Like many people at this time of year, I'm in 'reflection mode', reviewing the many decisions made this year and grouping them into 'very good ones', 'not so good ones' and 'really bad ones' so that I can learn from mistakes and build plans for next year.
On the topic of learning, one area that I have been looking at is training. Like the marketing budget, the training budget is often thought of as a discretionary spend that can easily be cut when the going gets tough. Thought best practice encourages businesses to continue to invest in training & development during hard times so that skills are in place when things improve; in practice, this can be hard to justify when revenues and profits are going south.
So how do you assess the return on learning?
Assessing the return on a training course isn't that difficult. After each training course, attendees are given a feedback form which will invariably assess the trainer, the pace, the quality of the materials and so on. This feedback will help trainers and managers understand how much attendees think they will use what they've learnt in the workplace. However, as anyone who has ever been on a training course will know, just because attendees had a great time, loved the trainer and thought the materials were first class, does not mean that it will impact their work performance at all!
To get to the true ROI of training, you need to be able to evaluate the learning that takes place and how much has been applied on the job, something which obviously can't be assessed until weeks or months after the training has finished. This is a much more difficult task, but is really important.
Knowledge Pool ran a survey across many different training courses in ten different types of organisations: central government, customer service, engineering, local government, IT Services, manufacturing and media. They received over 1,000 responses and found that 70% of training course attendees do apply their learning to the workplace.
This is encouraging. They also found that if you're a manager, you have a key role to play as 53% of the learners in the survey got line manager support to help apply their learning. The importance of line manager support in the transfer of knowledge to the workplace was also supported by research by the Marketing Leadership Council who found that manager support is one of three critical priorities for driving learning application.
Moreover, the Marketing Leadership Council also found that employees of managers who are very effective at development outperform their peers by up to 25% (source: Learning & Development Roundtable). With this in mind, it's no coincidence that the areas that are likely to see an increase in training demand in 2012 are Leadership development and New Manager training.
What are the benefits of training & development
The Marketing Leadership Council also found that where learning is applied, training results in three main benefits:
- more engaged and committed employees who perform at a higher level
- employees who are more likely to stay with the organization, building the knowledge
pool and reducing the cost of recruiting new staff
- more confident employees who are able to do their jobs faster and more easily
Encourage sharing will increase the ROI further
One final point to bear in mind when it comes to increasing the return on a training investment, is to encourage those who have benefited from structured training to share their new ideas, tools and techniques with their colleagues. There are many ways to do this from workshops to webcasts, blogs and forums. In today's digital world, sharing is far easier and quicker than ever before.