How to Measure Training ROI: Needs, Steps, and Models to Follow

Pete Ford
Jan 13, 2023
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How to Measure Training ROI: Needs, Steps, and Models to Follow

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Measuring the ROI (Return on Investment) of training helps determine if it provided value for money and was a worthwhile investment considering the associated costs. By measuring training ROI, organizations can make informed decisions about training strategies, justify training budgets, and allocate resources more effectively. 

What is the Training ROI

It allows them to identify areas of success and areas for improvement, ultimately leading to optimized training initiatives that align with business goals.

This guide provides a roadmap for successfully measuring training ROI. It will outline the essential steps involved in the process, from setting clear objectives and identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to collecting baseline data, calculating costs, measuring training outcomes, and evaluating intangible benefits.

Need to Measure Training ROI

Calculating the ROI of training can help organizations understand the impact of their training programs and make more informed decisions about future investments in training.

Need to Measure Training ROI

Why Measuring Training Roi Is Needed for an Organization’s Success?

It provides tangible evidence of training financial value and impact, justifying the investments made in training.

1. Resource Allocation: ROI analysis helps organizations allocate resources more effectively by identifying high-return training and prioritizing investments accordingly.
2. Decision Making: ROI data enables organizations to make informed data-driven decisions on training strategies and future investments.
3. Continuous Improvement: ROI measurement fosters a culture of continuous improvement by identifying areas for enhancement and refining training initiatives.
4. Accountability and Stakeholder Communication: ROI measurements enhance transparency and accountability to stakeholders by quantifying the benefits and returns from training.
5. Evaluation of Training Effectiveness: ROI analysis goes beyond traditional evaluations, assessing the actual impact of training on business outcomes and employee performance.

Who Benefits from Training ROI Calculations?

Training ROI calculations can benefit various organizational job roles, which include:

Who Benefits from Training ROI Calculations

1. Learning and Development Professionals are responsible for designing, implementing, and evaluating training. They can use ROI calculations to assess the effectiveness of their initiatives. It helps them identify areas of success and areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to enhance training strategies.
2. HR and Talent Development Managers can utilize ROI calculations to demonstrate the value and impact of training to senior leadership and stakeholders. It helps them justify training budgets, allocate resources efficiently, and align training initiatives with organizational goals.
3. Senior Leadership and Executives can benefit from training ROI calculations as it provides clear and measurable insights into the return on their training investments. This information enables them to make informed decisions about the organization's training strategy, allocate resources strategically, and ensure alignment with overall business objectives.
4. Finance and Budgeting Teams play a crucial role in assessing the financial viability of training. ROI calculations help them evaluate the cost-effectiveness of training initiatives, compare the benefits against the expenses, and make informed recommendations regarding resource allocation.
5. Stakeholders and Investors are vested in understanding the value generated from training investments. ROI calculations provide them with concrete evidence of the financial returns and benefits derived from training, promoting transparency and accountability. 

How to Measure Training ROI?

How to Measure Training ROI

1. Establish Clear Objectives: Clearly define the objectives of the training before it begins. Objectives should be specific, measurable, and tied to desired outcomes. This provides a foundation for measuring ROI and ensures alignment with organizational goals.
2. Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Determine the KPIs that align with the training objectives. These indicators should be quantifiable and directly measure the desired outcomes, which include performance metrics, sales figures, customer satisfaction ratings, and employee turnover rates.
3. Measure Training Outcomes: Collect data on the identified KPIs after the training. This involves assessments, surveys, or tracking performance metrics. Ensure that data collection methods align with the established objectives and KPIs.
4. Collect Baseline Data: Collect relevant data before the training establishes a baseline. This includes pre-training performance metrics, employee surveys, or historical data. Baseline data serves as a reference point for measuring the impact of training.
5. Calculate Training Costs: Accurately calculate the total costs associated with the training, including direct and indirect costs. This ensures an accurate assessment of ROI.
6. How to Measure Training ROI: Use the ROI formula to calculate the return on investment:

ROI = (Training Benefits - Training Costs) / Training Costs * 100

For Example, a training program produced benefits of $321,600, costing $38,233. The benefit/cost ratio is 8.4. For every dollar invested, $8.40 in bnefits is returned. The net benefits are $321,600 - $38,233= $283,367. ROI is $283,367. According to the ROI formula, every dollar invested in the training returned $7.40 in net benefits.

