Return on investment – how does work-based learning measure up?

Return on investment – how does work-based learning measure up?

If you decide to implement work-based learning in your organisation, courtesy of the Apprenticeship Levy, it’s fundamentally about developing and nurturing talent. So can you also be sure that there’s something measurable in it for you – in other words, is it worth your investment? You train and educate your apprentices to increase their skills and knowledge and enable them to give something back to the company. Let’s look at what can be measured, and how.

What to measure?

This will vary depending on the organisation, but you need to consider what really matters. The best outcome is that you retain your newly-improved employees. However retention will flow naturally from other factors, such as improved production, improved morale, less waste, increased sales, better customer ratings and satisfaction, and fewer complaints from customers and employees. All this stems from thorough training, such as the programmes offered by Uni@Work.

How to measure?

This involves looking at the process and impact of work-based learning; not as an end point in itself, but from a long-term perspective – over years rather than weeks and months.  Your organisational structure will dictate whether you measure the effectiveness in-house with your own HR department or possibly buy in external independent consultants.  Above all, the ongoing exercise will need to include both qualitative and quantitative dimensions.

The qualitative perspective looks at how valuable the work-based learning experience is for the employee. It deals with how they benefited personally, as well as how those benefits have been translated into improved performance within the organisation, in the short, medium and long term. Measurement can be achieved by regularly scheduled 1:1 interviews with the employee’s line manager, making use of a quiet place with the opportunity for reflective thinking, feedback and suggestions. This approach promotes a culture of recognition and support, giving employees confidence and a sense of self-worth, especially regarding transition into higher roles. Add a layer of accountability and formality by documenting each meeting and scheduling the next.

The quantitative perspective deals with how the learning process helps to meet the organisation’s objectives. At Uni@Work we want to innovate and include measures such as ‘mystery shopping’ in the context of your organisation. We’ll work with you to create a unique set of measurements and help evaluate them. Measures may include: knowledge and skills development, attitude, behaviour, attendance and profitability. Having established a baseline, a Likert scale (used to represent people’s attitudes to a topic) approach could be taken to gauge the impact of work-based learning on a wide range of your organisation’s activity.

While you take advantage of the Apprenticeship Levy, remember that it’s still a strategic investment – and as such you should be planning for measurable returns.