How to Measure Training Effectiveness

One of the most important issues in developing a personnel training program is figuring out how to measure training effectiveness. This is an important consideration, because training is essentially a long term investment, and like all investments, it’s important for companies to know exactly what they’re getting for their money.

How to Measure Training Effectiveness

Most training programs have their own methods for self-assessment, but these methods will often vary depending on the needs of the company and the personnel that they are attempting to train. In many cases, training assessment also requires measuring the results of their employee training on several levels by figuring out how their improved skills affects company or office efficiency.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to measure training effectiveness, and they are generally quite easy to implement. However, they must also be treated like research projects, and those who are involved in training assessments should gather and interpret data using strict research disciplines. So if you’re trying to figure out how to measure training effectiveness, here are several options for you to choose from.

Analyze Existing Data 

Tests may seem like the most obvious method for measuring the effectiveness of corporate training, but it isn’t. The truth is that there’s a treasure trove of data on corporate and personnel training from other companies who have implemented extensive training programs in the past. Whether it’s the feasibility of anti-harassment training or the effectiveness of training old personnel to handle new equipment, there’s a very good chance that research data on the topic already exists.

Academic journals, public records and even ordinary articles can provide a wealth of information about the effectiveness of training programs in a corporate environment. They can also tell researchers how well such programs performed in other companies, and how they succeeded in meeting their goals. In certain cases, analyzing existing data can help a company improve its own training programs or, at least, implement assessment tests to better measure their effectiveness.

Needless to say, you can’t actually use data from other training programs (even those from within your own company) to measure the effectiveness of new or upcoming training initiatives. They can, however, give you a general idea about the effectiveness of other training programs, and how well they met their stated goals. This way, you will be able to use their data as the basis for comparison for assessing the effectiveness of current training programs within your company.

Tests and Practical Exams 

The most obvious way to measure training effectiveness is to simply test it. It’s not unusual for employee training programs to use tests to certify the skills of their participants, and for the most part, such tests are really quite effective. They can take the form of a written exam, practical tests or anything that would best serve the needs of the training program.

In addition to their efficacy, it’s also worth mentioning that tests can be implemented quite easily, with very minimal costs in terms of man power, time or resources. Also, unlike other methods for measuring the effectiveness of employee training, exams can be performed regularly, and without extensive oversight from managerial personnel. They can be implemented with nothing more than the participation of company specialists or the local HR staff.

Tests and practical exams are also needed for handing out certifications to participating personnel, provide data on how well trainees understand their lessons and, of course, measure the effectiveness of the entire training program in meeting its stated goals. The only limitation in this approach, however, is that tests usually cannot measure how well trained personnel apply their skills in their actual work. Despite this slight flaw, however, almost all training programs have their own built-in exams to measure the effectiveness of their training modules.

Reviews

Another way to measure training effectiveness is through staff reviews. Not all reviews need to tackle the issue of training proficiency or skill retention, but it is always a popular option. Having said that, staff reviews are important for several reasons. They help measure worker productivity, gather input and complaints from personnel, help introduce new initiatives to the workforce and, of course, measure the effectiveness of previous training programs.

A review basically looks at worker performance. In the case of training effectiveness, they look at the performance of trained personnel in their present duties, and compare that data to their performance when they had not yet undergone training. What this basically means is that reviews allow managers and executives to measure the effectiveness of employee training on a long term basis.

Furthermore, staff reviews are done on a regular basis, which means that the organizational and support work is already in place, so they are often easier to implement than tests or full-scale assessments. In other words, these reviews don’t have to be done from scratch, and most personnel are already aware of when and how they happen, so they are less likely to disrupt everyone’s schedules.

Special Projects 

A less conventional way to measure the effectiveness of training programs is through the creation of special projects. These projects usually require specialized personnel, so those who have undergone the appropriate training are the best candidates for this kind of work. Although such projects are not always meant to provide data about the effectiveness of employee training program, they do help to evaluate the skills and expertise of trained personnel under actual working conditions.

In this sense, special projects can sometimes be more effective at measuring each personnel’s skills and abilities than tests or practical exams, since they are based on actual performance, instead of controlled measurements, like tests. Like tests, however, actual research data must be gathered from these projects before they can provide any insight on training effectiveness. This is why special projects often include assessments teams which measure the progress of participating personnel, and who then relate the resulting data to their training and competency.

Conclusion

The effectiveness of training programs need to be quantified in order to justify their value to the company. Fortunately, there are plenty of methods by which to do this, and accurate performance data is always important in measuring the effectiveness of any employee training program. So in figuring out how to measure training effectiveness, it’s important to remember that the goal is to measure worker productivity.

Jason Silberman
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog
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