How to Measure Employee Development

  • Ezra
  • September 14th, 2021

Ezra discusses how to measure employee development initiatives more effectively using concrete metrics, and how to use those metrics to discover whether the approach is working or whether you need to make changes.

How to Measure Employee Development

Most business leaders recognize the value of providing professional development for employees. Benefits include higher productivity to lower absenteeism. However, relatively few are measuring the results of their efforts – and that’s a problem.

The issue is this: the effectiveness of employee development programs can vary wildly. Sometimes, you’ll hit the nail on the head first time around and deliver a training program that yields maximum ROI for your organization. But other times, you’ll miss the mark. Thus, if you don’t collect employee development data, you’ll have no idea you’re going wrong. 

Don’t underestimate the benefits of effective employee development. 94 percent of employees say that they would stay with companies longer if they received regular training (meaning lower turnover). And companies that invest in development have profits that are 24 percent higher than their rivals. Furthermore, 74 percent of employees say that with the right professional development, they would be able to reach their potential. 

So, knowing this, how can you go about measuring employee development effectively? 

Assess talent at the interview stage

First impressions count. So you’ll want to start measuring employee development right from the get-go. You can usually discern candidate quality within the first few minutes of speaking to them. 

Ask yourself questions such as: 

  • Does the candidate inspire trust and confidence?
  • Is the candidate teaching me things that I didn’t already know? 
  • Does the candidate provide original, unique answers to generic questions? 
  • Does the candidate have a passion for the business? 
  • Is the candidate time-flexible and able to dedicate themselves to the brand? 

The answers you give to these questions will give you a rough idea of the candidate’s level of professional development. This information can then help you narrow down your options if you are currently hiring. 

Measure engagement levels

You’ll also want to measure employee engagement. According to the latest Gallup poll, around 51 percent of employees feel disengaged in the workplace, with a further 13 percent describing themselves as “actively disengaged.”

This is bad news. Statistically speaking, it means that the majority of your workforce isn’t committed to your organization.

You can measure engagement through internal surveys. You’ll need to ask employees questions relating to their opinions of: 

  • Team work
  • Value and recognition
  • Confidence in your brand’s future
  • Career development opportunities
  • Trust in leaders and coworkers

This information will provide you with a range of dimensions across which to assess engagement, including professional development. You can then compare engagement before and after training. 

Measure efficiency

You can also measure employee efficiency to determine whether your training programs are having an effect. This metric is particularly critical if training primarily concerns developing job-specific technical skills. By measuring efficacy, you can work out whether you are getting a return on your investment. 

For instance, suppose that an employee development program costs you $5,000. That might sound like a lot of money. But if it increases average worker value-added by $2,500 per year and you have ten workers, that’s a total gain of $25,000 (implying an ROI of 400 percent). 

To calculate employee productivity, you can use the simple equation total output divided by total input

For instance, suppose that your business produces $1 million worth of services using 10,000 labor hours. In this case, the output is the provision of the services and the input is the labor hours. Dividing output by input yields $100 per hour. Perform this calculation both before and after training to see whether labor productivity improved. 

(Note that many factors determine labor productivity, so other variables such as recessions or changes in consumer tastes may cloud these figures). 

Use a goal-based framework

Some company executives and managers like to measure employee development based on outcomes. Here, managers set objectives and then measure team members’ progress towards them.

Goals are helpful because they provide individual employees with metrics they can work towards. So, for instance, your goal might be for each person on your sales team to sell a specific number of goods to customers. Goals let you compare the relative performance of employees, allowing you to identify those most in need of training. 

Monitoring goals is critical for employees’ growth plans too. In many cases, it can help them better manage their careers because it provides them with key insights on their natural talents and abilities. 

Setting good goals for employees is a skill in itself. You’ll want to make sure that goals: 

  • Align with company objectives
  • Are specific to the type of work that the employee does
  • Are attainable
  • Use the SMART framework (or something similar)
  • Are consistent between employees in the same roles

Use peer review

Academic circles function on the basis of peer review. That’s because it is usually only peers who are in a position to evaluate the quality of colleagues’ work. 

The same holds true in your organization. Team members’ peers are often in the best position to discuss their colleagues’ strengths, weaknesses and where they could improve. 

Establishing a successful peer review process can be challenging in some organizations. Team members might not want to ask for critical feedback. 

Because of this, senior leaders need to step in and encourage a change in the culture. Learning from mistakes and discussing personal limitations should be the norm. When leaders seek feedback on their own performance, it encourages colleagues to do the same. 

Hours worked vs tasks completed

Sometimes, leaders are in the luxurious position of being able to measure how many tasks employees complete per hour. This metric is critical in both salaried roles and those that pay by the hour. It tells you how much workers are getting done in a specific time period (making it similar to the efficiency metric discussed above). However, because it operates at the employee level, it is less prone to contamination, giving you a clearer picture of the effects of training. 

Again, you can measure hours worked versus tasks completed as a simple equation before and after a development program. Just divide tasks completed by hours worked to get a figure. Then use this as a benchmark to see whether performance is rising.

How to Measure Employee Development

There are a wide variety of methods and touchpoints to understand the impact of employee development initiatives within a team or wider organization. Tying those measurements back to the original objectives of the activity and ensuring that qualitative, as well as quantitative, feedback is taken on board is the best way to adapt approaches to maximize current and future success.

Turn coaching into your company’s superpower with Ezra’s world-class employee coaching, built to fit into today’s working life. We’ve redesigned leadership coaching for the modern age to help transform people through affordable, scalable and high-impact solutions, with equitable access through our world-class coaching app. Find out today how digital coaching could make a big difference to your organization.

Related Articles