7. Consider Intangible Benefits: Acknowledge and evaluate intangible benefits that may not be easily measured but still contribute to the overall value of the training. These can include improved morale, enhanced teamwork, or increased employee engagement.
8. Evaluate and Adjust: Analyze the ROI results and assess the effectiveness of the training. Identify areas of success and areas for improvement. Use this information to refine future training initiatives and make data-driven decisions to maximize ROI.
9. Continuously Improve: Ensure to follow the above steps to measure training ROI. Regularly review and update objectives, KPIs, data collection methods, and evaluation strategies. This ensures that training initiatives remain relevant, effective, and aligned with business goals.

Challenges in Measuring Training ROI

According to the Training Industry Report, one of the top challenges organizations face in measuring training effectiveness is the difficulty in collecting relevant data and measuring ROI. The report found that 58% of organizations struggle with data collection for training evaluation.

Challenges in Measuring Training ROI

1. Data Collection: Gathering accurate and relevant data can be challenging. It requires a systematic approach to collect pre- and post-training data, including baseline data, performance metrics, and other relevant indicators.
2. Attribution of Results: Isolating the impact of training from other factors influencing performance can be difficult. Attributing improvements solely to training is challenging, as various factors, including individual differences, managerial support and coaching, job design and complexity, continuous learning and development, and supportive organizational practices, may contribute to outcomes.
3. Intangible Benefits: Measuring intangible benefits such as improved morale or enhanced teamwork is complex, as these benefits are subjective and not easily quantifiable. Capturing their impact on ROI can be challenging.
4. Cost Estimation: Determining the true training costs, including indirect costs such as employee time, can be challenging. Accurate cost estimation is crucial for calculating ROI accurately.
5. Time and Resources: Measuring training ROI requires time, effort, and resources. Organizations must allocate resources for data collection, analysis, and evaluation, which can be demanding.

Despite these challenges, the benefits of measuring training ROI outweigh the difficulties. With careful planning, robust data collection methods, and clear objectives, organizations can overcome these challenges and gain valuable insights into the effectiveness and value of their training initiatives.

Training ROI Metrics

When measuring training ROI, it is essential to choose appropriate metrics that align with the objectives and desired outcomes of the training. Here are some commonly used training ROI metrics:

Training ROI Metrics
  • Performance Improvement: Measure the enhancement in key performance indicators (KPIs) directly linked to the training objectives.
  • Cost Savings: Quantify the reduction in expenses or increased efficiency resulting from the training program.
  • Time-to-Competency: Track the time employees take to reach a desired level of proficiency after training.
  • Training Completion Rates: Determine the percentage of employees who complete the training program.
  • Employee Retention: Assess the impact of training on employee retention rates and job satisfaction.
  • Training Cost Ratio: Calculate the ratio of training costs to the benefits or savings generated.
  • Employee Feedback and Satisfaction: Gather feedback from employees to gauge their satisfaction and perception of the training program.
  • Return on Expectations (ROE): Evaluate how the training program met stakeholders' expectations and objectives.

Organizations can comprehensively understand the ROI and effectiveness of their training initiatives by utilizing a combination of quantitative and qualitative metrics. These metrics provide valuable insights into the impact of training on key areas of business performance and help make data-driven decisions for continuous improvement and resource optimization.

Calculating Training ROI - Tangible and Intangible Metrics

When calculating ROI, it is important to consider tangible and intangible metrics. Tangible metrics are quantitative and measurable, such as financial outcomes or performance indicators directly tied to the training objectives. Intangible metrics, on the other hand, are qualitative or subjective measures that may not have a direct monetary value but still contribute to the overall value of the training. Here's how you can incorporate both metrics when calculating ROI:

Calculating Training ROI - Tangible and Intangible Metrics

1. Tangible Metrics:

  • Financial Impact: Measure the financial outcomes resulting from the training program, such as increased sales revenue, cost savings, or decreased expenses.
  • Performance Indicators: Evaluate changes in key performance indicators directly related to the training objectives, such as productivity metrics, customer satisfaction scores, or quality improvement.

2. Intangible Metrics:

  • Employee Morale and Engagement: Assess the impact of training on employee morale, job satisfaction, and engagement levels.
  • Teamwork and Collaboration: Measure improvements in teamwork, collaboration, and communication among employees due to the training.
  • Employee Retention: Evaluate the impact of training on employee retention rates and job loyalty.
  • Customer Perception: Collect feedback from customers to gauge improvements in their perception of the organization's products or services.

When calculating ROI, tangible metrics are typically easier to quantify as they have clear monetary values or measurable data. On the other hand, intangible metrics may require a more qualitative assessment, such as surveys or interviews, to gauge the impact of training. Although intangible metrics are challenging to quantify, they are crucial in showcasing the training's holistic value and long-term benefits.

