Evaluating training programs and measuring their business impact is a hot topic these days. It wasn’t all that long ago that the HR industry was under fire for its lack of knowledge about how HR impacts the overall business. In a 2005 article by Fast Company, they state “most human-resources managers aren’t particularly interested in, or equipped for, doing business. And in a business, that’s sort of a problem. As guardians of a company’s talent, HR has to understand how people serve corporate objectives.” The article quotes Anthony J. Rucci, executive vice president at Cardinal Health Inc. as saying “business acumen is the single biggest factor that HR professionals in the U.S. lack today.”

Ouch! So it is no question that over the past decade the industry as a whole has made a big point in aligning training programs to the strategic goals of the company. Organizations like ASTD and SHRM offer countless resources to help L&D professionals make the business case for programs, understand stakeholders, and just how to collect data, evaluate the effectiveness of the training program, and calculate the ROI.

Understanding the business impact of training, or the ROI of training, is one of the most important metrics you can analyze to make the business case for training programs within your company. According to an article by SHRM, as an HRD professional you must be able to determine if learning or change has occurred. We need to know what knowledge and skills were gained and what behaviors have changed. And with a continual tightening of resources in today’s business environment, managers need to be certain that the money they are spending is money well spent.

With their Employee Development Program, Western Union invested heavily in a robust and sustainable blended learning program for their organization around the world.  With such a large and global rollout of this training initiative, executives at Western Union needed to ensure they saw a result and an ROI.  As Diane states in the third part of our interview, “We have a huge accountability in Learning and Development to be accountable for results.”

Determining ROI can be a challenging process. Diane points to this saying, “It’s one of the hardest things to measure and it’s one of the easiest things to make some assumptions about.”

Knowing that ROI was crucial to the overall success of the program, Diane worked in collaboration with Emergenetics and Complete Intelligence to design a comprehensive participant feedback model to evaluate effectiveness. The feedback served as a benchmark tool that worked in tandem with the training program and quantified the results of each module.

Feedback inquiries were developed around the content, facilitation, logistics, application and future suggestions for the program.  The feedback was administered to participants as well as the leaders of the program for added validity to the results.  The impact of the training program was remarkable.

  • 99% of Participants Cited Value in the Emergenetics Training
  • 95% of Participants Reported Increased Skills via Emergenetics

Western Union’s executives needed to see results from Diane and her team in Leadership & Development.  As part of a capitalist system, our job is to help make our organization more profitable. In the L&D world we do that by working to make people more efficient and productive, grow and thrive, and aligned with the key business goals of the company. Making the business case for training comes down to evaluating training programs to determine if there was a change in time, cost, or behavior. Ultimately, it comes down to gaining credibility within the organization- to demonstrate training’s impact on the business and the overall value of learning.

For more information on the work Emergenetics does with Western Union, check out our case study and YouTube channel for the entire video case study series where we gain key insights from Diane on this initiative.