Not Seeing ROI Out of Your Employee Skills Training? Here’s What You Need.

Take a look on any employee bookshelf around your office, and you’re bound to notice a significant number of dusty training binders.

To many, they look like binders in need of a good clean, but to HR…they represent L&D dollars spent – with little to show for it.

Now, we know…those binders were placed there with full intention of being used. After all, the training was good, the inspiration was high, and the ideas were flowing over how the learning could be used back in the office.

But then reality set in, the endless stream of tasks resumed, and few managers had the chance to grab the binder off the shelf, much less implement what they learned.

And so the real ROI you hoped to get from that training? Disappointing…

And the new learning your employees were so excited about? It didn’t just go unused…

…most was unretained.

Research has shown that people tend to forget 56% of what they’ve learned within one hour.

Sixty-six percent within one day.

And 75 percent within six days.

So those dusty binders represent more than just weak ROI – they also represent wasted time.

So, what’s a company to do, especially one who’s committed to getting their employees the L&D they need to build new skills, deepen their engagement in their work, and increase their ability to boost the bottom line?

Take a training + coaching approach.

One of the only proven ways to truly get the ROI you need out of management skills training is to combine it with a coaching program. Having your employees implement their new learning with the help of a coach allows them to immediately apply what they’ve learned into their specific work situation. It also:

• Gives them a partner to help them overcome their fears of trying something new

• Personalizes implementation to deal with their unique challenges and circumstances

• Provides accountability, and gives them the opportunity to debrief what happened when the new skills or behaviors were used

Consider this case in point:

Rebecca was promoted into a manager role because she had strong subject matter expertise. Her people management skills? Not so much.

Rebecca attends a training on developing conversations skills. She leaves the class understanding that engaging employees requires a different approach – less talking and more listening.

After the class is over, Rebecca’s new learning can head down one of two paths:

1. She can try to implement her new conversation skills on her own (if she has the time and/or the memory to remember them!)

2. She can work with a coach to help her implement the new skills directly into how she interacts with her team.

Thankfully, Rebecca’s company goes with path #2. Through supporting her new learning with the help of a coach, Rebecca is able to:

• Take the time to set clearer expectations with her team

• Give feedback to direct reports by applying the conversations framework learned in the classroom in a way that is not only impactful, but starts a dialogue with her employees that didn’t exist before

• Ask more questions to understand the perspective of her direct reports before acting (and incorporate their thoughts into decisions)

• Exhibit more composure in challenging situations with peers

The implementation, practice, tweaking, and reinforcement that happens through the training + coaching approach ultimately results in Rebecca having more confidence to have necessary conversations with her direct reports, more influence with her key performers, more trust with her team, and stronger peer relationships overall.

Now that’s a significantly larger ROI for Rebecca and her company than just a dusty binder, wouldn’t you say?


Jodi Gold joined CRN in 2015. She has over 25 years experience as a human capital consultant and executive coach, working to make individuals and teams stronger in leadership, alignment, and implementation of large-scale change.

Let's Get Started Back to the Blog