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A guide to choosing metrics and calculating the ROI of Learning and Development programs

Imagine you have invested time and resources into developing a comprehensive training program. How do you know if it’s really paying off? Understanding the return on investment (ROI) for learning and development (L&D) programs is crucial for organisations aiming to justify expenditures and optimise training initiatives. Let’s explore how these metrics can be effectively measured and applied to the specific needs of an organisation.

Training costs

First, let's talk about money. Training costs aren't just about the obvious expenses like trainer fees and materials. There are indirect costs too, like the time employees spend away from their usual tasks. For instance, if a company runs a week-long online training session using a virtual platform, they are covering more than just the platform and facilitator fees, factoring in the productivity dip from employees stepping away from their regular duties. Detailed financial records and time-tracking systems are essential for capturing all these training-related activities.

Performance metrics

ROI for Learning and Development programs

Performance metrics are about assessing the direct impact of training on job performance. Imagine an organisation rolls out a blended learning program to enhance project management skills. By tracking project completion rates, adherence to timelines, and fewer project errors, there are clear signs of success. From there, regularly collecting and analysing this data with performance management systems would be crucial to continue progressing. Using Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Training Evaluation can help systematically assess the impact at different stages.

Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model_Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model

Employee engagement and retention

engagement and retention in education

Training can do wonders for employee engagement and retention. Surveys and feedback forms before and after training are useful for gauging this. For example, after employees participate in an online leadership development program, a follow-up survey could be used to see if they feel more connected to the company. Monitoring retention rates through HR records will allow the company to spot any changes in turnover post-training. Engaged employees are more likely to stick around, reducing recruitment and onboarding costs.

Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction can show how effective training is, especially for customer-facing roles. Customer feedback tools like surveys and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) can be used to gather data. For instance, a new customer service e-learning module causing a surge in positive customer feedback and higher NPS scores. This means employees are applying their new skills effectively. Regular reviews of this data help assess long-term trends and the training's impact. 

Revenue impact

Training programs aimed at sales or customer service can directly boost revenue. Sales metrics like total sales, average transaction value, and conversion rates measure this impact. For example, if a sales team completes an advanced online sales techniques course, the company should see a rise in their sales figures and conversion rates. Using customer relationship management (CRM) systems to gather and analyse these metrics over time allows for clear comparison of pre- and post-training performance. Correlating these metrics with training activities helps pinpoint the training’s direct impact on revenue. 

Compliance and risk management

In industries with strict regulations, compliance training is a must. Compliance rates can be measured through audits and tracking systems to monitor adherence to regulations and internal policies. A drop in violations and legal issues post-training can highlight the program's effectiveness. Regular compliance checks and risk assessments are key for continuous improvement. For instance, after implementing a compliance training program via an online platform, a financial services company may observe a significant reduction in regulatory breaches. 

Innovation and problem-solving

Effective training can spur innovation and problem-solving. The number of new ideas, products, or services developed, and the time and resources spent on problem resolution, can all be measured by encouraging employees to document their innovative ideas and solutions in a shared online platform. For instance, after a virtual creativity workshop, a company might see an uptick in innovative project proposals or process improvements. 

Training effectiveness

To measure training effectiveness, pre- and post-training assessments along with participant feedback can be used. Participant feedback can be collected through online surveys to understand their perceptions of the training’s relevance and quality. This data helps refine future training sessions. For example, in a coding bootcamp conducted online, the participants were assessed on their coding skills before and after the course to measure improvement. Using learning analytics to track progress and engagement throughout the training is also recommended. 

Behavioural changes

Behavioural changes post-training can be observed through direct supervision and manager feedback. Managers should regularly monitor and report any noticeable improvements in employee behaviour that align with training objectives. Structured observation forms and regular check-ins ensure consistent and objective assessments. For example, after an online conflict resolution training, managers may observe a decrease in workplace conflicts.

Career progression

Training often supports career development. Tracking promotion rates and skill utilisation are ways to measure this impact. HR systems can provide data on promotions and role changes, while performance reviews can highlight the application of new skills. It’s important to regularly review this data to ensure training programs align with career development goals. For example, after an online leadership training program, a company records the amount of participants promoted to managerial positions within a year. 

Calculating ROI

To calculate ROI, use the formula:

calculating ROI in education

Net benefits are derived from the total benefits minus total costs. For example, if a training program costs $50,000 and results in $200,000 in increased productivity and reduced costs, the ROI calculation would be:

ROI calculation example

Identifying relevant metrics

To figure out which metrics apply to an organisation, start by aligning the metrics with the business goals. If increasing sales is a priority, focus on performance metrics and revenue impact. For customer-centric roles, customer satisfaction and compliance metrics might be more relevant. It is important to engage stakeholders from various departments to gather input on which metrics best reflect the training's impact on their specific areas.

Identifying relevant metrics by use case

Use case

Relevant metrics

Measurement methods

Cost tracking

Direct and indirect training costs

Financial records, time-tracking systems

Performance improvement

Productivity, efficiency, accuracy

Performance reports, efficiency assessments

Employee engagement

Engagement scores, retention rates

Surveys, HR records

Customer satisfaction

Customer feedback, net promoter score (NPS)

Customer surveys, NPS tracking

Revenue impact

Sales metrics, customer lifetime value (CLTV)

CRM systems, sales reports


Compliance rates, incident reduction

Audits, compliance tracking systems


Number of innovations, problem-solving effectiveness

Idea tracking platforms, project reports

Training effectiveness

Pre- and post-training assessments, participant feedback

Knowledge tests, participant surveys

Behavioural changes

Observed behavioural improvements, manager feedback

Structured observations, feedback sessions

Career progression

Promotion rates, skill utilisation

HR systems, performance reviews

By using this table, one can better identify which metrics are most relevant to an organisation based on their specific goals and contexts. Implementing these metrics effectively will enable data-driven decisions, enhanced training programs, demonstrating their value to stakeholders.

roi in education