Management has started an initiative to increase training in your company, and you have been designated the task to develop a strong program. Now, what? In addition to creating a training program, you must also measure the impact. Impact evaluation is essential to determine return on investment. In order to truly measure the impact of learning, it is important to start before the training begins. Although evaluation is vital, most organizations fail to measure the impact of training. A recent study states that 96% of of learning and development leaders are searching for ways to improve data gathering and analysis on training and only 17% currently measure impact. With only 17% actively tracking the progress of their training programs, the other 83% of companies do not have sufficient data to prove the importance of training to management. So, how do you truly measure the impact of corporate training?
Donald Kirkpatrick created this evaluation model for corporate training in 1959, which was published in the US Training and Development Journal. He was the president of the American Society for Training and Development. The four levels are: reaction, learning, behavior, and results.
The first, and easiest level to measure, is the reaction. In this level, employees are evaluated to determine the responses to their training. Corporate training may consist of elearning, instructor-led training, or blended training in order to improve employee knowledge. Such evaluation includes gaining insight on whether participants found the training to be relevant, valuable, or engaging. It consists of asking participants what they thought about the training, either through a survey or a follow-up conversation after the training. This allows the training manager to evaluate whether the training was worth the investment, any necessary improvement, and the effectiveness of training from the participants’ perspective.
Next, is the learning evaluation, which is the degree to which participants learned intended knowledge from the training. In this evaluation, the training program managers will determine if training objectives are met. To successfully evaluate this step, the manager must conduct pre and post evaluation of the participants’ knowledge and skill level. For example, if an employee is taking a training course for Microsoft Office, create a pre-evaluation of the current skill level. At the end of the course, either create a post-evaluation or compare the results with the course’s assessment (if provided). This will give the manager an understanding of participant improvement.
One aspect is learning the new skills, but true impact occurs in the application of the training. This evaluation involves behavioral changes as a result of training. Training managers must discover whether or not training is being applied on the job by participants. In order to determine the impact on behavior, pre and post measurement of behavior must be completed. The best way to evaluate this level is to conduct surveys and interviews over time that tracks employee behavioral changes. This level consists of observation, and it is likely that the employee’s supervisor will be involved in the survey and interview process as well.
The most difficult impact to measure is the results. This top tier level evaluates the tangible results the company received from the training program, such as decreased costs, improved quality, increased productivity, increase in sales, higher employee retention, and others. This is the most important measurement but gets the least attention. In this tier ROI is determined. Pre and post-measurement of training objective is necessary to determine value. The focus on the results tier is to determine whether the training goal or objective was met and the impact that it has on the company.
All four of these evaluations are necessary to determine the value of corporate training. A strong training program is born out of attention and effort. It is necessary to have strong sight of direction for the program in order to propel the company forward. There must be an understanding of the context of the program, goals, planned offerings, potential barriers, impact, and tactics to create the most effective training program. Apply these tips to improve your training program and propel your company forward!