You’ve heard it all before. Training can boost employee productivity, creativity and competitive advantage, which altogether means a return on investment (ROI) that you can be proud of.But, unfortunately, not all training programs live up to their potential. Actually, ineffective training can often have a negative effect on your business’ bottom line.
But it’s not all doom and gloom because training metrics can help you catch those nasty issues before they’re repeated, and improve the value of your training efforts.
Let’s say you’ve created a high-quality online assessment for an eLearning course, but you discover (through training metrics) that learners aren’t performing very well.
Actually, more than 50% of them are doing really badly. You could just ignore this. Or, you could investigate the problem (like maybe the assessment is set at a difficulty level that’s too high for the course), and fix it before the next course goes live.
Now, catching issues before they’re out of control is great, but it’s far from the only advantage of using the right training metrics. Being able to track and measure the effectiveness of your training, and make continuous improvements, results in both a better training experience for your employees and a better ROI.
Know Your Metrics From Your KPIs
Before we dive into the different metrics, let’s take a step back to explain what we really mean when we talk about “metrics”. Metrics have become a buzzword in almost every industry today, to such an extent that the true training metrics definition has become a little cloudy.
Typically, metrics refer to the broad measurement of something and aim for a quantifiable result so that it’s easy to compare with other metrics. For example, a training metric might be used to measure course completion rates for different courses.
On the other hand, Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are a deeper measure of a specific aspect of your training. For example, the percentage improvement in sales staff call numbers after training on new database software. This is why KPIs are often used to implement metrics.
But if you ask us, we prefer to define metrics as quantifiable measures used to track and assess the status of a specific process, or in simpler terms – highly specific measurements.
It’s important to remember that training metrics are no good unless they can actually be measured, either through KPIs or sub-metrics. For example, to “improve sales staff performance” is not a metric by itself. It’s more of a business goal. “Improve sales staff call rates by 25%” is far more measurable!
So, when planning how to measure training effectiveness, keep in mind that the details of each metric you set may require you to establish more detailed KPIs.
What Does Training Effectiveness Mean, Anyway?
Effectiveness in a training context can take a few different forms. A popular angle is a positive return on financial investment. Another is the performance improvement of learners in the training program, like increased productivity or improved teamwork capabilities.
Before starting any training program, make sure that management and other relevant board members have agreed on what is expected from the training program, and how its success should be measured.
While there are many ways to measure training effectiveness, some of the most important training metrics fall into the following categories.
Activity and Engagement Metrics
Given how much time, planning and financial resources are invested in a training program, it’s useful to know that your learners are actually engaging with it.
Because if they’re not engaging, then they’re definitely not learning. And if they’re not learning, then your employees also aren’t getting any closer to those strategic training and development objectives you’ve been shooting for.
Here, some of the areas to track with training metrics include:
- Time spent on each activity: Are learners struggling with a particular activity? Maybe they require more support, or the activity is too difficult?
- Time to complete the course: Are learners taking too long to complete? Is the course too difficult, too easy, or too time-consuming?
- Course completion rates: How many learners are managing to complete the full course?
- Activity completion rates: Which activities aren’t being completed by learners, and why?
- Learner drop-off rates: How many learners aren’t making it to the end of the course?
- Learner drop-off points: Where did the course lose the most learners? Why?
These metrics can be gathered automatically by your Learning Management System (LMS). A top-of-the-line LMS can also generate automatic reports.
These insights can be used to change and test different variations of an eLearning course, and to improve the effectiveness of future training.
Proficiency and Business Impact
Learning new knowledge, skills and behaviors is the primary objective of any training program. Luckily, training metrics related to this objective are relatively easy to calculate.
Pre- and post-tests can be useful for measuring improved knowledge and understanding. Then, to measure how well learners are progressing in their new competency, assessments like quizzes or eLearning simulations can offer timely feedback that helps learners to figure out how well (or not so well) they’re doing.
These are simple but effective metrics for evaluating training and development. That’s the easy part. But measuring the extent to which new knowledge and skills have been practically applied to employees’ jobs or the business, is a little more challenging.
Because having new skills means little if your employees aren’t actually using them! These training metrics measure the impact of training directly on the business:
- Job impact: Have there been changes in productivity, sales, customer service ratings, or operational efficiency? Are employees quicker, more effective, or producing higher quality?
- Time to job impact: How much time lapses between the completion of the eLearning course, and noticeable performance improvement?
- Business impact: Is there a relationship between training, and change in profit, or the achievement of strategic goals? Has there been a decrease in staff turnover?
- Training ROI: Has the cost of developing and/or delivering training reduced, and training ROI improved?
Behavior change can be difficult to measure quantitatively, but sometimes specific performance changes can be measured. For example, in the case of sales staff who were trained on a new database system, the percentage increase in the number of daily customer calls can easily be measured.
While all of the above training metrics are crucial to understanding whether or not your training efforts are paying off (both directly and indirectly), it’s also important to understand how your employees felt about the learning experience.
After all, if they felt that the training was too easy, too difficult, unrelated to their career development goals, or simply boring, they’re unlikely to rate the company’s training programs as one of the highlights of their job. This means that training will fail as a tool for attracting strong recruitment candidates and retaining top talent.
So, how do you go about measuring learning experience? Through surveys and feedback tools that measure user experience. Here, learners are able to rate them:
- quality of learning materials and content
- the relevance of the training
- quality of facilitation (where applicable)
- ease of navigation through the learning path
- appropriateness of assessments
- quality of feedback
- and the eLearning course as an overall experience
Modern eLearning authoring tools make it easy to build surveys into the end of an eLearning course. A quality survey is focused on 20 or less key questions and is built on an easily-interpreted scale, for example, a range from 1=Strongly disagree to 5= Strongly agree.
LMS Metrics to Measure Training Effectiveness
Demonstrating the effectiveness of your training is made much easier by using appropriate training metrics. And, when metrics are used to identify problems and make improvements to the learning experience, you’ll be able to increase the value of training for both learners and the business.
But getting all the measurements you need, at a click of a button, means choosing an LMS with the right tools and features. So make sure that your LMS offers extensive reporting and survey engines that will support your ongoing training measurement and improvement.