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How to Track and Measure Employee Training Progress

You know the value in training, but do you actually track and measure your employee learning program? As valuable as training is, if you don’t know who has taken the training, how it was absorbed and by what date the training was completed, you are missing valuable information about your training program. 

According to HR Exchange Network, training touches every aspect of a company, its employees and extends to its profit margins. Here are some statistics they gathered.

  • 68 percent of employees say training and development is the company’s most important policy
  • 74 percent of employees don’t believe they are reaching their full potential
  • 76 percent of employees are looking for career growth opportunities
  • 24 percent higher profit margins can be the result of companies who invest in training
  • 40 percent of employees with poor training will leave the company within the first year
  • Only 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged
  • More than $500 billion is lost every year due to employee disengagement 

Besides these statistics, how else can tracking and measuring employee training help? Here are some benefits using key performance indicators.

Why track employee training progress?

You may ask, why do I really need to track employee training? Isn’t it enough to administer the training? While yes you are correct, training as you can see from the statistics is important, but finding out what is working and what is not is just as beneficial. That way, you can fine tune and offer even better training to all employees. So here are some added benefits you may not have considered.

1. Improves training

As we’ve touched upon, tracking and measuring employee training can show where weak spots are within your training. It can also show where certain modules may be falling short. Just like any business plan, your training plan should be fluid and you should note what areas can be improved. And tracking training is a valuable tool to know where to make these changes.

2. Maintains top talent

Everyone wants to learn and become more marketable. If an employee feels the training is falling short, they leave for a competitor. So if you don’t want to lose your top talent then investing time and energy into measuring your training is vital. It can show you what training is missing from your current program and uncover additional training that employees feel is missing. 

3. Keeps employees engaged

The longer you have employees at your company, the easier their day to day job functions become. However, with some employees they become complacent and begin to check out. Soon their engagement and level of commitment decreases. A great way to counteract this is with training. By finding out what skills and training will make them even more effective on the job, you give them new tools to re-engage them. Measuring training can uncover what seasoned employees need more for continued learning

4. Helps recruit new employees

By tracking employee training, you can refine and add additional learning modules. And when you increase and diversify your training program, you make it more robust. This becomes a great tool when recruiting new employees. If you are known as the industry standard for constantly refreshing employees’ skill sets, you have a better opportunity to gain the top employees.

5. Fosters communication

Some employees feel training is a burden. Others see the value, but are not fully invested. By measuring employee training, you can see if employee attitudes tie to the training you created. And this creates good corporate communication by asking your employees for training feedback. In other words, if employees feel they have a hand in what their training will be, they are more likely to be invested in taking the training. 

6. Maintains new standards and procedures

Whether you have new compliance laws or a new product launch with intricate details, training is the key to getting up to speed quickly. If when you measure your employee training it shows low scores in a certain area, you know that more time needs to be spent on learning these new standards or procedures. It acts as checks and balances for daily operations within your organization.

KPIs for tracking and measuring employee training

Now that you know some of the benefits, how do you actually track employee training? One of the ways is using key performance indicators. If you are not familiar with key performance indicators or KPIs, they are used to measure business success points. They can similarly be used to track and measure employee training. You can use these at the beginning of courses, in the middle and at the end. That way you have a good indication of how courses are being viewed, absorbed and used by your employees. Plus, this adds quantification to employee training patterns you may be witnessing. 

There are a few employee training KPIs you should put in place to help you track employee progress. Here are the steps to follow.

1. Training fulfillment percentage

This KPI determines how many employees actually finish a course. This is a telling number because if it is low, it could indicate disinterest or the fact that the material was too complex to understand. Plus, a higher number indicates that employees found the course helpful whereas a low number, the exact opposite. Either way, this is helpful to track and measure during employee training.

2. Average course scores

By taking the average scores, you can tell how well the material is being absorbed. A higher average indicates a better understanding of the material overall. A lower score could indicate the material is too confusing and needs to be reworked. 

3. Job skill 

If a course is directed at learning one or a handful of key skills, you can evaluate how well employees are picking up these new skills. For example, if a communication assessment is low scoring, it could indicate the need for additional training modules to strengthen this skill. Or you can also evaluate this by department or job function. If for example you need to hire new IT employees, you may be able to do so internally judging from how well others score in transferable skills. 

