Measuring training effectiveness should be part of any training program. What happens in the weeks and months after training reveals whether training has had any lasting changes on your business.

Evaluating training effectiveness helps you find and fix weak areas in your training program while capitalizing on strengths and planning for the future. To make a meaningful, actionable measurement of training’s impact, you need an efficient system of evaluation. Fortunately one exists.

Donald Kirkpatrick developed his four levels of learning evaluation system over forty years ago, but it continues to be used today for one simple reason: it works. Kirkpatrick’s system takes much of the guesswork out of measuring training effectiveness through the gathering of objective data. Here’s how it works.

Stage One: Reaction

Understanding how trainees react to training gives you insight into how much influence training will have on your workforce. A positive learning experience improves trainee motivation and engagement while encouraging the application of learned skills in the work environment.

Watch trainees during the learning process to gauge their reactions. Immediately after training, have trainees provide feedback through a short survey. Use a simple 1-5 scale for questions, where 1 indicated “strongly disagree” and 5 indicates “strongly agree.” Such surveys make it easier to quantify responses. Allow room at the end for trainees to write additional comments and provide more involved feedback.

Stage Two: Learning

In the second stage of Kirkpatrick’s system you start measuring how much trainees actually learned. Evaluating training effectiveness requires a means of comparing knowledge and skill levels before and after instruction. Using pre- and post-knowledge or skill tests helps you measure learning.

If possible, take a scientific approach. Compare trainees to a control group of employees who have yet to take the training course to evaluate training efficiency.

Stage Three: Behavior

New knowledge has no impact on your business unless employee behavior changes after training. Measuring training effectiveness must include an evaluation of how employees use the skills they’ve learned and whether they incorporate those skills into their jobs on a regular basis.

Observe employee behavior prior to training to establish a baseline, then continue making observations for up to four months after training to determine whether training led to short or long-term changes.

Results and ROI

Successful training has a positive impact on more than employee behavior. In the months after training, track changes in areas such as:

  • Absenteeism,
  • Cost reduction,
  • Grievances,
  • Moral,
  • Production,
  • Quality of work,
  • Employee turnover

Track changes in all areas, including labor savings, administration, wages, materials, and generated income.

Data obtained from these observations can be used to determine the return on investment of training sessions. The formula for determining ROI is:

Monetary benefits – training costs x 100 = ROI.

Measuring training effectiveness is easier if you contract training out to experienced instructors who understand both your industry and proper training techniques. The right training program greatly increases your likelihood of discovering a positive ROI while evaluating training effectiveness.


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