Staff training and development are among the key factors that determine employee engagement, especially among Millennials.

Each time we, at my company Amerisleep, invest more time and resources into helping our team members learn new skills and hone existing ones, within months we experience double-digit increases in productivity, sales and customer happiness.

As we develop our staff, my co-founders and I see more leaders-in-the-making. Each time our employees improve their operational efficiency and effectiveness, what happens is our leadership team is less burdened with day-to-day operations and more available to focus on opportunities and solutions that have a much larger impact on the overall company.

Two things our team has done to craft a successful employee training program includes creating opportunities for collaborative learning and emphasizing long-term ROI.

Opportunities for collaborative learning

Use collaboration to enhance educational experiences that would otherwise be less engaging if they were performed entirely on their own. Rather than have employees study independently, make it easy for them to partner with their colleagues to exchange information, provide clarity, and help each other accelerate the learning process.

Collaboration is important in education because different people bring their own unique perspectives that affect the following in numerous ways:

  • Information interpretation
  • Information processing
  • Information retention

People learn from each other's backgrounds, tendencies, and experiences almost as much as they learn from the educational material itself.

Instead of just having your employees sit at their desks and complete training tasks in isolation, find ways to:

  • Replicate the classroom experience so that your training and development initiative becomes a more well-rounded educational opportunity.
  • Give your team members a space (virtual or physical) to share their training experiences with each other, and allow the benefits of communal learning to improve the process for everyone.

At IBM, the company revamped their talent management and learning programs by integrating social collaboration tools to provide what had been missing from their virtual classrooms. In smaller companies, you can host training sessions in larger conference rooms or your open office space. Alternatively, you can have off-site trainings too.

Long-term return-on-investment (ROI).

Many companies struggle to come up with reliable methods to track and evaluate the effects of their employee training. In fact, a study by LinkedIn Learning Solutions determined that only 8 percent of leaders see the business impact of their leadership and development programs and only 4 percent see their ROI, despite these being the number one and number two desired outcomes.

Rather than attempting to assess ROI on a macro-level, instead you can focus on the micro-level benefits. To estimate the effectiveness of your training initiatives, first establish a baseline among your employees for the following metrics:

  • Productivity
  • Quality of deliverables
  • Influence on sales

Ultimately, you want your staff to work smarter, not harder. After each completed training program, measure your employees' abilities to complete more projects that are better than their previous work and their deliverables' overall influence on revenues. Below are two examples: 

  1. Among customer service reps, evaluating long-term ROI of employee development should be easy. Examine how many service requests they currently handle and compare that against their results from a previous period. Calculate their customer satisfaction scores before-and-after too. Also, see how well they were able to retain and drive additional revenue from existing customers.
  2. In non-customer-facing roles such as design and engineering, measure your staff's ability to leverage cost- and time-savings tools to create better artwork and applications. Quantify how well the new webpages they created drive customer engagement, minimize bounce rates and enhance conversions.

With this, you can judge the positive impact of your employee training campaigns on a case-by-case basis. In instances where you don't see individual growth, then you can consider ways to customize that team member's personal and professional development program to help them reach their full potential.