7 Tips for Improving the ROI of Your Professional Development Programs

Professional development is an important part of any agency’s success. Investing in the training of employees helps them grow personally and professionally. And it also makes for happier workers.

Although professional development, such as remote online training programs, is a big expense, it can pay off. You just need to make sure your trainees, peers and stakeholders see the value. This will ensure your training investment pays off for years to come.

Hybrid learning is here to stay. This e-course covers everything you need to know about how to prepare for a hybrid learning project, from earning buy-in to the must-have elements for successful virtual collaboration. Access it here.

But there’s more to making sure your training programs are delivering than making sure your team is better able to perform their jobs than before. It includes creating a training process from the beginning that promotes communication, openness and growth for you and your workers.

Read on to learn about the keys to improving the return on investment (ROI) of your training.

What Is Training Return on Investment?

Training ROI is a way of measuring how well your training program is meeting your objectives.

A training ROI looks at the bottom line. You’ll know if you’re successful if you’re seeing gains that exceed your investment. You should be able to see that employees are performing better and that your program or agency is doing better.

How To Increase the Return on Investment in Your Training Program

1. Set Clear Training ROI Goals from the Start

Without a clear objective that can be measured, most training initiatives will fail. Plus, they’ll be a struggle to work on throughout the process.

Having no goals or an unspecific goal has a negative impact on your program and the bottom line. Not only are you unable to track progress (because there’s not really something you’re working toward), but your learners’ engagement will suffer as a result. How could they feel motivated if they don’t see the point of participating in the first place?

You also need clear ROIs for your training program. Minimally, it can be to earn or save more than $1 for each you spend on the program.

Instead, think about what success looks like and devise a plan to achieve it. This foundation will inform you of whether your online training program is doing what it should.

2. Get Buy-In from the Whole Team

Participation across your entire time is necessary for any program to succeed. In any area of your agency, think about what happens if someone doesn’t believe in what you’re doing. They drag their feet, don’t participate, and maybe even work against your mission.

A group of detractors will be the first element to hurt your return on investment. Apathy is bad and expensive, so work to get your whole team on board with any training project.

Remember that skeptics aren’t your enemy. They may have concerns about what your program means for your organization. They wonder how much the transition can cost. And most importantly, they need to be assured that staff will continue to learn when they’re looking at a computer as opposed to sitting in a meeting room.

They can have some pretty invalid reasons for throwing up roadblocks. Perhaps they hate computers. Maybe they fear change. Maybe there’s no budget. Or maybe, for whatever reason, they distrust your enthusiasm.

No matter what hesitations your critics have, you’ll do a better job of making your case for shifting to training your staff through online professional development will get everyone working for you instead of against you.

3. Create an Environment That Encourages Learning.

Employees who feel valued by their employer will be more likely to participate in professional development programs. This means creating an environment that encourages and rewards learning.

Engagement varies widely, depending on the course and who’s taking it. And there’s no one way to make sure that your participants are actively involved. But high engagement is crucial for a positive return on investment. So try these communication strategies to help make your training stick.

Check out 8 Strategies to Increase Engagement in Remote Training for ideas to create a culture of learning.

4. Provide Training Opportunities.

Increased participation means an increased return on investment. And one of the easiest ways to encourage participation in training opportunities is to provide them. If you offer a variety of options, such as online courses, face-to-face classes, and workshops, people will be more likely to take advantage of them.

Here are some of the current training delivery trends:

Cloud-based Learning – Cloud-based learning on a hosted LMS (learning management system) is a convenient and relatively low-cost way of delivering curricula to learners who want the ultimate flexibility.

Gamification – Deliver courses with game-based elements, such as “badges” or increasing challenges.

Localized Curriculum – A good example of localization is translating the course content into Spanish or providing case studies that match demographics. This trend makes training delivery much easier.

Mobile Learning – This means making training visible when you’re looking at it on your smartphone. It might also have features such as forum updates, or compatibility with social applications.

MOOCs – Cloud-based course on the web that is widely open to an unlimited number of participants.

Social Learning – Employs many of the same tools and technologies of social media and applies them to the digital classroom.

5. Set Benchmarks.

Without clear benchmarks, you won’t be able to measure the return on investment effectively. So you should consider setting benchmarks to measure the value of your program before and after your employees complete any program. If you compare pre-training data, then you’ll have a clear starting point from which to measure.

Say that you’re providing quality improvement training, and your goal is to reduce the time people are sitting in the waiting room by 5%. So before you start any kind of program, find out how long the wait time is, then offer training, and then you can measure again.

(Here’s a helpful article on quality improvement benchmarking, in case you want to weave it into your program.)

6. Be Willing to Invest Time and Resources.

If you’re going to offer training opportunities to your staff, you need to be willing to put in the time to provide those opportunities. It takes more than just giving people access to online courses; you also need to put into effect tools that help you measure.

To accurately calculate your training return on investment, be prepared to invest in …

  • Additional staff
  • Software or services, such as the Talance LMS
  • Training tools, including custom courses or off-the-shelf options
  • New support channels to support training efforts

7. Create Realistic Hypotheses.

Next, after setting a goal, you should set up some smaller experiments to measure your return on investment. These hypotheses should be realistic and measurable.

An example could be:

If we use a train-the-trainer program to add one new facilitator to our program, we can offer one extra health screening in one month. We expect to reach X people in that screening, which correlates to a lower rate of emergency room visits.

When you make testable predictions, you will generate valuable data that you can feed into developing a better training program.

If you start investing in professional development of your staff, then it should be natural to measure financial paybacks.

Round up your team, create some enthusiasm, be smart about setting goals and capturing data, and you’ll be able to show that your program has real value, and keep running it into the future.

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