An impactful audit measures tangible results — such as new skill development as a result of training — and more nuanced results such as acquired skills that translate into improved performance and contribute to organizational goals.
Added to this, L&D exists in a highly dynamic environment (thank you, AI). Every time you get to auditing your existing training programs, you’re looking directly at another big transformation. You need to reconsider the training methods, update your tech stack, and often even re-evaluate your goals — what you envisioned a year ago may no longer align with your business strategy and the changing L&D landscape.
Fear not, it’s a big job, but it doesn’t have to be a hurdle.
The need to conduct a training audit
Training budgets are growing1 steadily, and so are the expectations from learning leaders. Now that learning and development (L&D) is becoming the C-suite’s strategic partner, aligning learning programs to business strategies is L&D’s top priority.2
With L&D taking a leading role in shaping how employees grow, there’s a bigger responsibility. In other words, you should be able to show results from employee training, namely validate it actually contributes to business performance. And the only way to ensure this is by reviewing and updating your L&D programs regularly.
Here are the key tasks you’ll accomplish with the help of the training and development audit:
Identifying skill gaps
In a decade, skills required to perform a job changed by 25%2. There’s a great chance your training program doesn’t address the shifting skill requirements if you don’t update it regularly.
A training audit pinpoints these skill gaps and ensures your training program is in sync with the evolving business needs.
Measuring the ROI of employee training
Despite the changing objectives, too many L&D professionals continue to use vanity metrics like learner satisfaction and engagement to gauge training effectiveness. Far more beneficial is a comprehensive training audit, moving beyond vanity metrics to incorporate business metrics into the analytics.
By measuring training ROI, you’ll showcase how the training initiatives contribute not only to individual employee development but also to the overall success and profitability of the organization. This is how you demonstrate the value of employee training to stakeholders and justify your budget requests.
Where the ROI is not hitting targets, the audit can help you to identify weak spots in the training that need to be improved in order to succeed going forward.
Updating training content to reflect regulatory changes
If industry regulations affect the way your employees operate, they should be reflected in your training and development programs.
For instance, as environmental legislation becomes more stringent, many businesses need to adapt to sustainable practices. If applicable to your industry, your training programs will need to incorporate the latest guidelines on reducing carbon footprints, waste management, and sustainable sourcing.
Auditing and updating your content frequently allows you to keep your workforce informed on the latest regulations and mitigate compliance risks. Read more about how KPMG and Gjensidige invested in Attensi’s game-based training to advance their sustainability efforts.
Assessing the adequacy of current training technologies and infrastructure
It’s no secret that technology plays a huge role in modern training methods. New tools and platforms continue to emerge at an unprecedented rate, each aiming to help you increase the efficiency of your L&D initiatives.
“If you haven’t looked at your corporate learning technology for a few years now might be the time. While no company likes to spend money on these tools, they actually represent a very important platform to capture, manage, and improve your own intellectual property. And as training leaders know well, the ability to train, support, and engage employees in continuous development is a true competitive advantage.”
Global Industry Analyst3
Use your next L&D audit to evaluate whether your current tech stack aligns with the latest advancements. If you still haven’t adopted gamification, mobile learning, and AI-powered solutions, it may be time to find out what solutions have been introduced to the market that can help you achieve your targets. It’s not about updating to keep up with the latest tech. Rather, it is about finding the right solution to solve your particular challenges.
Prepping for the audit
Where do you start with an audit?
Your first step should be identifying a problem. There must be something you want to address by running this audit, be it operational inefficiencies, skill gaps, or pressure from the C-suite. Your objective will guide the entire process.
Additionally, assess the resources you can allocate to this initiative. The audit may lead to significant changes in your L&D program. So if the resources for substantial changes are limited, consider reducing the scope of the audit to align with your capacity for subsequent adjustments.
Here’s a checklist to help you get all set for a successful audit:
- Specify the goal(s): What issues are you trying to address with this audit?
- Know your resources: How much time and money do you have?
- Define the audit scope: Based on the available resources, should the audit be company-wide, department-specific, or focused on specific skills?
- Identify stakeholders: Will you need help from HR, department heads, and/or external consultants?
- Gather documentation: Where are previous training records stored?
- Create a single source of truth: Haven’t you consolidated all learning data into a centralized repository yet?
Are your existing training programs effective?
Measuring the impact of your existing training programs is the primary task of an audit.
