Training – What’s my ROI?

Learning & Development


In his book “Evaluating Training Programs”, Donald Kirkpatrick proposed four ways of evaluating training programs:

  • Step 1: Reaction – How well did the learners like the learning process?
  • Step 2: Learning – What did they learn? (the extent to which the learners gained new knowledge and skills)
  • Step 3: Behavior – What changes in job performance resulted from the learning? (ability to perform the newly learned skills while on the job)
  • Step 4: Results – What are the tangible results of the learning? (in terms of reduced cost, improved quality, increased productivity, efficiency, etc.)

Many organizations are becoming more serious about evaluating training from all of these four perspectives and are therefore asking training vendors to provide methods for ensuring that training produces positive ROI, in other words, quantifiable results in excess of investment cost.


This challenge of course is a complex one because when the trainee returns to the workplace, they re-enter a tangled web of interconnected forces and dependencies, many of which resist the implementation of new learning on the job.
So a well-designed training program has to take into account the whole context within which the learning is expected to be implemented, and where the results will ultimately be measured.
What this means is that both pre-training analysis and post training follow-up must take into account the whole ecosystem where the knowledge and skills will be used to produce measurable value for the business. Without proper alignment between all the elements in the ecosystem with the content of the training, little can be realistically expected.

Trainee Ecosystem

This is the reason why training programs these days must be custom-designed, in a consultative way, taking into account all of the forces at play in the workplace.