Training Programs and ROI – Stop the Madness!

Chris Osborn

ROI and training are two concepts that are really hard to tie together, but those of us in employee development, employee training, L&D or HR have been working at it for years. The problem is that it’s hard to make a direct connection between content delivered in an employee training program and actual improved job performance due to the difficulty in isolating the cause for the improvement. Many factors could influence improved employee performance, not just the training. 

I just read an article by Bob Mosher in Chief Learning Officer’s June 28, 2013 Newsletter called “ROI It’s All About Proximity.” Mosher does a great job explaining this conundrum and he closed his article with the following quote:

 In fairness to our overall employee learning programs, we have to become better at associating learning assets with the appropriate outcome. When we do, we can measure our overall effectiveness and impact on the business in a much more powerful way. We need to extend our reach and impact into the workflow where true performance is measured. Only then can we truly assess the business impact for which we’re all held accountable.


 One of the things we have to strive for as learning professionals is to find ways to fully integrate learning to everything that happens in the everyday work routine in our organizations. When learning and continuous improvement are simply are part of the organizational DNA of our culture, we no longer have to worry about ROI. We no longer have to worry about being relevant.

 The tricky part is how do we get to that place? Here are a three ideas to help you get started on that path: 

  • Start using the vocabulary of the C-suite and speak about your employee development effort in explaining the business benefits of improved employee performance.
  • In order to use C-suite vocabulary, you have to understand the actual connections between your training efforts and high level organizational goals, so make sure your training programs are designed to produce results that support those organizational goals.
  • Communicate – relentlessly – the value of participation in employee development to your managers and supervisors, because without building support among this key group of stakeholders for your efforts you will never gain the traction and levels of engagement you will need to actually deliver the results your program can deliver.
Written by Chris Osborn at 00:00

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