How to Maximize the ROI of Your Training Program

By Emily Roner | Updated: 07 Nov, 2019

According to the Association for Talent Development, companies that have a comprehensive training program earn 218% higher income per employee than those that don’t offer formal training.

To achieve that kind of ROI from your training investment you need to:

  1. Make your training relevant
  2. Focus on knowledge retention
  3. Create on-demand learning opportunities

In this article, we’ll dive into how to do all three so you can ensure your training program drives measurable performance improvements.


Make Your Training Relevant

The biggest issue with top-down driven training programs is that leaders push for employees to learn about topics that aren’t relevant or, if they are, employees don’t understand how it connects to their jobs.

If you want your training investment to have a lasting impact, it needs to bridge a critical gap in knowledge and help employees immediately perform better.

Here’s how to find relevant training topics:

  • Ask your front-line managers what performance and knowledge gaps they’re seeing.
  • Survey your employees to see what they’re interested in learning.
  • Review your goals for the coming 1-5 years and evaluate what new skills your workforce needs to be successful.

Getting input from your front-line managers and employees helps you develop trainings that address the root causes for lackluster performance and upskill your workforce to meet future goals.

Related: How to Create Employee Development Plans that Drive Success


Focus on Knowledge Retention

Research shows that the average person forgets 90% of what they learn within a week. To prevent your training investment from going to waste, you need to address the two main reasons why knowledge isn’t retained:

  1. It’s not seen as urgent so the brain has no pressure to remember it.
  2. It’s not repeated or used shortly after it’s learned.

To improve knowledge retention, you need to show your team how the training topics affect their success and give them lots of opportunities to apply what they learn.

Here are some examples:

  • Include practical, hands-on exercises in your training. People are significantly more likely to remember things that they do compared to what they read or hear. The more hands-on your training, the more effective it will be.
  • Immediately after a training, assign employees a project that requires them to use what they learned. This is by far the most effective way to encourage knowledge retention since it creates a sense of urgency around the training topic and gives your team a chance to apply what they learned.
  • Have 1:1 meetings to go over individual takeaways. This helps you assess if employees captured the information you wanted them to and gives you an opportunity to discuss how they can apply the training to their specific role.

Keep in mind that the more ways that you help employees apply what they learn, the greater the return on investment you’ll get from your training program.


Create On-Demand Learning Opportunities

One of the biggest challenges with traditional training programs like classes and seminars is that the knowledge isn’t available when employees need it most. To sustain employee productivity, your team needs to have access to training materials when they’re faced with challenges that may take them an excessive amount of time to solve from scratch.

To empower your employees to learn on-demand, create an internal resource library that includes:

  • How-to guides and FAQs. Have your top-performers write out the steps they take to do common projects, solve problems, and approach various scenarios. By documenting their knowledge, they enable other employees to work much more efficiently.
  • Video tutorials. Video tutorials of common projects and problems are a great resource since they quickly teach employees how to complete their work. To create them, all you have to do is ask your top-performers to make a screenshare of themselves doing tasks and explaining their actions. If you lead a team that does a lot of hands-on work, you can have one employee do the task while another one films and explains what’s happening.
  • A guide to the experts in your organization. Sometimes employees face extremely challenging issues that aren’t documented in any of your materials. In these cases, it’s helpful to know who your internal experts are that people can go to for help. For topics that tend to have a lot of challenges, list at least two to three people so that that one person isn’t constantly being bombarded with questions.

Your on-demand learning library should be a living resource that’s continuously updated as your team learns new best practices and adapts how they use their tools.

To learn how to create effective on-demand learning resources, check out our article: 

How to Boost Productivity with Knowledge Management Systems


Give Your Employees the Gift of Productivity

One of the most meaningful ways to show your employees you appreciate them is by giving them more time to focus on the work they love. Learn how to give your employees the gift of productivity by checking out our free guide How to Give Your Team Leverage with Virtual Assistants. In it, you'll learn: 

  • What kinds of time-saving tasks your team can offload
  • How we work with you to maximize the ROI of our service
  • Our process for securely leveraging your systems

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About the Author: Emily formerly led Prialto's content production and distribution team with a special passion for helping people realize success. Her work and collaborations have appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. and the Observer among others.