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Is training really an investment?

Training is an investment. Without having effective mechanism of evaluation of learning in training, investment goes into the vain. Discuss. Also elaborate how learning is evaluated?

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Question asked by sanjaya_paudel

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shantamilan profile image

Investment is a term used to explain any type of spending, may it be monetary or others, in expectation to receive higher gain that that was initially expended. The term is loosely used in in almost every sector these days for example, stock trade, education, health, etc. Similarly training is also considered as an investment as training is given to gain higher return of more competitive and skilled manpower in an organization.

These organizations understand that training helps them to remain competitive by continually educating their workforce. Organizations invest in training because they believe a skilled workforce represents a competitive advantage. However, training is not as intuitive as it may seem. Therefore, decisions about what to train, how to train, and how to implement and evaluate training should be informed by the best information science has to offer. (Salas, Tannenbaum, Kraiger, & Smith-Jentsch, 2012)

Thus giving training is important whereas understanding that the training has achieved its goal is another side of the same coin. Without proper evaluation of the training, the management will not know if the training was successful.

Decenzo and Robbins (2010) explains, training or development given in an organization should always outweigh the cost of the program. To understand this it is vital to develop substantial tests to collect and analysis data and ascertain that the training has achieved what it was meant for. (DeCenzo & Stephen, 2010, p. 224)

For example in my organization we had an SPSS training a few month back. It was one of the best trainings I have been in quite a while. The HR department was consulted and it was agreed that every department would have at least one staff to take part in the training. The trainer was a certified NIIT facilitator and was very good at what he taught. But after a few days we found that the training was more related to profit oriented company with practical session in correlation and regression and many participants did not understand these topics. This training even though was very useful it was not implemented after the training by all the participants. This goes to show that training in both its designing stage and post training evaluation should be conducted to show if the issue it was originally meant for has been dealt with. I personally think the investment in the training was a loss. Therefore every organization must have effective mechanism of evaluating the learning in training or else the investment goes into the vain.

Learning can be evaluated on different basis.

1. Return on Investment:
If increase or decrease in cost, sales, production, turnover or revenue can be calculated then ROI is a useful tool. This basically divides the turnover by the cost of the training.

2. Kirkpatricks model:
This model is used to find the effectiveness of the training and is also useful for when there are no readily available variable that can be calculated or seen. It has four levels.

Level one measures the reaction of the participants towards the training. This may answer if they understood the trainer, whether the training was fruitful to their goals and if they have any suggestions

Level two measures the increase in knowledge. A pre and post training is very effective in calculating this. In an agriculture training program, the farmers are given a pre and post test called the Ballot Box Test to determine how much they have learned in the training.

Level three measure the behavioural changes of the participants and is calculated by the superior.

Level four measures whether the training was fruitful for the employer. This can be calculated with ROI if possible or by comparing it with a similar benchmark.

3. Performance Based Evaluation
Post training is one of the performance based evaluation approach. This is usually done to see if the participants have understood the training and have been using the tools in their work. For example a small survey is conducted a month after the training is given.

Pre-Post training is a good way to understand if the participants have learned from the training. This can be an immediate evaluation technique. As mentioned earlier an agriculture training that goes on for 22 weeks in the field undertakes this evaluation method through Ballot Box Training approach. The farmers have to drop their assigned serial number in the right answer box. This is later collected and seen how much they have learned.

Pre-Post training performance method in wit controlled group is one of the most effective tool. In an agriculture training called Farmers Field School the main objective is to show them that a agriculture system called Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is superior that their traditional practice. So for this two equal plot of 500 m sq are prepared side by side. One plot is cultivate with the traditional practice while the other is done under the IPM technique. Every week the finding are compared. At the end of the 22 weeks the farmers can see that there is more production in the IPM plot as compared to their plot (controlled plot).

These are some way trainings can be evaluated.


DeCenzo, D. A., & Stephen, P. R. (2010). Evaluating Training and Development Effectiveness. In S. R. David A DeCenzo, Fundamentals of Human Resource Management (p. 225). United States of America: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Salas, E., Tannenbaum, S. I., Kraiger, K., & Smith-Jentsch, K. A. (2012). The Science of Training and Development in Organizations: What Matters in Practice. SAGE Journal , 28.

sachitabhattarai profile image

Investment means putting your money, efforts and time into something in expectation of getting some benefit in the present or future. While Training refers to the teaching and learning, activities conducted with the aim of helping the members of an organization to increase their skills, abilities, and attitudes. Today every organization provides training to their employees irrespective of their skills and qualification.

