Five ways to measure and track the success of your workplace Learning and Development programs.

  1. Implement a pre and post-assessment
  2. Use the SMART format for goal setting
  3. Ask for feedback on the value of training from employees
  4. Measure engagement during the process
  5. Use post-training quizzes

Talent Development Programs are essential to employee engagement in the workplace. 93% of employees say they’ll stay in a position longer if the company invests in career development. But when taking a look at your own company, it can feel difficult to make a concrete case for the importance of talent development in your office. Planning and implementing employee learning and development programs take time, initiative, effort, and often expense--if you don’t have the numbers to prove that these programs are worth it at your organization, there’s a chance they could fall by the wayside or you could lose support from upper management. 

If you don’t have the time, budget, or technology for in-depth surveys or studies there are some simple ways you can concretely measure the success of your employee development programs in your workplace. 

1. Implement a pre and post-assessment 

Think back to your elementary school days, where teachers used to distribute a pre-test to measure how much you knew about a subject before teaching the concept. Giving employees a pre and post-assessment during a development workshop is the same concept. It’s impossible to measure the effectiveness of your program without a baseline in place. If you don’t know how people felt before a workshop or management program, it’s hard to demonstrate an improvement afterward. 

The pre and post-program assessments don’t have to be complicated or long, but you should ask the participants the same questions before and after the event--that way you can directly compare how effective it was based on participant responses. Even asking about participants' comfort level with certain topics and concepts before and after a workshop can yield effective measurement tools. For example: 

  1. On a scale from one to five, one being the most and five being the least, how comfortable do you feel managing conflicts in your workplace?
  2. On a scale from one to five, how comfortable do you feel leading meetings in the workplace? 

Using pre and post-assessments also gives you an opportunity to measure engagement and expectations when it comes to training and workshops. If metrics show that employees aren’t engaged by certain topics, try soliciting feedback to create more effective trainings.  

Not sure how to craft your assessment? Check out this resource on pre/post surveys in academia

2. SMART goal setting 

SMART InfographicWork and goal setting go hand in hand, but are your employees creating smart, measurable goals that tell a larger story about learning and development within your team? 

You want employees' goals to include things like, “be more engaged,” or “work more efficiently,” but how can you prove that’s been accomplished by the end of each quarter? If you’re taking the time to create goals within teams, you want to focus on making them SMART, meaning: 

  • Specific - keep the goal from being too broad, instead focus on one or two projects or ideas. 
  • Measurable - can you use a scale, numeric, or another metric to measure how close you are to achieving the goal? Being able to point to numbers or data keeps the goal specific, and gives a sense of accomplishment when it is achieved.
  • Assignable - don’t leave achieving the goal up to chance. Can the goal be assigned to someone specific, or to a team? Make sure your goal has clear ownership so there’s no confusion in responsibility. 
  • Relevant - the goal should benefit the team or company at large, as well as the person creating the goal.
  • Timely - ensure that the goal can realistically be met within a specified timeline.

A SMART goal might look like these examples:

  1. For a front end programmer - "Increase user time spent on page by 10% in the next two months."
  2. For a customer relations manager - "Increase feedback from new customers by 15% before the end of the year."

Asking team members to create and measure SMART goals will help them focus their efforts and also provide a framework for performance measurement. You can use the success and failure of these goals to measure the efficacy of learning and development initiatives your employees have followed that were aimed at increasing achievement in the relevant areas.

3. Ask for feedback from participants on the value they felt they received 

You might painstakingly prepare mandatory monthly or weekly workshops, but if your employees aren’t enjoying them, it’ll be hard to keep momentum. Having an unengaged group in development trainings can spell trouble, but working actively to understand and bring the right programming to employees can make all the difference. 

Beyond the simple pre and post-assessment, make space for employees to evaluate trainings. Are you meeting their expectations? Are they excited by the training opportunities provided? 

If you have the feedback that employees get value from workshops and trainings, that is specific data that you can use to measure the impact of your programs. Ask anonymous questions such as:

  1. On a scale from one to five, do you feel this training was worth your time? 
  2. On a scale from one to five, how impactful will this workshop be on your work in the next 3 months?

Armed with feedback, you can make changes that will ensure continued team participation, as well as grow a culture that values learning and development. Creating an environment where change is welcomed and embraced will show improvement beyond feedback and numbers. 

4. Measuring engagement during the process

During a workshop or training program, you might feel that you have everyone’s attention, but can you find a way to measure engagement and learning during the process? It doesn’t have to be a formal pop quiz, but taking time during the workshop to measure retention and attention can be a great metric to showcase learning engagement. speaking to group-1

Use an interactive smartphone tool to create pop quizzes that can be answered in live during the presentation. Not only are you keeping participants off other apps, but you’ll have real-time engagement metrics to share post-workshop. 

Questions could be a simple true or false, such as: 

True or False: Workplace feedback should be given only when a third party is present. 

Using a tool like this not only asks employees to focus, but it holds them accountable for retaining the information. One out of every three employees say that "uninspiring content is a barrier to their learning", and measuring engagement can help ensure that you’re providing the proper content. It can also provide insight into how well the facilitator is holding the attention of the room at that time. 

5. Post training retention testing 

Want to prove how effective your learning and development programs are? On average, people forget 75% of what they were taught in a training after six days. Asking employees recall this information can aid in knowledge retention long term. Send out a short quiz a couple weeks after a workshop to see how well attendants retained what they learned. Ask quick questions like:

List three attributes of a successful communicator.

These metrics can give you insight into skill application on the job. Answering five quick true/false or multiple choice questions a few weeks after the workshop or lunch and learn will measure the staying power of the programs you’re implementing. 

Putting data behind your talent development programs gives you the influence you need to keep stake-holders engaged with your programs and ensure continued support from your executive team. By tracking and assessing employee growth, you not only chart progress and learning but have the numbers behind your programming to expand and refine your programs going forward.