much participants learned from the training but not how much it impacts an organization. Bloom's Taxonomy is a well-known framework for measuring training effectiveness. It identifies six levels of learning, each of which adds an increasing amount of complexity to the brain's functioning. This approach can be used to create more effective training programs and improve overall learning outcomes.

The first level is called Remembering. It asks how much can the learner recall from their long-term memory, not just at the end of a training event. The second level is called Understanding. It measures how much the learner can make sense of the material they remember. Level 3 is called Applying. It measures how much the learner can use the new knowledge. Level 4 is called Analyzing. This measures how well the learner can break what they learned into its component parts and understand how each part is related. The fifth step, called Evaluating, measures how well the learner can make judgments using what was learned based on a set of guidelines or criteria. The last and 6th step is called Creating. This tests how well the learner is able to put information together in an innovative way. 

Although this approach effectively measures how much learners learned, it doesn't tell us how much their training or learning will impact the effectiveness of their organization. The third approach, developed by Kirkpatrick, does that.

training effectiveness

The Third Approach: Four Levels of Training That Demonstrate Training Effectiveness

The Kirkpatrick Model is a well-known approach to evaluating the effectiveness of training and learning programs. It can be used to assess formal and informal training methods and rate them against four criteria levels: reaction, learning, behavior, and results. 

This model can be beneficial for measuring the effectiveness of training programs, as it takes into account a variety of factors that can impact how well participants learn and apply what they've learned. By using this model, businesses can ensure that their training programs have the desired effect and positively impact employees' performance.

In the Kirkpatrick model, each level builds on the previous. The first level is called Reaction – "Did they like it?" This level measures the degree to which the learners find the training event, whether in-person or online useful, engaging, and relevant. 

The second level, learning – "Did they learn anything from it?" measures how much more the learners know, understand, or can do after training. It may or may not measure confidence in the "doing."  

The third level, called Behavior – "Will they do it on the job?" measures how much the learners use what they've learned on the job. This level does not consider any barriers the learners might be experiencing that interfere with the "doing."  

The fourth level is called Results. This measures the extent to which the training moves the needle on business results. Considering that most training is designed to positively impact business results, this fourth level, Results, is what most training is or should be about. The challenge is that without understanding and exploring all three types of measures, training can quickly become a high-cost set of events that may not realize the value intended.

Best Practices in Measuring Training Effectiveness

No matter the topic of your employee training, paying attention to this list of five best practices will help you demonstrate its effectiveness later.

First, determine your KPIs – Key Performance Indicators – in advance. Make sure these goals are reasonable in number and speak directly to the desired outcome of the training. Identify your KPIs before the development phase of your training. We recommend no more than 3-5 KPIs for any specific training. Next, discuss and determine what you will want to measure. This will give you the insight you need to identify the best tools and methods for your specific metrics. Third, think about how you want to collect the data that supports your findings. By including your measurement in the operational structure of the training, you ensure the needs of your stakeholders are met. 

Fourth, customize your evaluation plan to measure what matters most. For example, you might find effectiveness in measuring both second and fourth-level aspects of Kirkpatrick's model; however, this can be time-consuming, so spend effort wisely by assessing just those metrics which are relevant to the KPIs you established. Finally, implement! Take action on your findings to iterate and increase the effectiveness of your training program.

Get Started with Training that's Effective From The Start

It's clear that measuring the effectiveness of your training will ensure that you are meeting your goals and objectives. The methods of measurement we've outlined can help you get started on determining how well your employees learn from your training initiatives. 

If you're ready for highly effective custom-created training, IRI Consultants specializes in creating training programs that produce results. From leadership to communications, labor relations to sales and customer service, IRI can help you create and measure training for employees and front-line leaders. Contact us today to get started with a training program that truly works for you and your team.

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