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What are the Training Metrics used to evaluate a successful learning program?

What makes for a successful employee training? How do you design a learning program with training metrics in mind? What are the key performance indicators that will demonstrate the value of your learning program – both to your learning audience, and to the decision-makers that authorized the new training program?

These are all good questions. As a training company, our instructional designers and performance consultants are often asked to help set the benchmarks for success and establish the training metrics used for measurement. Many organizations have their need for training in mind – onboarding, leadership, compliance, customer service, or sales, for example – but need support to determine the ROI. For that reason, oftentimes a training consultant will be brought in to design and develop learning content with that goal in mind, but less information given on how that success will be measured.

Team of people determining training metrics in a meeting

But since good instructional design keeps the desired outcomes in mind during development, we have a few ideas to share on how to measure success.

Before we dive in, have you heard of Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation? It’s the gold-standard that instructional designers and performance consultants use to evaluate training success and determine the training metrics that will guide learning design. Those four levels include: the learners’ reaction, or overall sense of satisfaction that the training has been useful; the scores from evaluations that demonstrate learning outcomes; the data collected later that show performance results, such as certifications completed or other observable outcomes; and the increased sales or other KPIs that show a measurable business impact.

Simply put, you can base success on metrics determined by your desired outcomes. Here are some easy ways to measure the success of your training, based on your potential needs.

Training Metrics: Four Methods of Evaluation

  1. Participation. Would success for your organization include just getting your team to use available training materials to fill skills gaps? Is your busy team being asked to find spare time to learn more about new products, procedures, or other initiatives? Your team won’t learn if they aren’t even using the course. In this case, success could be measured by pulling user data from digital sources – and perhaps by reducing total seat time to encourage more active participation.
  • Engagement. How much time is your team spending with the material, once they sit down to take the course? What’s the “bounce” rate? Do your employees feel that the training matters, is useful to improve performance in their daily work, and provides valuable information? One way to measure this is to ask employees for feedback. (Yes, feedback from surveys can provide valuable training metrics!) If your employees don’t feel training is relevant, or speaks to their real-life experiences, they either won’t use your training or might just tune it out – and the skills you want them to have will remain unlearned.
  • Effectiveness. After training, do your employees go on to pass a compliance certification? Can they demonstrate acquisition of a new skill? Do they show improved customer service feedback or increased productivity in some way? What does management have to say about their overall performance? These are all good indicators of the success (or failure) of a training course. 
  • Efficiency. How long do you usually spend onboarding your employees? Could you provide the same materials in less time, while still achieving the same result (or a better one)? Often, the answer is yes. If you can streamline a process, the learning solution has already demonstrated a potentially successful outcome. Reduced seat time gets learners ready to perform more quickly, which yields immediate increases in productivity.

These four indicators are not the only metrics that you can use, but they’re a good place to start thinking about how to meet your organization’s goals and objectives. Of course, we also recommend additional strategies to convert analytics into outcomes. You can read more about developing a comprehensive measurement strategy of training metrics here.