By Patrick Gallen, Partner, People and Change Consulting, Grant Thornton

Learning is transformative, and the best companies invest in continuous development of their people. Do you view training as an expense, or as an investment opportunity? The research is clear; investment in training does pay dividends.

How much it returns depends on many factors; such as ensuring you are investing in the right training that aligns to your key business objectives and develops the most essential skills for each role. Measuring Return on Investment (ROI) requires measuring the monetary benefits of the training minus the training costs as a percentage of the original investment.

Measuring benefits can be tricky, as they can be wide-ranging and include intangibles like employee satisfaction, engagement and resilience. One recent study of investment in soft skills training of factory workers had a ROI of 250 per cent.

If that is possible for employees working in low-tech, non-customer facing roles, imagine what is possible when you consider the demands on employees in complex organisations, competing to stay ahead of the game and stay abreast of technological changes in your organisation.

Rather than attempting to measure ROI, some companies choose to measure ‘Return on Expectations’, which is all about being clear on the behavioural changes they expect to see as a result of the investment.

This approach requires having a clear set of criteria they will measure post-training, once people have had a chance to bed in the new approaches they have learned.

The ‘best companies to work for’ invest, on average, 73 hours per employee, while 38 hours is standard practice in other companies (Training Journal). Most UK employees do not believe their employers are offering them enough learning and development opportunities.

If you think there is an opportunity to invest in more development for your staff, where do you start? First, be clear about the outcomes you want. Define and then align those outcomes to your strategy.

Demand that your training providers, either internal or external, agree up-front the outcomes their interventions will deliver. Get feedback and monitor the training programmes throughout; and then measure impact at the end.

Use insights from exit-interviews, performance reviews and staff surveys to target the right areas, and select the right people to attend the training.

Be as thoughtful about how you will invest in training as you would with any other investment the company is considering.

Learning at Work Week 2019 is May 13-19. What are your plans to promote a culture of learning in your organisation? To drive employee satisfaction, productivity, innovation, and excellence, investment is required. Invest wisely and reap the rewards