Despite the economic downturn, training and professional development expenses in large companies rose from an average of $17.17 million in 2019 to $22 million in 2020. Similarly, small businesses also increased their investments in training by over $100,000. With so much money being spent, it would be easy to assume that companies of all sizes are seeing clear returns on their investments (ROI). Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. One study found that only 11% of employees actually end up applying the training they receive to their day-to-day work. Why is there such a disparity between spending and results? Is training at work even worth it? The answer is yes, and it’s time for companies to shift their focus to developing a training program with better ROI.
How Training Programs Fall Short
The problem isn’t with training so much as the way many organizations approach developing and implementing a training program. All too often, companies rush into these programs without reflecting on what’s really needed to support their objectives. Consequently, not enough work is done to understand the challenges employees face, how they learn best, and what sort of follow-ups are required.
As an HR leader, you must transition from implementing professional training for training’s sake to analyzing each program’s effectiveness and ROI. Even moving the needle a few percentage points could have a significant impact on employees’ success and your company’s bottom line.
Achieving Better ROI in Professional Training
Putting the focus on ROI isn’t as difficult as you might think. Actually, it just requires a little more planning before rushing into training implementation. The goal is to figure out what training methods work best for your organization and calculate the true costs of that training ahead of time.
Set up key performance indicators to measure the success of training programs. Additionally, employee assessments can be used during the training process to more accurately analyze organizational data and the benefits of training and development. The important thing is to turn training from something good in the abstract to a practical, measurable, and mutually beneficial process.
Focusing on ROI will help you create effective training strategies. With this in mind, here are a few steps that can help you focus on developing training programs with better ROI:
1. Develop an integrated education and talent management framework.
There’s no silver bullet when it comes to the perfect training program, but the right framework can ensure a strategic alignment of objectives and outcomes. Select and align programs to the specific needs of your organization. If you currently have training programs that don’t fit into this new framework, cut them. Every initiative should be moving your employees in the right direction for your business.
2. Create a digital strategy.
Up to 77% of organizations in the U.S. already use e-learning. A digital approach to training is more flexible, easier to access, and more engaging. Today’s digital learning platforms incorporate a variety of different techniques to keep employees interested, including interactive quizzes, videos, and games. Tailor E-learning to each employee’s specific needs as it pertains to their position or role. Using assessments prior to training can better determine individual learners’ needs, motivations, and preferences. Far too often, the learner’s perspective is not captured when it comes to training. The right digital strategies can fix that.
3. Favor flexibility.
Training needs to adapt fast to the changing needs of consumers and the economy itself. The ability to rapidly adjust resources to serve learning needs as they arise is crucial. Locking into a top-down formal approach doesn’t accommodate this. Instead, emphasize flexibility in your content and delivery modes to stay agile.
4. Keep an eye out for silos.
Silos in training can result in duplicate programs and inefficient use of data. So, be sure to thread learning throughout the day-to-day operations of a business so it works alongside its objectives. Many training programs use what’s known as a 70:20:10 learning framework to address this. This means 70% of training occurs while working, 20% happens during collaboration, and 10% takes place through more formal means, such as classroom sessions.
You can reduce the silos that pop up by fostering intentional connections between training programs among different business units and HR programs. This will promote learning networks and help ensure stakeholder alignment when it comes to rollouts. You should also remove the silo between theoretical training and practical application by implementing real-life applications and leadership encouragement.
The Importance of Resiliency
Be sure to implement resiliency alongside other strategies in order to make the most of training. This has become a key human skill across HR departments as agility and adaption have become essential to survival.
Resiliency in the business world means drawing actionable insights out of a variety of different sources. The goal is to be ready to change course quickly while also planning for a longer-term evolution. Effective training strategies should incorporate resiliency in order to prepare employees for real-world work.
Teach your employees resiliency through individual virtual training and group activities. These methods not only help employees learn resiliency, but they also give you a better idea of how each person handles tough situations. From there, you can apply additional training where necessary.
Training is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. Therefore, employers must reevaluate training regularly and adapt it accordingly so that it remains applicable to both your company’s and your employees’ goals. By emphasizing resiliency and focusing on creating flexible, practical training programs, you’ll see better results.