Training ROI Models

It's important to carefully consider an organization's specific needs and goals when selecting a model for evaluating training effectiveness. There are several different models that organizations can use to evaluate the effectiveness of their training.

Kirkpatrick's Four Levels of Evaluation

This model consists of four levels of evaluation, starting with the most basic and progressing to more complex measures.

Kirkpatrick's Four Levels of Evaluation
  • Level 1: Reaction - Assessing participants' satisfaction and perceptions of the training.
  • Level 2: Learning - Evaluating the knowledge and skills acquired by participants during the training.
  • Level 3: Behavior - Measuring the transfer of learning to participants' behavior and performance on the job.
  • Level 4: Results - Examining the impact of training on organizational goals and outcomes.

The framework allows organizations to systematically assess the effectiveness and impact of their training initiatives, from participant feedback to organizational results. By evaluating training at each level, organizations can identify areas for improvement and demonstrate the value of their training investments.

Phillips' ROI Methodology

Phillips' ROI Methodology is a model for calculating a training Return On Investment (ROI). The model involves identifying the costs and benefits of the training and comparing them to determine the net return on the investment. It expands on Kirkpatrick's Four Levels of Evaluation and includes five levels:

Phillips' ROI Methodology
  • Planning and Action - Assessing participant satisfaction and commitment to applying the learning.
  • Evaluation - Evaluating the acquisition of knowledge and skills, emphasizing the quality and depth of learning.
  • Application and Implementation - Measuring the extent to which participants apply the learned skills in their work and assessing the impact on performance.
  • Impact - Assessing the overall impact of the training on organizational goals and performance indicators.
  • Calculation - Calculate the training investment's financial return by comparing the monetary benefits and costs incurre

The ADDIE Model

This model is a systematic approach to training design and evaluation that consists of five stages: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. The evaluation stage involves assessing the effectiveness of the training in achieving its desired outcomes. This model ensures that the training effectively meets the organization's and the trainees' needs.

  • Analysis: Involves identifying training needs, defining goals, and understanding the target audience.
  • Design: Focuses on creating a detailed plan, including learning objectives, instructional strategies, and assessment methods.
  • Development: Involves creating training materials and resources based on the design specifications.
  • Implementation: The phase where the training program is delivered to the learners.
  • Evaluation: Assesses the effectiveness of the training program and gathers feedback for improvement.

Additional Steps for Measuring Training ROI

When measuring training ROI, these are some of the additional steps to consider:

Additional Steps for Measuring Training ROI
  • Capture and track all costs and investments associated with the training program.
  • Measure pre- and post-training performance to evaluate the impact.
  • Quantify tangible benefits such as increased sales, reduced errors, or cost savings.
  • Regularly evaluate and improve the training program based on ROI analysis.
  • Involve stakeholders throughout the process for input and alignment.
  • Use multiple data sources to gather comprehensive insights.
  • Consider the appropriate timeframe for measuring ROI based on training outcomes.
  • Account for training transfer by assessing the application of skills and knowledge in the workplace.
  • Include opportunity costs of employee time spent in training.
  • Conduct post-training follow-up to assess sustained impact.
  • Benchmark ROI results against industry standards for context.
  • Implement continuous monitoring to track trends and make timely adjustments.
  • Seek expertise from consultants or experts in training evaluation if needed.
  • Communicate ROI findings and actionable insights to stakeholders effectively.

By following these tips, organizations can enhance their ability to measure training ROI effectively, obtain meaningful insights, and make informed decisions for optimizing training and maximizing their impact on business outcomes.


When measuring training ROI, organizations should choose an approach that aligns with their needs and resources. It is important to follow best practices such as setting clear objectives, selecting relevant metrics, collecting baseline data, and continuously improving the measurement process.

With this comprehensive understanding and practical insights into measuring training ROI, organizations can make data-driven decisions, optimize training, and achieve greater returns on their training investments.

Promote growth and development by exploring Edstellar's comprehensive platform for instructor-led training. Discover how our all-in-one solution can empower your employees and foster a culture of continuous learning, leading to your organization's triumph in a dynamic business environment. Request a demo or complete the inquiry form on our website to get started.

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Pete Ford

Pete Ford is a corporate training specialist with over 15 years of experience. His expertise lies in training methodologies, employee engagement, and performance improvement. Pete has a proven track record of developing and implementing effective training programs that enhance employee skills and productivity. His writings provide valuable insights into the world of corporate training, offering readers practical advice on how to design and deliver impactful training programs. His deep understanding of training dynamics makes him a trusted voice in the field.

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