Measuring Training by Focusing on Business Results and Alignment

Investment in training is often seen as money well spent. But boosting employee skills means little unless there is evidence of how this is impacting upon the bottom line.

Research conducted in the UK by KnowledgePool last year found a quarter of all training undertaken doesn't yield any noticeable business improvement.

This would be a concern at the best of times, but in the context of reduced budgets and a renewed focus on HR to contribute strategically to the business, the figure should set alarm bells ringing.

And these figures only relate to the people who actually take the time to measure the results of their training efforts.

Further research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development showed one in six organizations do not fully evaluate learning, with the most common evaluations identified as "happy sheets".

Linking Training With Business Performance

Creating a training program which aligns with business performance should start with two key questions; where does the business want to be and what skills will be needed to get it there.
Throughout the process, the focus should be on what fits with the goals of the organization and how people can take the skills they have learned and apply them to their daily tasks.

Line managers have an important role to play in this, as their in depth knowledge of the working environment is essential in ensuring the training is relevant to employees.

"When learners do receive line manager support, 94 percent go on to apply what they learned. There's a positive correlation between the transfer of learning to the workplace, line manager support and performance improvement," Kevin Lovell, learning strategy director at KnowledgePool, explained.

Once training has been completed, participants should be encouraged to monitor how they are using their new skills and the actual results the training brings about should be measured against the expectations set out at the beginning of the project.

"The data can help you to spot trends in particular courses, or specific areas of your business, and target areas of concern. By taking action, British companies can enhance the performance of their learners and gain 25 percent more value from their learning spend," Lovell added.

Industry Examples

Each business will have different needs for their training, meaning a one-size-fits-all approach to aligning learning with business performance is simply not an option.

For insurance company LV= Broker, the answer to its needs was the creation of a "Leadership Curriculum," which was designed to ensure each member of staff was getting the specific training they need to meet the objectives of their business unit for the next five years.

The program encompasses one-to-one sessions, classroom learning and online resources.

David Smith, the company’s HR director, said: "LV= Broker is a diverse business made up of eleven operational teams which each have different skills needs, from operational support through to technical underwriting."

Commenting on the structure of the new curriculum, he said: "The modules include: team based problem solving, time management, presentation training, team motivation, influencing skills, stakeholder mapping, compliance, project management and software skills, among others."

Meanwhile, Alcatel-Lucent opted for a performance management solution from Taleo to identify skills gaps within its workforce and provide the training needed to help the company remain ahead in the competitive communications industry.

The platform is intended to offer an easy-to-use format, which will lead to higher rates of user adoption, while quantifying the skills the company has at its disposal to help support its business growth.

In addition, the system measures the impact any training has on the company's 70,000 global employees.

Our pilot project to test the solution also proved to be very successful. Talent Intelligence gives us a very powerful strategic platform for the management of talent at Alcatel-Lucent," said Laurent Geoffroy, vice president of human resources, systems, process and information at Alcatel-Lucent.