Have you got your hands full with training in your company?


I’m sure you’re already seeing results, right?

Of course you are. And tell us, what are you noticing?

Hmmm… Well…

That’s what we thought.

The truth is that it is not easy to measure the return on investment in training (ROL for friends).

There are no clear metrics to do so, and so it is difficult to know if we are succeeding with the training strategy or if what we think is an investment is nothing more than the perfect way to throw money away.

Learning culture is all very well, but if we don’t know if it’s working or not, it’s pointless.

But relax; don’t panic, there are solutions for everything, so today we are going to explain how to calculate the ROL in your company.

Measure training or hire new professionals?

Measure or hire. That’s the question.

The question always asked by those who have never considered measuring ROL.

Of course.

Because they don’t know if the training to which they are dedicating part of their budget is profitable.

If it is of much or little (or none) use to them, or if perhaps it would be better to hire someone who has already received that training.

Well, here, as in many other things in life, the answer is «it depends».

What is clear is that in an environment like the current one, in which changes come and settle in our lives at the speed of light, either you get up to speed and train yourself to keep up with the market or bye bye.

There are those who do not want to complicate their lives and prefer to hire professionals with specific training to meet the needs of their company.

And there are those who prefer to maintain a well-trained base staff and hire only in cases where that staff is not sufficient.

The advantage of the latter?

By maintaining a well-functioning and always-prepared workforce, it is easier to adapt to new needs.

It’s as simple as adding new pieces to the structure. And, here, you decide whether it is better to train your team to meet that new need or to hire new members for your staff.

Why should we measure the return on training (ROL)?

It’s very easy: because without data we can’t make decisions.

Is your training strategy working? Is it profitable? How much?

Measuring ROL allows you to:

1. Improve your training strategy (and enhance the skills of your team that are most profitable for you)

Metrics will not only tell you if the strategy is working.

You will also be able to know if you are offering the training your team needs and which of your training lines is giving you the best return.

That is: which one is more profitable.

Meaning: which one to put more money into..

2. Quantify future investments in learning

The time has come to make the budget for your company and, with it, to decide where to invest it.

There are many departments and everyone will tell you that theirs is the most important.

Marketing will probably be one of the items that will take the biggest amount.

But you can’t forget about recruiting, purchasing equipment and, of course, training.

The question is: ¿how much should you invest in each department so that everything runs as smoothly as possible?

Balance is essential and, to make it easier, it changes according to the moment in which your company finds itself.

Knowing the ROL allows you to know the importance of the investment in learning and to allocate your budget in the most profitable way.

What data do you need to calculate the ROL?

Learning works.

But it is not immediate.

That’s the thing about it; knowledge needs time to settle.

What happens?

ROL is not as quick and easy to calculate as ROI (return on investment).

Bad news: there is no exact formula for calculating ROL.

Not so bad news: that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

By taking into account training expenses and direct profits, you will have enough information to know if it is working or not.

What expenses and revenues do you need to calculate the ROL?

1. Training costs

Some of this data will vary between online and face-to-face training, but ultimately what you need to know is:

  • The salary of the staff who participated in the training. This will normally correspond to the salary of the teaching staff, although if someone else has participated, you will also need to take this into account.
    To quantify it correctly, calculate the hourly rate.
  • The cost of the training itself. The course, contents or materials, if any.
  • The investment in technology associated with learning. Have you had to buy or develop software for the training? Then do not forget to include it in the costs.

2. Income directly related to training

If you are investing in learning, it is because you expect to make a profit in return, isn’t it?

Well, this is the time to go into Uncle Scrooge McDuck mode and count the money that has come in and is directly related to that training.

There’s money here

It’s not easy to quantify, but here are some indicators that can help you do so:

  • Has income increased related to the process you intended to improve with learning?
    What did you want to achieve? Save time? Fill a new need within your projects?
    Measure the financial results of that project before and after implementing the training and do the math.
  • Have you started new projects as a result of the training?
    This one is easy: if the training has allowed you to create a new line of income, those benefits are clearly the result of its implementation.
  • Are there other projects that have benefited from the training?
    Your team members work on several projects or processes. And their knowledge goes with them everywhere, so it is easy for one of them to have benefited from what they have learned.
    Look closely to see if the other projects your team members are involved in have also increased their revenue.

There are no standard metrics for ROL, so create your own based on these indications and calculate whether your investment in training is yielding the results you expected.


Can I apply ROI to learning?

Well, the answer is yes.

But taking into account some little things that we will tell you now.

ROI is the equivalent of ROL in contexts not specifically related to training.

It is widely used in marketing, but it is actually used to measure the profitability of any investment you make in your company, hence its name (Return on Investment).

What it does is to quantify the relationship between the investment and the benefits obtained as a result of it.

The ROL is an application of ROI to the investment in learning, so to calculate it you can use the data we suggested above to estimate a percentage of the return on investment in training.

[(benefits – investment) / investment] * 100= % ROI

The little thing we told you before that you should take into account is that in the case of investment in learning, the results may take time to be noticed.

In other words, the benefits of the training you have just given may not show up for another 3 months.

Don’t forget this when assessing whether or not you are getting the numbers right.

In learning, intangible data have a longer run

What does this mean?

It means that learning has many more benefits than just acquiring new knowledge.

If you take care of your staff with training, you will have a more motivated and involved team with the objectives of your company.

Motivation power

A more participative team that will identify with your project and will give everything to improve it. Because they will feel part of it.

And who doesn’t like to feel part of something?

Don’t underestimate the power of the feeling of belonging (it’s actually a superpower for your organization).

Supermotivation; super involvement; super team!

Okay… We’ve gotten a little excited and a little over the top.

But you get it, don’t you?

With the data we gave you earlier you can measure financial benefit, but that’s only one of the four indicators to measure ROL:

  1. Direct financial benefit.
  2. Productivity in task performance.
  3. Development of specific skills (have you heard of TSD? Well, that’s what we mean: Targeted Skill Development).
  4. Role of training as a driver of company growth.

Where can you see all this?

Well, in job satisfaction levels: happy team; happy customers.

«Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.» – Richard Branson dixit. And he hasn’t done badly in life.

It goes without saying that learning (like everything else), will go better in a team with a good vibe: if the relationship between your staff flows, all their knowledge is fed back.

And that’s cool.

Good vibes!

And if it’s a small team, you’ll find it easier to keep track of your investment.

We have already explained how ROL works and it is clear to you that it should not be calculated only in direct economic terms, but that a very important indirect benefit in the form of business productivity must be taken into account.

And now that you know how to calculate ROL in your company, what are you waiting for to find out how your training is working?

By the way, if you’re struggling with learning metrics… No worries, our tool gives you a lot of data so you can start measuring ROL.

In addition, we bring you something very cool: a free demo of Zapiens so you can try our knowledge management application in your organization.

What do you say?

Request your FREE Demo now.

With all the brains in your organization connected, your team will be more productive than ever.