4. Course participation

You might assign training to all employees, but who actually completes it and on time? This important KPI tells you how well your course participation is overall. If you create engaging training and no one takes it, it’s not effective. If you find low scores, you can find out why employees are not following through. 

5. Time spent on training

It’s important to note how much time is being spent in training by your employees. For example, if courses are being done too quickly, this could indicate the material was too vague or maybe there were not enough assessments throughout the course. On the other side, if courses are taking a long time then maybe the material needs to be broken into smaller training sessions or the material is too confusing for your employees to understand. Either way this is a vital KPI to track for employee training.

6. Time spent in each module

Chances are your training sessions are broken into different sections. By assessing each module, you can find out if one section is more difficult than the others based on the amount of time spent on each section. That way instead of modifying an entire training course, you only have to fix certain sections, saving you time and resources. 

7. Satisfaction ratings

After you have an employee complete a training course, it’s a good idea to get instant feedback. For example, how well did the employee feel the course covered the material? Was the course design engaging? Do they feel they will use what was learned? All this feedback will further refine your training program. 

The Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model for accurate measurement

The best framework to use KPIs in to measure training success is with the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model. This model was developed by University of Wisconsin Professor Donald Kirkpatrick in the 1950s. It involves an easy four-step approach and remains today one of the best ways to track and measure employee training. Here are those steps.

1. Reaction

The first step is reaction. This measures how learners respond to training, how relevant it is to their daily work lives and how useful they find it. You should ask employees during this step to gage their reaction. For example, surveys, questionnaires or simply talking to select employees before training begins and once it concludes to get feedback. Some questions you may ask are:

  • Did the employees like the training?
  • Was it a good use of their day?
  • Was the level of participation doable?
  • Did employees find training valuable?
  • Was it easy to start the training and to take the courses?

2. Learning

During step two, you discover what was actually learned by the employees through training. This is where you can incorporate your KPIs mentioned above. As a reminder, average test scores, how well the material was absorbed, course completion and how fast employees took the assigned training modules. Some questions you would ask could be:

  • Did employees learn what the modules intended?
  • Did employees get the learning experience that was set?
  • How did the employees change once they took the training?

3. Behavior

Behavior is how the training has changed an employee once back on the job. This can be tested through self assessment questionnaires, informal feedback from peers, focus groups, on-the-job observations and looking at customer service surveys if these are sales personnel. A few questions to ask include:

  • Did employees use the training when back at work?
  • Was their noticeable change in employee behavior?
  • Could one employee teach another the skills he or she learned?

4. Results

Lastly, you want to measure the results. This will include answering key questions like:

  • Were cost savings incurred as a result of the training?
  • Did productivity as a company-wide effort increase?
  • Are you retaining more of your top talent?
  • Is employee satisfaction better?
  • Are your customers happier?

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Tools for employee training tracking

Once you create benchmarks for measuring your training program, you may wonder what tools are available to track employee progress. That’s why we pulled together a list of tracking tools to consider.

Learning management system 

Probably the easiest way to track employees and learning progress is through a learning management system or LMS for short. An LMS started as a response for companies needing control over the learning process. Over time, LMS have become a system for not only organizing learning modules, but with built-in analytics to figure out how well the training is being absorbed. The nice aspect of an LMS is it not only implements training, but also reports how the training is going. So it makes for an all-in-one employee training system.

Training management system

A training management system or TMS is an enterprise software system for training purposes within an organization. It helps to optimize performance in both management and instructor-led courses. It differs from an LMS because it focuses on management of in-person training and back-office processes. It’s also geared toward administrators and less on the learners themselves. However, it can also be used for tracking training from a business side like managing session plans, budgeting and creating business intelligence reports.

Excel or Google

A simple solution for measuring employee training would be to use an Excel spreadsheet or Google sheets. Although cost effective, it’s also a bit disjointed. However, it can be used to capture these training results. Just make sure you have one point person to record this data so key numbers are not missed. 

Putting it all together

Now that you know how to track and measure employee training, you’ll want to see what works for your own company. For example, if budget is an issue, maybe you focus on a couple of KPIs and gage how well training is functioning in a few areas. Wherever you choose to start, some measuring is better than simply guessing at work will work or what will not work. In the end you want to keep your employees engaged, motivated and stay on the forefront of your industry. And refining your training program based on key metrics will add this value.

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