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Measuring Benefit of Employee Development Program
Submitted by Leslie Allan on January 14th, 2012
I see a lot of people struggling with how to measure the effectiveness of their training programs. And, of course, there is no “one-size-fits-all” answer as every training program is different. A question that was put to me recently was whether measuring the level of employee retention is a relevant measure of usefulness. To put the question another way, “Is measuring the proportion of employees that stay on with my employer an indicator of the worth of my training program?” This question is usually posed about developmental type programs; that is, programs for which the employer is not expecting to see an immediate boost in work performance.
My first response to this kind of question is that we need to be careful as there are many causes of people staying in their job, other than the developmental program they attended recently. These other influences include factors both external to the organization, such as the current demand for work in the region, and internal factors, such as salary level and group camaraderie. To use this kind of measure effectively, then, you will need to put serious thought into how you will separate out these other non-training influences.
A second aspect you will need to consider is whether you are retaining the right kind of people. The people who are leaving may be the most talented, looking for greener pastures in which to apply their new skills. You may be enticing the people who are the least likely to add value to your organization to stay. So, my advice here is that if you are going to use level of retention as a measuring stick, then only measure the retention of your high performers and those with the most potential.
Think also about whether this should be your primary measure. What, fundamentally, do you want from your programs? If it is to retain employees, then there are other more cost-effective means of getting your people to stay. You may want to improve productivity or efficiency or customer value as your primary goal. In that case, measuring retention may be a worthwhile secondary measure.
Training programs should be primarily targeting improved business results in the longer term. For help with identifying business benefits, I’ve been advocating the Kirkpatrick Four Level model for many years. Looking at the developmental aspects of employee programs, these in particular should be helping your people apply for and win internal promotions or coveted side-ways moves that benefit their career choices. Perhaps measuring the incidence of these moves may be more relevant to measuring retention alone.
In summary, consider what it is you really want to achieve with your development type programs -in concrete terms that will benefit your business. Supplement these measures with one or two specific development type measures that I’ve mentioned here and you are well on your way to rolling out meaningful and useful measures.
Do you need to measure the effectiveness of your training programs and report the results in financial or non-financial terms? Check out Leslie’s comprehensive Training Evaluation Toolkit. Whether you are a novice or experienced professional, this guide and toolkit will walk you through planning your evaluation exercise, collecting all relevant data, isolating non-training factors and then analyzing and reporting the results convincingly to your key stakeholders. The toolkit is packaged with a full set of reusable and customizable Microsoft Word forms and Excel calculation worksheets for all of your measurement and reporting needs. Find out more about Leslie’s Training Evaluation Toolkit and download the free introductory chapter today.