We’re at the end of the year, budgets are being reviewed and set for 2020. And, in most organisations training budgets are, at least in some part, determined by the ROI on the previous year - a sensible way to assess whether they’re investing in what’s right for the organisation. Yet, most businesses find it difficult to quantify how much training costs.
When you account for time taken out of the office versus the impact training has on productivity after it’s taken place it’s difficult to get to an accurate number. You’d be forgiven for taking a more ‘gut feel’ approach to measuring ROI on training. However, with more and more technology entering the training market, it is becoming possible to measure your return on investment; something we spent countless hours working on at Saberr before taking our people development platform, CoachBot, to market.
Like any other tool or process we should be able to evaluate the effectiveness of training and ensure it’s having a positive impact on our businesses and our teams. So how can we measure and improve the ROI?
Humans forget an average of 50% of any new information within an hour. Which suggests that very little is retained the day after training. Companies that invest in training their managers and employees do so with the best intentions - to ensure their workforce is highly skilled. However, the way training is delivered probably means that the majority of organisations aren’t getting the outcomes they expect.
Learning in the flow of work means that new information and skills can be tried and tested straight away. Applying what’s been learned in day to day work not only helps improve adoption, it helps teams adapt quickly, keep up with change and solve problems at the point of need. So, instead of long, intensive training courses encourage regular, on the job micro learning for more effective outcomes.
Off-sites have the benefit of removing distractions of day to day work during training but costs can quickly mount up. Travel, room hire, catering and the cost of a trainer all need to be budgeted for and that’s before considering the costs associated with time out of the business which can quickly escalate; especially if you’re training senior teams.
We’ve already learned that there are benefits in continuous learning in terms of retention, but there are also huge benefits in terms of cost. Research from LinkedIn supports the benefits of keeping training in the office. It found that 49% of workers would prefer to learn in the flow of work and 58% want to learn at their own pace.
Happier people are about 12% more productive. A study from the University of Warwick highlights an important link between happiness and productivity. While this might not seem an obvious route to improve return of your training budget, happier employees tend to have lower levels of absence and turnover. So, instead of investing in formal training, ask if you might see better outcomes from focussing on employee engagement.
Look for tools that combine employee engagement and a regular team pulse with coaching to help you identify where to focus your team development. As a result of taking a broader approach you should see better retention of skills, falling recruitment and on boarding costs and, therefore, more budget for continuous learning - creating a positive loop of low turnover and high ROI.
Finding time to learn can be the biggest barrier to effective training, especially when teams are learning in the flow of work. Taking some time away from ‘business as usual’ tasks to facilitate learning should be encouraged. It’s a challenge for us all - according to Bersin by Deloitte the average employee has only 24 minutes a week for formal learning.
Given that “94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development” managers should try to create an environment where it’s ok to spend an hour reading to learn - especially if it’s related to an upcoming task or project.
Shifting from traditional classroom training to learning in the flow of work doesn’t mean it should be less formal. New leadership development tools like CoachBot ensure that teams are taking part in continuous learning with regular nudges for managers and teams to remind them to take that all important time out to learn. It can also help managers facilitate their own team development with guided sessions developed alongside expert coaches.
At an organisational level, companies who implement learning in the flow of work should still be able to track participation, popular learning or trending topics and take the pulse of their teams. With new tools and a different approach, organisations should be able to measure training, performance improvement, engagement and the impact all of this has on business outcomes leading to a more effective and valuable learning and development programme.