Training your Millennials: How to measure the training investment in your Generation Y employees.

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Historically, the paradigm has been that, ‘of course’ organisations should provide training for their employees. It engenders loyalty, and it is the socially responsible thing to do! 

20th Century society accepted that individuals might only have one career, and a couple of jobs, in a lifetime. With such a sedentary workforce it made sense to invest in their training. ‘Carry it out now’, and the employer could expect to gain a return on that investment, over the decades. Measuring return on investment (ROI) was relatively unimportant, because eventually the employer ‘would be in credit’. 

The 21st Century workplace, however, is very different and populated with people born around the turn of the millennium. Today’s generation measures careers in months and years, rather than decades and lifetimes. 

It has become critical, therefore, to measure the short term impact of training and tailor offerings to deliver a return within a ‘Millennial’ timescale. 

Despite days spent in the classroom – at the cost of millions – few companies measure the return they are getting on their investment. To parody John Wanamaker and William Lever, it is possible that ‘half of our training spend is wasted, the trouble is we don’t know which half’! 

Training might be a valuable investment, or a waste, but without measurement, there is no quantifiable data to prove it, either way. 

Famously Kirkpatrick defined four levels of evaluation: 

1. Reaction – did the audience enjoy the training, do they think they learned something – this is a poor indicator of ROI, but a quick and easy measure of satisfaction 

2. Knowledge – did the audience actually learn something – a more complex measure and relevant only if knowledge-transfer is the sole objective of the training 

3. Behaviour – is the audience doing something differently – challenging to measure, but far more indicative of ROI 

4. Results – the ultimate measure of ROI– directly demonstrates whether the audience is more productive or profitable as a result of the training 

There are also many factors, beyond the control of the individual. For instance, when sales people attend a sales training workshop, level 4 evaluation would need to correct, for external variations: 

  • Global growth / recession 
  • Competitor & media activity 
  • Supply chain variations 
  • Pricing strategy 

And internal influences: 

  • KPI’s and competency frameworks 
  • Incentive schemes 
  • HR processes 
  • Management support and coaching 

This makes Level 3 Evaluation the most practical and indicative measure, as long as you are confident that the behaviours being measured are those that will lead to business success. 

Next steps: 
1. For your next training event start by specifying what your outcome is 
If the only outcome required is satisfaction, use a level 1 measure 
If transfer of knowledge is required, use a level 2 tool 

2. Otherwise, define specifically what behaviours participants would demonstrate if outcome was achieved 

3. Measure the quality and frequency of those behaviours, before and after training, ideally on a numerical scale 

4. Calculate % shift in relevant behaviours and relate this to your investment in training 

Different cohorts of participants, designs of workshops or training providers can now be compared. By prioritising your investment in those that give you the greatest behavioural shifts, you can eliminate the 50% of training, which might otherwise have been wasted! Excel Evaluate is an online tool that empowers organisations to easily, and cost-effectively, measure the behavioural impact of internal training, or the expert training provided by the Excel Communications group of companies. 

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