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Improving ROI Begins with Improving Worker Performance

Written by Bob Mosher

Originally published on the Performance Support Community website on 20 February 2013

We’ve now talked about the value of demonstrating ROI for your training efforts, and we’ve talked about making sure we measure all the right things. It’s no longer enough (not sure it was ever enough) to just measure training efforts. We must trace the results of our efforts all the way through to the business and financial impact to our organization. And there must be an impact. Otherwise, we’re wasting our company resources and our employee’s time!

As learning professionals, our number one goal is to enable and sustain effective performance. If we’re serious about reaching this goal, we build and implement robust performance support—integrated with targeted training solutions—and measure the results. We need metrics to not only verify we made it into the end zone, but to also link that successful performance to financial and strategic impact. Sadly, traditional measurement efforts have often focused on all the wrong things.

“Why don’t we weigh them?”

When Gloria Gery was running a training organization at a major insurance company, she became disgusted with the typical metrics she was being asked to measure. Each month she had to provide a report on such things as:

  • number of student days
  • student/instructor ratio
  • number of “no shows,” drop-outs, and last-minute cancellations
  • dollars charged back to departments using training
  • percent utilization of facilities
  • cost per student-day
  • average “satisfaction” scores on our “smile sheet” evaluations
  • on-time completion and on-cost development of new courses
  • actual vs. planned operational budget expenditures

One day, in a meeting with her leaders she retorted, “Why don’t we weigh the students and report on a cost per pound?” She was trying to make the point that, “None of the measurements I was supposed to take asked if anyone learned anything or if our interventions changed their performance.”

Consider the measurements you are currently taking. Are you in a similar situation? Gloria rightly realized that it takes performance support, embedded in the workflow, to achieve and measure the impact of the training we do on actual worker performance. When training and performance support effectively work together, our metrics change. We can measure things like:

  • decreased time to performance
  • reduced implementation costs or cycle time (for a system, product, process, or other deliverable)
  • reduced support costs
  • reduced work handoff, fewer calls to the help desk, and fewer problems shoved off on others
  • increased customer satisfaction with organization representatives as measured by surveys, follow-up calls, and lowered complaint activity

This gets me to my point. You won’t achieve a return on your investment if you haven’t improved worker performance! If you’ve been following our blogs for any length of time, you’ve heard us harp that training alone is not enough to materially impact and sustain performance. Not only do we need to train workers, we need to support them in the workflow.

Performance support helps to bridge that gap between training and actual business impact by improving worker performance. And, measuring worker results closer to the actual point of performance will give us the data we need to help demonstrate ROI. Performance Support intervenes at the moment of performance allowing us to measure impact on that performance in ways training alone never could or will be able to. Electronic Performance Support Systems allow us to track analytics around who did what, specific to a particular business process or system. Plus, gathering this type of objective data can offset rumors and anecdotal discussions about the value of adding performance support as well as the value of training in general.

We’ve been tracking the link between performance support and improved worker performance and have seen some striking data linking performance support solutions to improved worker performance, therefore improving ROI. Here’s a bit of what we’ve seen:

  • $8,640 productivity savings per employee because performers aren’t wasting 2.4 hours of work time each week searching for answers
  • 6-8% increase in daily work productivity
  • 15% year-over-year reduction in help desk calls
  • call durations for “standard” call types reduced significantly
  • performance support used by all HR consultants and leaders to support all phases of employee lifecycle
  • up to 70% reduction in instructor-led training (be careful with this one!)
  • time to competency reduced by half

Are you tracking any performance support metrics? What benefits are you seeing?

If all this talk of analytics and numbers this month makes your head spin, come join us for the Knowledge Advisors Analytics Symposium March 6-8 where you’ll hear from companies on how they measure their programs for impact and value.

Written in Measurement Matters

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