Measuring the Impact of Learning Interventions

A long held belief in Learning and Development (L&D) is that training of employees has a positive impact on productivity. While this assertion is logical, measuring the impact of training activities is not as easy as we are being made to believe.

A change in organisational objectives or a drop in sales might necessitate the need for training. However, it might be difficult pinning an upsurge in sales or realisation of company’s objectives to learning sessions conducted for employees.

There are lots of models that attempt to evaluate the impact of training on organisations. While these efforts are commendable, it is open to argument whether they have effectively evaluate Returns on Investment (ROI) as far as L&D interventions are concerned.

The common model to measure the impact of any training activity is the KirkPatrick model. The ‘Happy Sheet’ which we are all familiar with, often in form of a questionnaire is distributed to trainees at the end of the session to get their  reactions on the entire exercise. This activity is the first level of KirkPatrick’s model.

We all know how subjective the ‘Happy Sheets’ are. The second level is to determine how well the trainees have assimilated during the learning session by giving them a written test or a group work. How well participants performed in a written test might not be replicated on the job itself.

However, measuring behavioural change on the job can correct over reliance on an excellent test performance. This is the third stage of the model. Sustaining an improved performance on the job cannot be guaranteed as there is always a tendency of employees reclining to pre-training status after a period of increased momentum.

Improvement in results is the last stage of KirkPatrick’s model. An increase in level of production, profitability or cost reduction can be attributed to L&D interventions. Establishing a direct relationship between the two might be a tough call though.


Another perspective to the evaluation subject surfaced with the harsh economic conditions businesses are operating in. Costs and every expense line are subjected to intense scrutiny and must be justified before approvals are given. Consequently, costs and benefits analyses of training sessions are used to calculate Return on Investment (ROI).

Quantifying cost of recruitment might be a simple exercise but definitely not a value driven activity like training. Even though I am an advocate of HR analytics, somethings cannot be adequately measured in numbers.

Let me know what you think please.


2 thoughts on “Measuring the Impact of Learning Interventions

  1. I am working in a hospital, which human factor plays a major role in improving the performance, I noticed that new staff needs at least 6 month to fully adapt to the hospital system and regulations.
    I think investing in training has a long term impact on productivity and profitability.
    thanks for the article.

  2. I work in Apollo Hospitals Dhaka Bangladesh. Special focus on T&D/L&D with top managements’ active participation had it’s positive outcome in the form of – larger participation in training in all hierarchies, changes in interpersonal communication and better bonding between non-related work group. But all were expected to thwart results after a relentless effort of 6 months. It worked.

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