Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a non-partisan agency that works at the request of Congress, was asked to check into the effectiveness of training in government agencies. There were 23 agencies surveyed ranging from the Department of Agriculture to Homeland Security to the EPA. The survey included every major agency of our government. Below is a quote directly from GAO report GAO-13-321:
“About half of the agencies—12 of 23—did not have insight into whether their acquisition workforce training investment is improving individual skills or agency performance. In particular, in response to our questionnaire and subsequent data request 7 of 23 agencies reported having no metrics to monitor or assess the effectiveness of their acquisition workforce training efforts, a measure of whether the training investment is improving individual skills or agency performance.” (Emphasis mine.)
Half of Government Agencies Have No Idea If Their Training Is Effective
That’s right—more than half of these agencies had no idea if their training was effective or not! What about the other half? What sort of insight did they have? The following quote from the report provides details:
“Of the 11 agencies that provided information to support their use of metrics, 3 reported using end-of-course evaluations to measure participants’ reaction, one reported using end-of-course tests to measure changes in employees’ knowledge, and one reported using post-course surveys to supervisors or participants to measure if what was learned affected the participants’ behavior. The other 6 agencies reported measures aimed at determining the impact of training on the agency’s mission. Furthermore, DHS officials said that they plan to begin using post-course surveys of participants and supervisors in fiscal year 2013, and they are pursuing the development of additional measures to evaluate the impact of training on the agency. VA is also pursuing the development of additional metrics, such as proxy measures for return on investment, to evaluate the impact of training on the agency.”
You’ll notice their use of perception surveys, as we discussed in an earlier post For Training, Is Perception Reality?
Does Your Business Measure Training Effectiveness?
The U.S. government spends tens of millions of dollars (your tax dollars) on training each year and they don’t even know if it’s effective or not. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on our government. Most businesses are no better. Most organizations have no concrete idea if their training is effective or not either. Some take no measure at all, not even those end-of-course surveys asking if the student liked the training and the instructor.
We’ve talked about measurement on this blog many, many times now. Measurement is the only way to know if your training was effective or not. It’s the only way to know if your dollars spent are worth it or not. If you don’t know the ROI on your training efforts, you can change that. To measure outcomes and ROI, check out our Business Impact 2.0. It measures and analyzes the impact of the training and provides detailed reports after training is complete. The reports tell you specifically what employees retained, what behavior change occurred, and what impact that change makes to your bottom line. You will know immediately if your training makes an impact, on both your employees and your organization.
Does it frustrate you as a taxpayer that your tax dollars are spent on training that may not be effective? As an employee, employer, or training professional, are you equally frustrated that your organization’s training dollars have no accountability? I’d love to hear your comments. Tell me what you think.
Want to know how to measure training ROI? Contact eParamus.
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