Foundation skills programmes covers the core skill sets that underpin business literacy. They’re the skills all employees ideally need to have. But, how effective is foundation skills training in developing those skills and how can you ensure it makes maximum impact? In short, how can you be confident that you’re getting the right return from a foundation skills training programme?
What are we measuring?
Understanding and measuring ROI can be tricky, not least because it can be difficult to identify what to measure. Also, some things are just plain difficult to measure accurately. From a purely financial perspective, you can look to the savings a training programme might bring then audit where and how the training budget is spent. Aligning training with business goals gives you another dimension to assess the impact skills training can have. Setting and monitoring KPIs allow you visibility on changes in behaviours and performance and bridging performance gaps.
But to assess the overall impact of a foundation skills training programme, you need to regard it holistically and evaluate its influence on the business culture and working environment. Here you’re looking not just at the return, but also the value added.
Finding economies of scale
People often point to how costly training can be. The cost includes not only developing and running a training programme, but also lost productivity as cohorts of employees are taken away from their work to participate in training sessions.
One big advantage of a bought-in, ready-made, ready-to-go training programme is that you save on training development costs. Most training programmes now feature some elearning which can handle more people learning simultaneously than with classroom-based training.
Elearning programmes give learners the flexibility to access training at a time that suits and remove the excuse for missing a vital training session. Learners can study at their own pace rather than the pace set by the instructor or administrator, so you’re not leaving people behind or stopping people getting ahead.
Training accessed from the desktop, or increasingly from mobile devices moves training into the work-space increasing its relevance and utility. And, once purchased, elearning resources can be used and re-used countless times across platforms, devices and sites.
Investing in quality
If those are the economies, consider also what you’re gaining. Foundation skills programmes cover a variety of skills, for a variety of industries and working environments. That breadth alone is something that would be hard to replicate internally. New modules and topics are being added all the time and there are frequent updates and upgrades you can avail of.
The training is developed by subject matter experts so you can be sure you’re getting best-practice and industry-standard content. Using a foundation skills programme ensures you have a standardised approach to essential competencies.
If you introduce employees to the foundation skills programme at the onboarding stage, you’re encouraging them to see learning as a key part of working within the organisation. This can be tied to career development so that they feel that, as they continue to work, they’ll be supported in the very skills they’ll need to succeed. The comprehensive nature of foundation skills training also means that it’s equally applicable and relevant to more experienced employees. Its extensive reach means it can be promoted and delivered across the organisation to drive up skills across the board.
Putting practice over theory
The biggest challenge for any training programme is to turn theory into practice: to have learners apply what they’ve learned. Foundation skills training programmes privilege practice over theory, focusing on what you need to perform tasks and improve your performance.
Elearning modules often include scenarios, games and simulations which replicate the working environment. Employees are shown how to apply the knowledge they’ve gained in a variety of situations and are challenged to complete tasks in a variety of realistic contexts.
In this fail-safe environment, trainees can experiment with different scenarios and understand the consequences of a wrong decision without compromising their work. This broader understanding of how training can and should be applied will instil them with the confidence to use what they’ve learned in their work without fear of failure. Better prepared workers perform better.
However, no matter what a programme offers, it’ll be ineffective if it’s not taken up. The emphasis on practicality and transfer-ability of skills in the foundation skills programme is a start, but training needs to be fully accessible.
Accessibility can mean a couple of things. Firstly, how easy is it to get to the training and find what you need? Using digital resources from elearning modules and making them available on mobile devices removes the barriers you find with classroom training and even within an LMS. But, accessibility also applies to how the training is delivered and the learning design techniques that make it relevant and useful to time-pressured, modern learners who have the benefit of accessing information on the Internet round the clock.
Encouraging learners towards these resources through training drives and promoting and facilitating a culture of learning – right from the outset – is one motivating agent. Another is recognition of learning through informal acknowledgement by managers and team leaders to formal performance appraisals. Added to that, you can tie your foundation skills training to CPD schemes making the link between training, performance and career progression transparent and explicit.
Acknowledging the benefits
If your foundation skills training is working, you should be seeing those KPIs move in the right direction. You should see gaps in performance decreasing as people acquire new skills and gain confidence in applying them in their work. Successes like these need to be called out and recognised by the organisation to highlight the connection between more systematic and relevant training and the impact it’s having in vital areas of the business.
If it’s not working, then make use of the huge flexibility built-in to the elearning programmes. The digital content can be easily updated and repurposed to work in a variety of settings.
Consider breaking up modules and redelivering them in bite-size, easily-digestible chunks. Use the content to create a searchable database of resources that can provide just-in-time information which people can use on the spot to fix a pressing problem. Repurposing content as quizzes or assessments helps you judge retention of information and to provide people with what they still need to know.
Reconfiguring content into usable resources presents employees with the opportunity to take charge of their own learning development. So, instead of pushing training at them, you’re allowing this internet-savvy, social media engaged generation the chance to ‘pull’ what’s useful to them, creating a more personal and sustainable way of learning.
The sheer scope and reach of foundation skills programmes mean that they’re indispensable to the entire organisation. Everyone can benefit and the cost of not implementing the programme or failing to integrate into the business is considerable and not a price worth paying.
Your key metrics such as KPI or budgeting should give you some direct sense of ROI. But, beyond the hard numbers are some broader, but highly significant ways of assessing training’s impact.
Essentially, we’re talking about the overall health of the organisation. This is reflected in figures for staff turnover, absenteeism rate, and staff retention. These are indicators of a better workplace that has an engaged workforce, able to work together and communicate as a team and use that sense of connection to improve productivity.
Recognising the value add
Training is a core, strategic activity that at its most effective adds value. That strategic role can be cemented by aligning it directly and clearly to the organisation’s business goals. It has greatest impact when it’s tied to job roles and practices and moved closer to work and into the workflow. People then see the benefits and direct applicability of training and engage with it.
Foundation skills training offers a wide range of modules, written and approved by experts, tied to CPD and other industry-approved accreditation, and delivered via elearning to ensure flexible and accessible training when and where it’s needed. Implemented and integrated correctly foundation skills training provides a measurable ROI in enhanced performance and in the retention and development of people.
By using foundation skills training to motivate, develop and retain talent, you’re not only getting a good ROI, you’re also really adding value.
Find out more
Learning Pool’s elearning catalogues are all CPD accredited and available immediately, so why not try a free demo now and see how our Foundation Skills Catalogue can help you and your organisation get clear and measurable ROI.
Ryan is responsible for looking after Learning Pool’s learning libraries. He’s always looking for ways to innovate our learning offer by accelerating trends and finding solutions to the needs of every sector Learning Pool works with.
His aim is to build great relationships that enable growth in learning libraries, explore new and existing markets and develop stronger relationships with our customers.
Ryan has a pedigree of Product Management across HR technologies and learning specifically.
Outside of the office, Ryan has a wide range of interests from sports to science! Most often, you’ll find him on long walks through the Dales.