“I believe training and learning fulfill the highest purpose with measurable contribution to human and business performance.
The data we get from our LMS (consumption, utilization, attendance) and learning surveys (sentiment, opinion, reaction) are links in the chain of evidence for learning efficiency and effectiveness but that’s not where the impact story ends.”
Kevin M. Yates
L&D Measurement Advisor4
The evaluation of your L&D initiatives doesn’t end with an employee survey. However, it may be useful to start with one.
1. Collect feedback
Start by gathering feedback from trainees. While learner satisfaction is a vanity metric when taken in isolation, it is helpful to gauge trainees’ opinions and experiences of your corporate training.
We also recommend that you go beyond collecting satisfaction scores and add context to your metrics by asking the following questions:
- Did the training provide you with new information?
- Was the training relevant to your job or potential job?
- How much of this training do you think you’ll retain?
- Do you think you’ll be able to apply the knowledge you’ve obtained in this training?
You can later use this as a starting point to delve deeper into the reasons your program doesn’t prove as effective as desired.
2. Assess employee retention and career progression
Let’s assume you’ve established a baseline by examining employee retention and internal mobility rates before the implementation of the training program. Now, you can compare the figures pre- and post-training and see if there are any noticeable shifts.
Those who haven’t measured retention rates pre-training can gauge the impact of L&D on employee development and retention, too. For instance, you may assess whether there is a noticeable improvement in job performance or if employees are showing more interest in advancing their careers within the organization.
You can also create exit interviews for departing employees who participated in the training program. Has training ever influenced their decision to leave or stay? An exit interview may reveal plenty of valuable information.
3. Validate alignment with organizational goals
“Does our L&D strategy align with your business goals and performance?” Glad you asked.
To answer this question, you need to quantify the impact of L&D initiatives on achieving organizational objectives. Showcase measurable outcomes tied to training, such as improved customer satisfaction, reduced time-to-competence, or increased efficiency in key business processes. Of course, the desired outcomes will depend on the scope of training and its objectives and so will the data collection methods.
4. Measure the ROI of training
Lastly, you definitely want to see whether the budget invested in L&D pays off.
Begin by calculating all the expenses, encompassing not only the direct expenses associated with training programs (resources, technology, external consultants, etc.) but also indirect costs such as employee time spent on training.
To calculate ROI, you need to have established pre-training metrics as benchmarks for comparison. These metrics could include the number of sales, customer lifetime value (CLV), costs associated with backfilling vacant positions, or other financial KPIs.
If you observe positive changes in your target metrics, it’s a good start, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate the cost-effectiveness of your training program. Divide the profit by the cost of training investment to measure the actual training ROI.
Note: Training ROI often appears negative, especially when you don’t have enough data or can’t properly quantify productivity gains. That’s why we recommend that you monitor the change in your ROI as you make changes to your programs rather than focus on its absolute value.
Ninety-five percent5 of L&D organizations don’t excel at turning data into tangible actions to align learning with their business objectives or increase the effectiveness of learning methods.
Right, most L&D pros today find themselves sitting on a goldmine of data, unable to act on it. This happens when training analytics isn’t tied to the objectives. You can prevent it by sticking to this action plan:
1. Shifting from training needs analysis to performance needs analysis
To ensure your training and development program aligns with your business goals, put those goals at the center of your strategy.
2. Implementing AI to personalize learning paths based on data insights
Data collection and analysis is advancing significantly with AI. With its ability to interpret data and act on it immediately, AI already takes over many data-driven tasks. An AI-powered training solution can create personalized learning experiences that adjust based on the learner’s needs and performance.
3. Creating an integrated system
Gamification, microlearning, software simulation, AI, and VR training are just some of the options you have to provide engaging and immersive L&D experiences that have real impact. However, the adoption of new solutions often results in a non-integrated system that only impedes training and development initiatives.
As you think of adding new solutions to your L&D tech stack, conduct a thorough evaluation of your existing training technologies. Look for opportunities to cut redundant systems and integrate the ones that you keep.
Filling the gaps with Attensi’s training solutions
Regular audits will help you keep a pulse on your training and development initiatives, promptly identifying the skill gaps your existing programs have left open. Attensi’s gamification team will help you fill those gaps with customized interactive learning solutions, from simulation training to AI-driven personalities that create truly immersive experiences for your trainees.