Achieving high levels of employee performance is integral to business success but what does good employee performance look like and how do we measure it? We have seen so many performance management theories tried and tested, where employee performance is rated based on a line manager’s judgement, often without any hard evidence to justify the rating. There is a long list of employee performance assessment tools that have failed to deliver major results.
Being able to effectively monitor the progress of new employees in particular can accelerate their understanding of the role and responsibilities, through performance feedback that adds real value as it is built on stats. It can also encourage stronger motivation, as the employee is driven to achieve better outcomes.
A key element in reaching high levels of employee engagement is providing employees with development opportunities and enabling them to explore and realise their own potential. Around 74% of employees assume they do not use all of their capabilities while working, which shows that there is a lot more to give.
What is the key reason behind this inability to draw out the employee’s full potential? There is a wealth of research to show that ineffective corporate training is one of the biggest contributing factors.
High quality training costs money and any business that invests in this area will want to see evidence that they are getting a good return on their investment. Learning and development costs can vary from employing a team of inhouse training experts, or paying for expensive external courses, to introducing a state-of-the-art learning management system.
Corporate training is an area of expenditure that generally managers do not have a great deal of faith in, with just 38% of managers believing that their training courses are suitable and convenient for employees. 62% of managers felt that the lack of good onboarding and learning programs was the key issue.
This poor onboarding experience for new employees often leads to them leaving the company within the first year of employment, with figures as high as 1 in 3 leaving within 12 months, at a cost equating to three frontline employee salaries.
UK companies lose approximately £11 million per 1,000 employees each year due to ineffective training, so this is clearly a huge problem that requires a resolution. Selecting the best way to improve the effectiveness of training is not straightforward, as there are so many factors that must be considered. For example, the culture within the organisation must align to the learning methods and approaches.
Another key consideration is that the learning must be implemented in such a way that links clearly to the overall objectives of the business and can be measured as such. Some types of training are easier to measure the success of than others, for example, if you are training on process improvements, you can measure pre-training and post-training metrics like the length of time the process takes.
If the training is on the use of software for example, there must be a way to measure the impact of that training on the business. The metric again might be improvements in process length but there is a need to relate this to financial value to the business when working out the real return on investment.
ROI is commonly measured as:
ROI (percentage) = (Monetary benefits – Training Costs)/(Training Costs) x 100.
In a world where technology is advancing at a rapid rate and we have sophisticated data analysis tools at our disposal, there are now more opportunities to track employee performance. As identified in studies such as “The relationship between learning capability and organisational performance” published by Emerald Insight, learning is a key aspect of achieving high performance, so analysing an employee’s learning provides extremely meaningful data.
Learning analytics involves the measuring of the effectiveness of learning and producing vital data that enables companies to identify where improvements are required to learning and what is working well. It allows companies to delve deeper into how to keep track of employee training, how efficient training programs are, and also evaluates the sensibility of the programs.
Let’s take a look at the key issues learning analytics can help with.
Regular progress reporting for accurate budget planning
When companies invest in learning analytics, they will benefit from having a more structured mass of data relating to corporate training plans. They can identify where they need to allocate budget to in order to see the highest impact on business results.
The generation of reports that are easy to understand and easy to access enables management to have a clearer view of the effectiveness of learning, enabling them to make budget decisions when they need to. This is in comparison to some scenarios where managers might be waiting for an analysis team to provide data on an annual basis, therefore wasting money on poor training in the meantime.
Trainee outcomes prediction and training programs enhancement
Learning analytics also provides information regarding employee engagement, course progress and can even forecast employee outcomes. It can provide evidence to show whether the results achieved outweigh the cost of financial resources and personnel, allowing more informed decision making.
Using learning analytics can help to pinpoint any specific issues that can be preventing learning from being effective. For example, it might be that the format of the training is not engaging, perhaps there is too much reading involved, where other activities could produce better results. Where this is the case, quick changes can be implemented in terms of course design, to improve the effectiveness of the training. Analytics can provide the necessary recommendations for where improvements should be introduced to a training program.
Reduction of trainee time consumption and drop-out rate
Regulatory training is often delivered in a way that employees do not find very engaging, yet it is essential that the training is completed in regulated industries. Training that is unengaging risks employees not completing it and this can lead to fines from regulators in some cases, so it is in the interest of companies to closely monitor the completion of training modules. Tracking employee training spreadsheet can be used to evidence compliance. This is another way that companies can greatly benefit from learning analytics, which offers accessible reports to demonstrate progress across all training programs and modules.
Other issues that can be identified by learning analytics is the length of time that specific training is taking employees to complete. Therefore, changes can be made to help remove some of the complexity, if that is one of the main reasons behind the time consumption. Keeping track of employee performance is much easier with powerful learning analytics programs.