Training is an integral part of any organization; it equips the employees with skills required to perform the job. Every organization invests in training (Verma, 2014). The organizations send their selective employee to the get the training at various institutions or even inside the organizational building, which will later bring excellent profits to the business. Only providing training is not sufficient. The trainee should add value to the skills of an employee and the organization. A recent survey indicates that 40 per cent of employees who receive poor job training leave their positions within the first year. They cite the lack of skills training and development as the principal reason for moving on (ROMICH, 2017). Evaluating the learning in training is important to examine the following aspects;

  • It helps to identify if the needs and objectives are met by the help of training or not
  • What kind of benefits it is offering the organization
  • If it has brought any significant changes in employees performance There are four levels of evaluation suggested by Kirkpatrick (1994). They are as follows:

Level One: Reaction

Level 1 describes about the reaction of the employee regarding the training they enrolled. According to Kirkpatrick, evaluating the reaction is to customer satisfaction. It talks about the reaction of the students and thoughts about the training experience. It gives immediate response and thoughts if the training was purposeful, whether the students felt engaged, to which extent it was valuable, and if the training was relevant. Similarly, in the case of organization, immediate employee reaction helps them to evaluate the effectiveness of the training and the improvements needed in the future. A variety of sources estimates that approximately 80 percent of training events include Level 1 evaluation (Donald L. Kirkpatrick, 2013).

Level Two: Evaluate Learning

This level measures if the learning objectives has obtained. It is a ‘test’ to determine if the learning has been transferred to the target audience. Measuring learning helps to determine the change in the behavior that comes only if learning objective has achieved. For example, a company sends his HR to attain the three days session on human resource training. After three days, it is necessary to find out what the HR learned, how much knowledge has he acquired, his skills are developed or are still the same.

Level Three: Behavior

According to Kirkpatrick (2012), this level evaluates the extent to which behavior has changed as required when people attending the program have returned to their jobs. This level evaluates the impact of jobs on training. It involves ‘what change has occurred after attending a training program?’ It find out if any change occurred and if not then why the change did not occur.

Level Four: Evaluate Results

The forth level of Evaluation measures the impact of training on business results. This level includes the desire result an organization has determined to achieve. It measures effect on production, quality, efficiency, sales, profits, job satisfaction, high morale, and customer satisfaction and employee retention in an organization.

Therefore, training should add value to the organizations as well as employees performance. If the training only includes sitting in a chair and passing, you time because you do not want to go to office then the investment, which the organization is putting into goes into vain.

Donald L. Kirkpatrick, J. D. (2013, February 27). Training Industry . Retrieved from Measurement and Analytics: trainingindustry.com

Kirkpatrick, D. L. (2012). Armstrong’s Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice. London, United Kingdom: kogan page.


Verma, N. (2014). Training is an investment, not an expense. Linked In .

dipadhungana profile image

Training is the use of systematic and planned instruction activities to promote learning. It is an organized activity aimed at imparting information and/or instructions to improve the recipient’s performance or to help him or her attain a required level of knowledge or skill. As per Tenorio & Sanchez, “ Training is the process that begins with the study of worker needs and includes plans to increase and improve the attitudes and skills of employees and their adaptation within an organization.” In any organization, incorporating training that develops employees towards long-term career goals can promote greater job satisfaction. Training should be systematic: specifically designed, planned and implemented. It is proactive strategy which strengthens the productivity and helps in adapting with the changes in environment.

Training is an investment because a lot of resources (time, money, effort, expert knoewledge) are to be deployed while conducting training. No company can expect improved productivity if investment in people is not in its agenda. Companies invest in training to bridge the gap between employees’ present capabilities and their present job requirements so that they can keep the qualified and productive workers who will help the company succeed (Singh & Sthapit, 2008). Training offers return by bringing out the best out of people’s talent and helping in retention of the staff. However it may take some time to see the return on investment because training not always deals with what is strictly practiced and it is not always directly applicable to daily tasks of the employees. But the longterm gain from training will make a big difference to the company. The more trained the employees are, the more valuable they are and this makes the company and its products and/or services more valuable (Zahra, n.d.). The investment in training is made to yield return in the form of increased employee loyalty, decreased turnover, flexibility in the market, higher production, reduced errors, lower internal costs, more motivated employees and competitive advantage over other companies. For example the intensive, month-long training and leadership program to the prospective employees prior their hiring in Amazon is one of the the reasons behind its success as an e-commerce company.

Training is considered as good investment if it is effective, enagaging and successful in generating the desired results. If no knowledge, skills, capabilities, behaviors and attitudes are developed in the employees post training, the time, money and effort spent on conducting the training is wasted. Training succeeds only when individuals goals are aligned with the training objectives, the other people in the organization supports the newly learned skills and attitudes, trainees have opportunity to apply newly learned abilities and there are sufficient resources to practice new learning (Beer, Finnstorm, & Schrader, 2016). If training is considered as a formality and there is no evaluation of the learning outcomes from the training, the investment goes in vain. For example a company decides to switch to new mangement software as it will improve the functionability of the company. Before purchasing the software, it organizes a training for the employees. Without evaluating the learning properly, the company purchases the software based on the assumption that the employees have learned what was delivered in the training. On applying the learning of the training in the actual workplace, the employees fail. In this case, the investment made both on the software and training has no value addition.

The evaluation of learning in training is important to find out the effectiveness of the training as well as to plan future training activities. Kirkpatrick has given the following four levels for evaluating the learning:

Level 1 - Reaction: This level helps to understand how well the training was received by the audience. The reactions are typically measured at the end of the training program to know the degree of satisfaction, engagement and relevency of the training program. If majority feels the training as useful and informative, the training is considered effective.

