How to Measure the ROI in Training

Training and development have become ever more important as companies face significant skills gaps during this rapidly changing business environment.

How will you know if your training meets the skills gaps and generates the desired impacts to make your company successful?

The original model of training evaluation developed by Raymond Katzell suggested that training should be evaluated in four steps:

Step 1: Measure reaction.

Step 2: Measure learning.

Step 3: Measure behavior.

Step 4: Measure results.

This is the model that Kirkpatrick promoted for many years. Dr. Jack Phillips, the author or editor of more than 100 books, went further to define the methodology and add another step. He, with many other practitioners, began to call these levels. These levels of evaluation are

Level 1 – At level one, the results of training are assessed based on participants’ reactions to the training and the action plan submitted by the participants. This is commonly done immediately after the training.

Level 2 – At level two, the results of training are assessed by how much learning is acquired by participants. This is done by conducting some form of testing.

Level 3 – At level three, the training evaluator will find out if the acquired skills, knowledge, or attitude (SKA) are applied and implemented by the trainees. This is usually done several weeks or months after training.

Level 4 – At level four, evaluators assess the impact, both tangible and intangible, of the training several weeks or months after the training. Examples of tangible impacts are cost savings, higher productivity, better quality, sales increase, etc. Examples of intangible benefits are attitude improvement, better communication, etc.

Level 5 – At level five, evaluators measure the return on investment of training or any other people development program.

Phillips went on to develop process standards and pushed the methodology through the ROI Certification process. Today, over two-thirds of the Fortune 500 companies use this methodology, 26 governments around the world, many NGOs, non-profits, approximately 300 health care organizations, and 150 universities. It is now the most used evaluation system in the world.

ROI is an important measure that is used to show the efficient use of funds. Management is interested in ROI as it compares the actual monetary benefits of the training program relative to the total costs of the training.

STEPS TO MEASURE THE ROI

Here are the steps to measure the ROI of a training program.

  1. Design the training based on business needs.
  2. Plan the training to be evaluated at all levels.
  3. Design the training such the skills, knowledge, or attitude taught can be applied and implemented on the job.
  4. Collect Level 1 data – reactions and action plans of trainees- at the end of training.
  5. Collect Level 2 data – learning – at the end of training.
  6. Collect Level 3 data – application and implementation – several weeks or months after training.
  7. Collect Level 4 data – Both the tangible business impacts and the intangible impacts – several weeks or months after training.
  8. Isolate the effect of the program by identifying other factors that may impact the outcomes of the program. This is a critical aspect in producing credible ROI results.
  9. Convert Level 4 data into monetary values of the training benefits.
  10. Annualize the monetary values to determine the monetary benefit of the training over 12 months.
  11. Collect data on the total costs of training.
  12. Calculate the ROI using this formula.  ROI = (Benefits – Costs)/Costs x 100%

THE BENEFITS OF MEASURING ROI

As the need for skill-building is increasing and the training budget is getting bigger, it is important to know whether you are getting positive values from your investment in training.

When you have the ROI data to prove to management the value of your training, you will get more supports for the training programs you plan conduct in the future.

Dr. Jack J. Phillips is the pioneer in measuring the ROI in training. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Jack Phillips and Dr. Patti Phillips have trained and certified thousands of training professionals on the ROI Methodology. More than two-thirds of the Fortune 500 companies are applying this methodology in the training they conduct.  

How about your organization? Does your management ask you to measure the ROI or financial benefits of your training programs? Have you done this before? Do you have the competency and confidence to do it?

Finally, it is important the ROI result you come out with is correct and credible. As the implementation in each step of the measuring process can be quite involved, you need to fully understand the whole process of ROI measurement.

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