Most employers know that employee training is a legal requirement, on the federal level as well as some state and local levels.
But the best employers also realize that employee training can be much more than just something to check off a compliance list.
Training offers a tremendous opportunity to make your office a better place to work — and in doing so, improve employee retention, hit recruiting goals, and boost overall productivity.
The key to unlocking these big payoffs is finding the kind of program that will both accomplish your immediate goals and also provide a good return on investment.
But how can you measure the effectiveness of something as intangible as employee civility training? Here are a few ways to frame it:
The Kirkpatrick and Phillips Models of Training Measurement
One of the most popular methods for evaluating the success of workplace training today was developed back in the 1950s.
That’s when Donald Kirkpatrick developed the Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model, which he published in a trade journal and then later in his 1975 book Evaluating Training Programs.
The Kirkpatrick model establishes four levels of measurement for training programs:
- Reaction – Did the audience enjoy and appreciate the training?
- Learning – Did the audience retain the facts and lessons from the training?
- Behavioral change – Did the students’ behavior actually change?
- Results – The overall change in the organization due to the training.
In the early 2000s, Jack Philips came out with a fifth step to measuring success: assessing the Return On Investment. This step compares the program’s overall cost to its monetary benefits and is presented as a cost/benefit ratio.
At ELI, we think that using these standard steps can be a good way to account for how well a training is working at several critical places.
Let’s talk about each metric in more detail.
1. Participant Reactions
The very first (and perhaps easiest) thing to measure when it comes to employee training is how much your employees liked it — or at least how helpful they found it.
Enjoying the training material and feeling a good rapport with the instructor paves the way for students to learn more effectively. Employees will appreciate more engaging and interesting material, and that falls within your responsibility as an employer to respect their time.
To assess whether your employees enjoyed the training, you can use a simple survey tool and ask participants to rank their experience training on factors like instructor effectiveness and interest level.
2. Content Retention
Once you’ve determined that participants generally found the training pleasant and interesting, it’s time to see if they remembered what they learned.
You could consider conducting a survey before training on some of the key issues that the training was meant to address, then take another one after the training and note the differences.
You could also take a less formal approach and discuss some of the key points with employees after the fact to get a sense of how memorable the training really was.
As we mentioned in our post How to leverage microlearning in your training, the best training programs will already include some form of follow-up to increase the odds that employees will remember the lessons for the long-term and that the key points stay fresh in employees’ minds.
3. Behavioral Change
Even if employees remember what they’ve learned in training, they still have to put that knowledge into action.
That’s why it’s so important that your civility training includes opportunities for employees to practice what they’ve learned in realistic scenarios.
To track whether behaviors are really changing, you might be able to actually count some of the key behaviors as they happen. For example, if one of the civility problems you’ve noticed has been aggression or interrupting during meetings, you can count the behaviors in real time. If diversity initiatives have uncovered some problems with bias in succession plans, tracking the diversity in employees advancing through the ranks might do the trick (especially at a larger company).
Employee relations departments and ethics hotlines can also be valuable sources of information about employee behavior. You can gather data about how the complaints and calls are changing over time, both in content and in volume.
Keep in mind that increased complaints after training might actually be a good sign. More people identifying bad behavior and feeling comfortable enough to speak up about it can be a sign that training is working.
4. Short-Term and Long-Term Cultural Impact
New behaviors from employees, repeated consistently over time, should go on to affect the way the organization operates as a whole.
As we mentioned earlier, creating a more welcoming workplace can help with recruiting goals, keep employees happier, and help them get their jobs done in better ways. You may be able to track these kinds of factors in a tangible way and see how they correlate with your training efforts over the long-term.
Other measurable factors to assess the impact of training may include things like met deadlines, quality control issues, and customer satisfaction ratings. This only works, however, if you can isolate some of the other factors that may have affected these metrics outside of training.
5. Return On Investment
Once you have a handle on how your organization has changed for the better, it may be relatively easy to compare the monetary value gained (hopefully) to the initial cost of the training.
For example, you can put a specific dollar amount on the money you saved from hiring fewer new employees annually because employees’ improved empathy skills led to lower turnover. Hiring is expensive, from the job postings to the hours spent reviewing resumes to the lost productivity as the new employee trains, so the savings can add up quickly.
Or, you may be able to point to actual profits gained thanks to your team’s improved ability to work across diverse backgrounds, which went on to make it easier to expand into a new market.
Perhaps a team that was unhindered by rude and bullying behavior sped up their customer service response times, which in turn led to lower customer churn — and that has a tangible dollar amount.
Finding the Right Training Partner
It’s not a simple task to calculate the impact of your employee training down to the exact dollar amount. But if you work with a partner who is committed to providing a service that leads to tangible, long-term improvements in the areas you care about, you’re more likely to see those returns.
If you’re looking for a partner like that, we hope you reach out to us at ELI.
ELI’s award-winning training program takes a holistic approach to workplace civility. We aim to eliminate bad behavior in all of its forms (harassment, bullying, discrimination, rudeness) by helping employees internalize and practice skills like listening and being accountable.
Plus, ELI’s training options can be delivered via a state-of-the-art virtualinstructor-Led training program that allows employees to interact with one another and their trainer despite not being in the same physical location.