Level 2 – Learning: This level helps to measure the degree of knowledge, skills and attitudes learned by the trainees. It helps to find out the principles, facts and techniques understood and absorbed by the participants. It can be evaluated only after the training or both before and after the training. If the learning of the employees match the objectives set prior the training, the training is effective.

Level 3 – Behavior: This level specifically looks over how the trainees apply the information provided on the training. Training is said to be effective if it brings about the expected changes in the trainees’ job behavior. Both pre and post evaluation is done to find out the change in behavior.

Level 4 – Result: This level assesses the benefits of training against its costs and aims on finding the added value of learning and development program. It involves both pre and post measuremnet of the training. The measurement is easier when quantified.
The training effectiveness can also be evaluated through visual confirmation (uploading video or audio recording or any other visual proof of task completed), social ownership (teaching others by showing how the training concepts can be applied in real life) and skill assessment (assessment of employees’ skills sets and performance before and after training) (Eades, 2014).

Beer, M., Finnstorm, M., & Schrader, D. (2016). The Great Training Robbery. Harvard Business School. Retrieved from hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20File...

Eades, J. (2014, September 30). eLearning Industry . Retrieved from elearningindustry.com/3-ways-measu...

Kirkpatrick, D. L. (1994). Evaluating Training Programmes. San Francisco: Berret-Koeher.

Singh, T. M., & Sthapit, A. (2008). Human Resource Management. Kathmandu: Taleju Prakashan.

Tenorio , G. J., & Sanchez, S. R. (2004). Fundamentos de Dir.y Gestion de Recursos Humanos. Madrid.

Zahra, M. (n.d.). Misco . Retrieved from The Sunday Times of Malta: misco.miscomalta.com/content.aspx?id=381867

angel profile image
Angel Paudel

Training in simple terms is organized activities aiming at improving the skills or a type of behavior with the use of instructions and/or sustained practice. In an organizational context, it is an attempt which is well planned to improve the performance of an employee.

Training is an investment as it is one of the most important part of an organization and it’s identify. It creates a win-win situation for both where employee and employer emerge as a winner. It enables an employee to acquire new skills, increasing the contribution of the individual in the business and may enable them to be ready for a better position within the organization; giving them more incentives to work harder while delivering what they have to do in the best possible way. It also helps them stay fresh and motivated with upskillment to do various different activities within organization structure. It also gives the employee a feeling that they’re being valued and cared about with proper timed training programs making them stay with the organization they’re in. While looking at the other and most important end to suggest training being an investment, we look at what it has to offer to an employer. It does uplift the skills, motivation and the level of confidence in the organization of an employee helping the organization retain their best skilled force glued together to deliver better results. It also gives a competitive advantage over other companies if you’re able to retain and acquire quality workforce with perks as in training and development programs. It increases the loyalty of the employee towards the organization as they feel they’re being cared by the organization as they feel like they’re being appreciated and valued. Also, it helps retain the employee, reducing the turnover and the cost along. It also removes that vacuum period in between to fill in the position which would have otherwise brought financial losses along with a phase of hiring process. All this suggest that training is an investment and not an expenditure.

Having said training is an investment, it can very well go other side as well to it not being an investment but rather an expenditure alone. To counter this and to improve the overall training program as well it does need an effective mechanism of evaluation of learning. Without having an effective mechanism of evaluation of learning, there is no way to know the outcome of the training – what was the reaction like, if the trainee even acquired the key skill sets they were supposed to gain from the training program, do their on-job behavior change due to training and the measurable results from the training itself need to be analyzed along with the return of investment of the training program. Without effective evaluation method none of those can be checked/analyzed, bring in the need for proper mechanism of evaluation of learning.

To counter those issues, learning is evaluated with the use of following two key methods:

Kirkpatrick Method: It is the most widely used method with over 90% of the business using this method to evaluate learning. It is further divided into four levels which are as explained:

  • Reaction: This step helps to measure how the trainee reacted to the overall training program including the content, trainer and the overall experience. This helps in identifying if the training is well received or not while also helping to improve the training program for future trainees. This model can be applied by the use of questionnaires or with employee satisfaction surveys.
  • Evaluate Learning: In this step, the objective is to analyze if an individual’s knowledge increased due to the training and what they’ve learned from it. This can be applied by analyzing the level of skills, knowledge and attitudes before and after the training and comparing them.
  • Evaluate Behavior: In this step, it looks at how the trainees apply the information they’ve gained from the training. It also analyzes how much trainees have change in their behavior after the training. This process can be tested with observation and scheduled interview over a time.
  • Evaluate Results: In this step, outcomes, benefits or the final result as a whole is analyzed of the training. It is one of the time consuming and costly process but helps identify the objectives of the training and to what extent those are met. One example of it can be comparing the sales figure of a target group before and after the completion of the training for a certain time period. ROI Method: It mostly focuses on the money aspect as is clear from the name itself in ‘Return on Investment’. It requires a lot less effort, time and money to conduct the following method of evaluation however is one lest preferred. It’s done by multiplying the difference of benefits of training and cost of training by hundred and then dividing it with the total cost of the training.