The success of onboarding programs become much more transparent with the use of learning analytics, so identifying the parts of the training that are ineffective and working on those areas can help to reduce the rate of employee turnover, showing the financial benefits of doing so.
Effective learning also has a significant impact on employee engagement, the importance of which is highlighted in a recent article “10 Timely statistics about the connection between employee engagement and wellness” published by Forbes, which showed that highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability. Higher levels of engagement also result in reduced absenteeism, which is a huge burden in terms of cost to the business.
Learning analytics offers a huge range of essential features that drive a variety of business results - from company performance in general to the development of an individual employee.
Comprehensive employee training spreadsheet. Managers can produce the spreadsheet with reliable and extensive data which includes indicators for progress and engagement. It can also show the length of time taken to complete the course for each individual and collectively, or even averaged.
Effective interventions. Predictive analytics enables managers to identify where an employee may be struggling with a certain area of the training to give them the opportunity to intervene and provide support to ensure training is completed at the right time. It can even inform the manager when the optimal time is to step in and offer some help to the trainee.
Feedback module. One of the most important factors in learning is the provision of quality feedback and this is why the feedback module that is available in learning analytics is so valuable. Trainees are given a questionnaire to complete about their training, which can gain great insight to help to make improvements.
The ease of producing reports on this feedback means that training managers can quickly see how the training has been perceived. For onboarding training, this ensures that training can be adapted in time for future onboarding programs, which as a result will reduce the number of employees leaving the business due to ineffective training. The reports can show dashboards to quickly allow managers to see the statistical data in an easy to comprehend format.
Where areas for improvement have been identified, these dashboards can be used to present to the learning and development manager or other cost centre owner to get sign off to say the work is required and the personnel cost of doing so is verified. Often, the hardest part of initiating the redesigning of a training program is getting approval from the appropriate person but this feature ensures that there is a solid argument for change, as evidenced by the statistics.
Staff appraisal tool. This is a great feature for staff development as it allows matching the employees’ hard and soft skills with their motivation and performance. This feature also provides statistics of achieved goals, allowing managers to see the outlook for employee performance and identifies education gaps that can be resolved through the right training solution.
To go into further detail regarding the benefits of applying corporate learning analytics, the detailed and extensive reporting of learning progress gives managers an understanding of where employees are up to without the need to spend time establishing that understanding.
The information that is available through learning analytics drives massive improvements to the whole training framework, from the content of courses, through to choosing the right type of training. For example, deciding whether e-learning or face-to-face training is more effective and what activities to use within the training, as they can see which are working and which are not based on the feedback and the results.
Another major benefit of choosing to implement corporate learning analytics is that it allows a personalised approach, even though the company may employ thousands of staff. Training programs can be adapted to suit each individual job role within a company, with just a few changes between similar roles. Training modules that are developing the most relevant skills for specific responsibilities can be included in individual training programs, instead of all staff completing generic training programs, where some topics and level of detail can be irrelevant to their roles and therefore a waste of their time.
Business processes can be improved as a result of both higher engagement levels and more skilled staff. The decision-making processes can be much quicker, given that all of the learning information is ready to be reviewed in an easy format, rather than spending time to understand the reasoning behind poor training results.
The accuracy and reliability of the data enables training managers and people managers to make the right decisions in terms of what training is required and helping in deciding whether it justifies the investment in training. Therefore, there is less money wasted on training programs that were not relevant enough, or that were not what was actually needed.
Staff retention is probably the biggest benefit of all, especially when you consider the costs related to recruiting new staff and training them. According to HR Review, it costs over £30,000 to replace a staff member, taking into account any temp/agency staff that are required in the interim, recruitment costs such as advertising, interview process etc. It also includes the lower levels of productivity that are commonly experienced, as new staff learn the ropes plus the cost of onboarding and any additional training required.
The successful utilisation of learning analytics can greatly improve staff retention figures, so the investment will be money well spent in terms of savings in replacing staff.
In the current financial climate, a company can lose between 20-30% of annual revenue due to an inappropriate approach to onboarding and staff training. Therefore, it makes bad commercial sense to not invest in this area. The application of learning analytics drives down the amount of money spent on poor training programs and activities and brings a number of cost-effective advantages to the company.
There are so many benefits of using learning analytics that link directly into the success of the business, from staff retention savings, to having a workforce of highly skilled and knowledgeable employees that deliver excellent work. Whether the employees are delivering higher levels of customer service, or improved quality of work, the results of improved training will be clear to see.
Employees that feel like their development is encouraged and invested in will go the extra mile in their roles as they feel appreciated and they are more committed to the business. With clearer understanding and evidence of training effectiveness, the right training solutions can be applied at the right time to drive the business forward through engaged, motivated, skilled and committed employees.