Training return on investment

Maximising training return on investment is dependent largely on the degree in which the learning gained during training is transferred back to the day-to-day workplace.

Training is much more than formal classroom training. The Centre for Creative Leadership (2011), developed a model for leadership development, which they labelled 70:20:10:

  • 70% challenging assignments
  • 20% developmental relationships
  • 10% coursework and training.

training return on investment - optimum training blend

Figure 1: Optimum training blend for leadership development

Whilst the model is specifically researched for the topic of leadership development the general thrust is supported by other research for general training which, on average, suggest a ratio of around 30% of formal training for 70% of informal training is best to get a training return on investment.

Within the bounds of this considered optimum blend of training modes, organisations can enhance the probability of getting a solid return on their training investment by including taking heed of five elements of training model design.

The first element is to consider the ability of learners to learn. You may find it is of advantage to begin a training programme by preparing your people to learn. As Michelle Linton says in her article, Ripe For Plucking – Preparing Staff For Training, “…you as a manager also have responsibility in getting your staff to their development peak to achieve an acceptable ROI from attending the training”.

Designing training to match their learning styles, in combination with ensuring your staff have the ability to learn, maximises transfer of learning to the workplace and hence, your training return on investment.

training return on investment - training design match

Fig 2: Training design match

Ensuring learners have the motivation to learn is as important as ensuring they have the ability to learn. Motivation to learn generally peaks when the learning offered has a direct link to learner’s career aspirations or their interests. Don’t send learners on training courses which have no connections to their career aspirations or interests.

training return on investment - motivation to learn

Fig 3: Motivation to learn

Most training design improves skills by learning underpinning knowledge and practicing the application of that knowledge. Understanding learner’s interests and matching their skill development to those interests is the most effective way of improving the motivation of learners to learn. In doing so, you will almost certainly unlock career aspirations which will motivate them too.

training return on investment - interest skill

Fig 4: Interest and skill overlap

Learners returning to the workplace are often prevented from practicing their new skills or apply their new knowledge. This may be by means of indifference from their colleagues or supervisor, and are most unlikely to transfer their learning to the workplace. Learners must be supported by their peers in the workplace to have a high probability of transferring learning back to the workplace.

training return on investment - peer support

Fig 5: Impact of peer support

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