Everybody says it’s a good idea — maybe even a business-critical idea — to train and develop your employees.

But let’s get real here. If you’ve been doing some of this, or if you want to start doing more, how do you know your efforts are bearing fruit? In other words, how can you benchmark the effects of your training and employee development initiatives?

Two questions
There are really two closely related, but different, questions you need to ask:
1) Is employee development working for the employees?
2) Is employee development working for the employer?

A couple of years ago a nonprofit economic development organization called the National Network of Sector Partners took a close look at these questions, in a review of more than 20 studies on employee development. (BTW, the organization defined employee development as including such activities as training; an emphasis on internal advancement, especially for entry-level or low-skilled employees; creation of job ladders for employees; and mentorship or other support of employees.)

The NNSP analysis cited a number of metrics that can help you answer the two questions. Here they are:

Question #1, benefits to employees

  • Percentage of employees offered training or mentoring
  • Number of hours of training/amount invested in training per year per employee
  • Increases in pay or benefits
  • Number of promotions and pay level after promotion
  • Percent of internal hirings for low-mid or mid-level positions
  • Percent of line management that started as entry-level workers
  • Level within organization several (i.e. five) years after training or other significant employee development (such as number of employees at high, mid-, or lower management positions)
  • Job satisfaction

Question #2, benefits to the employer

  • Savings in recruitment and hiring
  • Increased employee retention
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Increased quality of work or service, as measured by less waste, lower error rates, higher customer satisfaction/retention, better safety record
  • Higher productivity, as measured by less time spent per task or per unit, increased output, time savings for supervisors, and improved capacity to use new technology
  • Higher sales
  • Better team performance
  • More and better communication, as measured by such things as employee suggestions and responses to employer change initiatives

Keeping it manageable
Obviously, some of this benchmarking data will apply to your operations while some may not. But if you select a small number of these categories to focus on — maybe three or four in each of the two categories — you’ll improve you ability to measure the effectiveness of your training and development programs.

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