The training costs are significant for any business. The employers mostly incur these costs because they expect and anticipate their business to benefit from the development and progress of the employees. Although the senior management executives value training because they believe it strengthens the organization and serves as a retention tool, not many are clear on how to measure the effectiveness or return on the investment for the training imparted. To perceive as to what extent the business has benefited, evaluation of the training is necessary. Training evaluation helps to:
- track the progress and development of employees and their skills
- identify training gaps and understand future training needs.
- verify if the training inputs are being applied at the workplace and
- to see whether the investment made was worthwhile
However, training evaluation is not just to trace whether the performance has been improved or new skills have been learnt appropriately. Meaningful and precise information can be gathered only when the effectiveness of the training is measured which explores the facets of improvement and the precise profit gained. Specific objectives need to be set before the training. Say, the organization may want to increase the productivity and efficiency of a particular process or function, increase workforce motivation and to ensure repeat business by way of regular customers. Then you need to decide the method of measuring the objectives. Quantifiable objectives are easy to measure such as number of units produced or number of repeat customers gained. Objectives related to behavior and quality is much difficult. Say suppose, you want to measure the staff satisfaction, you may consider attributes like performance levels, engagement in effective teamwork, leaves taken by the employee etc.
To attain the data for qualitative assessment; feedback from colleagues, managers and co-workers can be used. This would include devising and drafting a questionnaire to collate specific information.
Each objective should be expressed in financial terms by considering the cost of the desired outcome of the training. These may include business profit made, productivity increased, time saved etc. You also need to ensure that the objectives are achievable and realistic. Unrealistic objectives may lead to demotivation of the workforce and decline in productivity. Measurements should be taken before, during and after the training program to effectively help the trainees in identifying their goals. The same should be re-evaluated at periodic intervals to see that the improved skills and standards are being continuously applied and maintained at the workplace.
One of the most popular methods for measuring training effectiveness was developed by Donald Kirkpatrick. This model articulates a four-step process:
Level 1: Reactions
The participant’s reaction to the training programme is measured. This is measured through the use of feedback forms. It explores the level of learner satisfaction.
Level 2: Participant learning
At this level, changes pertaining to skill and knowledge are measured. These changes can be attributed to training. Pre-test and post-test measures are utilized to check and verify the learning that has occurred. Measuring the training effectiveness at this level is very significant since it gives an indication about the change occurred vis-à-vis the training objectives that were set.
Level 3: Transfer of learning
The application of learning at the work front is measured, which might be a daunting task since it’s not easy to define standards which can be utilized to measure the application of the learning at the workplace. Inputs and views can come at this level from the participants of the training programme by way of feedback on their application of skills on the work front. This can be obtained few weeks after the training programme so to allow the participants sufficient time to implement what had been learnt during the programme. Their inputs can really indicate the causes of success and failure at this level.
Level 4: Results
The effectiveness of the programme in terms of business objectives is measured. At this level, aspects such as increase in functioning or productivity, decrease in mistakes and errors etc is looked upon.
To conclude, it is very important for the organizations to institute effective indicators to measure the levels of performance.