5 Ways to Improve the ROI of Training Programs

February 4, 2021

Improve ROI of training

Securing the right amount of budget for learning and development can be tough. After all, training budgets are often determined by the ROI on the previous year, which isn't always the easiest metric to determine.

But even once you have, you're then often faced with the challenge of actually improving the ROI of your learning and development programs, something that isn't helped by the fact that much of what is learnt is very quickly forgotten.

It's also increasingly difficult to offer training opportunities to employees across the organization - particularly with more and more teams working remotely. Oh, and it can be very expensive.

So, how do you improve the ROI of training? In other words, how can you improve the effectiveness of your learning and development programs?

In this article, we've outlined five ways to do just that.

Not sure how to measure the ROI of L&D? We've covered everything you need to know here.

How to improve training effectiveness

1. Champion continuous learning 

As humans, we forget 50% of the information we obtain within an hour. Which suggests that very little is retained the day after training. Which also means that you're probably not getting the outcomes you'd expect from your L&D programs. 

The problem is, if you want to develop both your managers and the teams they lead, and ultimately ensure your workforce is highly skilled, this training is fundamental.

Catch-22 right?

Not necessarily. At least not if you can make learning 'stick'.

So, how exactly do you do this? And more importantly, how can you maximise the ROI of your training programs? 

In short, by enabling on-the-job learning. Otherwise known as continuous learning. 

This type of training enables employees to gain knowledge and learn new skills, as well as practice and apply these learnings all in the flow of work. It is quite simply learning by doing. 

Applying what’s been learned in day-to-day work not only helps improve adoption, but it also helps teams adapt quickly, keep up with change, and solve problems at the point of need. So, instead of long, intensive training courses, you should be encouraging regular, on the job micro learning for more effective outcomes. 

2. Think twice before an offsite 

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.‍

3. Improve employee satisfaction

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 focusing 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. ‍

4. Let them learn

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.‍

5. Provide tools to facilitate learning and measure impact 

Shifting from traditional classroom-based training, to learning in the flow of work doesn’t mean it should be less formal.

New leadership development tools like the Saberr Platform 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 organizational 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, organizations 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.

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