Measuring Training Effectiveness

Kent Peterson ·

Jul 12, 2019

Could an aspiring runner ever become a record-breaking champion if she never kept track of how far and fast she runs while training? Probably not. Great athletes know that consistently tracking results is how they measure progress. That’s equally true in the business world, where measuring training effectiveness is essential to success.


Once you know how your workplace training programs are performing, you can tell whether they are doing enough to help your organization achieve its business goals. This article will help you do both.

The Growing Role of Training

simon-abrams-k_T9Zj3SE8k-unsplash-minE-learning, lectures, coaching, classwork, hands-on training...have you ever thought about how many different kinds of training your organization conducts (or should)? They add up quickly. In today’s rapidly changing workplace, training needs have increased substantially with no end to this trend in sight.


Training needs vary from one firm to the next and between different areas of the same firm. Here are a few of the most common reasons for training:


  • Onboarding new employees
  • Training new hires on their job tasks
  • Helping employees learn more about their company's products and services
  • Training on compliance matters
  • Teaching a technical team how to use a new tool
  • Preparing an individual for promotion by teaching new skills


Fortunately, training is becoming simpler to do as the demand for training rises. Technology can put powerful training tools such as an LMS platform in the hands of leaders, managers, and HR professionals, enabling even beginners to create an effective training program that is tailored to your firm’s needs.


The benefits of technology don’t stop there. HR professionals who oversee their firm’s employee skill assessments and training needs can save time and effort by replacing spreadsheets with a cloud-based HR management system.




How Measuring Training Effectiveness Helps

The fundamental goal of all workplace training is to give employees the skills and knowledge they need to perform their best. But some training programs produce better results than others. Just because employees were taught, doesn’t mean they learned—or applied what they learned.


That’s where training evaluation comes in. By evaluating the process and results of your training program, you get a clear picture of what the training actually accomplished. Then you can use those training effectiveness metrics to refine what’s working well and fix what isn’t. The old saying is certainly true in this case: what gets measured gets improved.


Measuring training effectiveness can also help you prove the ROI of your organization’s training program. It’s difficult to argue against hard data that shows how more effective training led to increased performance, revenue, and growth.

Training evaluation is the key to unlocking the benefits of training—and effective training does much more than teach people facts:


  • It enlightens, empowers, and motivates employees
  • It helps employees gain greater understanding, make more valuable contributions, and perform their best
  • It’s an important part of performance management that gives employees the meaningful growth opportunities they crave to advance in their careers


Does your organization’s training deliver all this? You can’t know without measuring the results.

How to Measure Training Effectiveness


Measuring training effectiveness doesn’t necessarily require lots of time or money. That’s welcome news for any organization, especially small businesses on limited budgets. With a little planning and forethought, you’ll soon be on your way.


Tip: When you set out to develop a new training program, begin at the end. That is, decide first what you want the training results to be. Once you define what success looks like, it will help you know what to measure and how to measure it.


Your desired results should include both training goals and business goals, and these goals should always align. For example, a call-center helpline sets a business goal of successfully answering 15 percent more customer queries than last year. To do that, the aligned training goal states that each operator will complete an online course in using improved call-center software.


Training evaluation metrics may include both quantitative data, such as completion rates and quiz scores, and qualitative data, such as learner feedback on whether the training met their needs and led to changed workplace behaviors.


Which goals and metrics should your organization use? That takes careful thought on your part. The best ways to define success and track progress vary with the unique needs and characteristics of each organization and training program.  


Here are some additional tools for measurement to consider:


  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Individual interviews
  • On-the job observation
  • Self-assessment questionnaires
  • Peer and manager feedback
  • Certification exams


When should you measure the impact of training? Before, during, and after the training happens:


  • Before training begins, gather baseline data for each metric you’ll measure. You can’t know how far you’ve come without knowing where you started.


  • During training, feedback and quizzes can help you know whether learners understand the material and are making satisfactory progress.


  • After training, measure twice: immediately after, to see how much was learned, and several weeks later, to see whether the information was remembered and had the desired effects.


Tip: Let technology do the heavy lifting. When it comes to training reports, there’s no faster, simpler way to monitor and optimize your training program than LMS analytics.

The Kirkpatrick Model of Training Effectiveness


To help you organize what you’ll measure and how you’ll measure it, consider using the Kirkpatrick Model. It’s one of the most popular and enduring methods of evaluating training effectiveness. The Kirkpatrick Model measures the value of training using four levels:


1. Reaction: how participants felt about the value of the training


2. Learning: whether participants acquired the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence and commitment from the training


3. Behavior: how much participants applied what they learned when they returned to work


4. Results: the degree to which targeted outcomes occurred


Tip: Before you launch a new training course, test it on a small group of your target learners. Their data and feedback can help you fine-tune it for your larger audience.

But don’t stop there. Every successful training program can benefit from continuing reevaluation and refinement. Your metrics will not only measure your learners’ progress, they will reveal strengths and weaknesses of the training itself, showing you where it can be further improved.


Benefits of Effective Training

There is always more to learn about training and performance management. The rewards are more than worth the effort. You’ve seen here how more effective training evaluation can help your organization nail its key performance indicators. There are also powerful people benefits that are just as important.


Because today’s workers value training so highly, a more effective training program can make your organization a more desirable place to work. As you help your employees learn and grow in meaningful ways, you also achieve important business goals such as attracting top talent, improving employee engagement and performance, and reducing turnover. Everyone wins.


Just as a determined athlete tracks her performance to achieve greater results, proven training evaluation techniques can help your employees become champions. See you in the winner’s circle!


A Note from Northpass

With the right technology partners in place, your training program will be off to the races. Northpass makes it easy to create, deliver, and measure a world-class training program. We also integrate seamlessly with BambooHR and other key partners, which means a more efficient workflow for both you and your learners.


Book a demo today to learn how Northpass can help take your training to the next level.


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About the Author

Kent Peterson

Kent Peterson is a writer at BambooHR, the leading human resources software solution for small and medium businesses. He has also created award-winning work in television and radio.

Read more from Kent Peterson

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