L&D teams often use metrics like completion rate to gauge whether or not their training programs are effective. According to LinkedIn’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report, 38% of L&D pros cite completion rate as a way to evaluate the quality of learning, while 35% look to the number of participants.

While easy to measure (and important in the learning journey), they don’t tell the whole story. It’s not enough that learners simply complete their training or that dozens of learners are enrolled in a course. Your learners also need to retain new knowledge and apply it in the workplace.

L&D has so many goals, ranging from employee engagement to employee retention, on-the-job performance, keeping pace with business, and technological innovation. Evaluating training programs from multiple dimensions is a more useful way to see whether they deliver on their potential.

Here, we present five additional methods for evaluating training programs to give you a more complete story.

1. Measure knowledge gain

Completion rate doesn’t account for whether the learner actually absorbed anything—they could have been disengaged and scrolling through Instagram while still completing the course. But you can check whether they actually gained knowledge with a post-course assessment.

For instance, you can follow up with your learners with a quiz based on their training course. Send out the same quiz over time and compare their results in order to gauge your employees’ ability to retain the information they’ve learned.

Having online training materials makes measuring knowledge retention easy. You can clearly see results from each employee as soon as they’re finished. But, as we know, online learning’s one downside is that it’s isolating if it consists solely of independent training.

Include collaborative elements to your training, like peer-to-peer workshops or online forums for employees to talk through challenges. Learners can all contribute thoughts and collaborate on ideas to reinforce the lessons they absorbed in training.

Online forums
Online forums allow employees to talk through challenges.

2. Align with training needs

LinkedIn Learning’s 2021 State of the Workplace report found that a top concern among L&D is addressing skill gaps among employees. A training program is only useful if the content aligns with what learners need to do their jobs better. So, evaluate your course offerings using a training needs analysis to measure your course offerings against the skills your employees need to learn.

We believe a bottom-up approach is the best way to conduct a training needs analysis. By bottom-up, we mean asking your employees for input about where they need additional training, rather than solely relying on higher management.

On-the-ground employees have valuable insight into what they don’t know because (of course) it’s about them. You want to know when employees are frustrated that they don’t fully understand a certain process or tool, or that they want resources to develop expertise in a certain area of their job. There’s no clearer signal that you need additional training than that.

Training needs analysis comparison
Top-down vs. Bottom-up training needs analysis comparison.

You can use a Collaborative Learning program to crowdsource your training needs, letting employees declare a skill gap at the moment it’s needed. If an employee encounters a challenge, searches your LMS for relevant materials, and can’t find anything, they have the option to request new material addressing the challenge. Other employees can respond with their own knowledge or upvote comments that are the most relevant, letting you quickly identify the most urgent skill gaps.

From there, create an action plan to fill the most pressing gaps.

Related: The Right Way to do a Training Needs Analysis

3. Prioritize employee satisfaction

Happy employees are productive. Plus, in the ongoing war for top talent, prioritizing employee satisfaction for the sake of retention pays off.

In our recent study, we spoke with 600 employees and 2,000 L&D professionals to find out what learners really want. We found satisfaction rates are directly tied to training opportunities. When asked, “How important are learning and training opportunities to your overall satisfaction with your job?” on a scale of 0 to 100, the median answer was 84. These results make a strong case for evaluating your training programs to meet the needs of your employees. (Want the full report? You can get that, here).

Learner survey CTA

Surveys are highly effective in measuring employee satisfaction in your workplace. The most useful surveys are brief, direct, and feature evergreen questions like:

  • “Are there any tools or technologies you need to do your job well?”
  • “Do you feel you have skills that are underutilized in your current role?”

Send out the same survey over a period of time to measure changes. One idea is to send out your survey quarterly, so you can measure and compare employee satisfaction throughout the year.

4. Check your training materials are up-to-date

One way to see if your training is good is whether it’s been updated. Research from IBM shows new employees are 42% more likely to stay in a role if they receive proper training. This makes the case to ensure your materials are as up-to-date and relevant as possible. It doesn’t matter if 100% of employees take a course if that course has outdated information that doesn’t actually help them do their jobs better.

Take, for example, compliance training. In the past, we’ve called compliance training L&D’s “most importantyet least glamorous functions,” and it’s an area that constantly evolves. What makes a safe workplace now is very different from decades past, especially considering COVID-19 health and safety measures, and training materials for any company should be updated to reflect those changes.

Build in an ongoing practice of evaluating your training materials. Set aside anything that hasn’t been touched in the last year, and see what’s out of date. Some online training programs, like 360Learning, are designed to be flexible and adaptable to a company’s changing priorities.

Reactions feature in 360Learning
Reactions help L&D teams keep content up-to-date.

5. Keep an eye on return on investment (ROI)

Proving ROI in the world of L&D is a big challenge. The most impactful benefit to evaluating ROI is to prove the business benefit of training to executives, so you can make the case to expand your budget for next year.

We’ve got a handy calculator for you to determine ROI for your training programs (and, as an added bonus, it’s free). This tool is designed to help you calculate the impact of your programs on your budget, so you know if you’re spending L&D dollars wisely. We even parsed out the calculator into different training types, so you can find the ROI for different use cases, including:

  • Onboarding
  • Sales enablement/training
  • Retail training
  • Digitalized in-person training
  • Training for the manufacturing industry
  • SaaS client training

Choose a collaborative LMS that helps to evaluate your training programs and measure learning outcomes

Every workplace wants its training programs to be effective, but they aren’t evaluating the best factors to pinpoint exactly how to improve learning opportunities. A collaborative platform, like 360Learning, is designed to support employee-centric learning environments and identify gaps in your training materials. With this kind of tool, employees can address their needs in a public and shared space, making it easy to identify top concerns and the most sought-after skills among your workers.