Comment évaluer le retour sur investissement (ROI) d’une formation e‑learning ?

▷ How to evaluate the return on investment (ROI) of an e‑learning course?

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Training employees gives them the necessary tools so that they can optimize their professional abilities, of course. At the same time, it allows them to acquire the essential skills to master new technologies, or to cope with the changes made within the company or in the sector of activity. But employers are wondering a lot about how to assess the return on investment of e‑learning training…

The training of employees, an obligation of the employer

Since the application of the law of September 5, 2018, the right to training is an obligation of the employer, regardless of the contract that binds the employee to the company. The CPF or Personal Training Account was set up in 2015, replacing the DIF, in order to give employees the opportunity to follow certifying and qualifying training thanks to hours granted to them each year.

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In all cases, employees have 24 hours per year in all. These hours can be accumulated to reach a ceiling of 120 hours for full-time employees. Note that with the application of the CPF, the hours are now counted in euros and must be partly financed by the employer. The amount of the training followed must be a maximum of €5,000. Employees whose diploma is lower than the BEP or the CAP, benefit from an amount of 800 € per year and is capped at 8000 €.

E-learning acclaimed by employees and employers

Employees can choose to take face-to-face training during their working hours (with the express authorization of their employer), outside, or online. E-learning training, one of the new training formats to choose from in companies, is now popular with employees who appreciate its flexibility. Indeed, this formula allows them to organize their time according to their availability. For the human resources department, the question is whether e-learning brings financial added value to the company.

The calculation of the return on investment or ROI

The return on investment or ROI is obtained by dividing the benefit by the cost. For it to be positive, it must be greater than the amount the company has invested. Although it is agreed that knowledge cannot be quantified and that the returns are not financial, for a company, it is important to be able to quantify the monetary benefits of online training. The calculation of a classic ROI can be transposed to the latter.

Calculating the ROI of digital training remains a rather complicated process to implement. However, some elements can be measured and give an idea of ​​the benefits generated. By not having to travel, the employee already reduces several expense items. He saves on transport costs since there are none and on the time he would have had to spend to get to his classes, if he took them face-to-face.

The criteria taken into account in the evaluation of the ROI of a digital training

Cost control remains one of the priorities for a company, as well as ensuring that the investments made are profitable.

Company investments in content design

As part of the implementation of digital training, several elements must be taken into consideration:

  • The costs generated by the acquisition of teaching materials;
  • The salary awarded to trainers.

Then, in the ROI calculation of development-related expenses, several factors are also included modules that are part of the proposed curriculum and infrastructure. This involves time and the regular updating of the content of training so that it is in line with the changing needs of the company or its field of activity.

These direct costs do not yet take into account the indirect costs, such as the time the employee will spend on training and are therefore not in their position. Moreover, for the company, e-learning does not offer the constraint of limited places. Several employees can follow it and the costs incurred are lower than those released for face-to-face training.

Easier onboarding

The benefits that the company derives from e-learning training are not only monetary. For her, setting up this type of training allows her to identify her future employees very early on from an LMS (learning management system).

These platforms promote the onboarding process so that they quickly feel confident within the company. This, combined with the professional skills obtained during training, makes it possible to recruit young profiles immediately operational, thus reducing the integration time which is more or less long and difficult. Onboarding is also a way to develop their commitment from their first days in the company.

The Kirkpatrick model for measuring the effectiveness of digital training

For the company, the evaluation of a training is essential, because it allows him to determine the effectiveness, but also to readjust the contents if they are not in conformity with his needs.

A model, developed in the 1950s by Donald Kirkpatrick, helps in this process of evaluating e-learning modules by companies for their employees. It is based on 4 levels:

Level 1: evaluation of reactions or Reaction

Level 1 is the base of the pyramid. This is an evaluation of participants’ feelings about the training they have taken. After each module, they will have to fill out a questionnaire or submit to a survey to measure their satisfaction. However, a positive review does not always mean that learners have mastered all the modules they have taken. You have to go to the next level to find out where they are.

Level 2: evaluation of learning or Learning

Although the learner appreciated the training he received, this is not enough to determine whether it was successful. At the second level, the evaluation aims to determine if the learning has provided the knowledge that the employee needs to improve his professional performance, and if he shows much more commitment to his work. The evaluation is carried out using different types of games, tests adapted to the skills that the learner is supposed to acquire at the end of his learning.

Level 3: assessment of the level of transfers, also called behavior or Behavior

The training courses followed by the participants aim to give them the tools that will give them the possibility of transposing what has been given to them in their workplace. The question is whether the skills acquired during training are actually used when they return to work. This evaluation will be done on condition. During this stage, the employer assesses whether the training has had an impact on the behavior of his employee and whether he applies the techniques and other approaches learned in his professional environment, whether his attitude has changed or whether he has regressed. It is however important to note that the behavioral level alone cannot define the efficiency and not of a training.

Level 4 (the last level, at the top of the pyramid): evaluation of results

Level 4 refines the assessments of the previous levels. At this level, the employer is able to assess the scope of the training taken by his employee for the company. The return on investment then translates into the learner’s productivity, but also the savings made or the improvement of the working environment.

Other assessment models

The Phillips model

Other valuation models have relied on Kirkpatrick’s. However, with the evolution of the professional universe, it has become imperative to refine the methods of evaluation of e-learning so that it is possible for the company to have a more precise return on investment, taking into account the positive and negative aspects that it can have on the company and on the employees themselves. The Phillips model therefore made the necessary modifications so that Kirkpatrick’s qualitative data could be supported by more concrete information.

The Return on expectations (ROE) or Return on expectations is interested in the main objectives of the company by setting up these trainings. It is not only a question of whether they have had an impact on employees. The ROE defines the expectations of the employer as well as those of the employees.

In order to know if the training brings concrete results, the evaluation is carried out on the short term to see during this period if it is concretely effective at all levels. It is therefore necessary to make sure, upstream of the training, to make sure to design modules that correspond to the needs of the company. A new prospecting system, new sales techniques, but also the identification of training weaknesses if necessary.

The success story of Brinkerhoff

The aroused methods of evaluation of the ROI relate essentially to the consequences that the training can have, after having collected various information which can support a plea justifying its importance. However, there is another method of evaluation which is based directly on the concept of “case-success” created by Brinkerhoff. The objective of this evaluation method is to be based on concrete cases that do not require numerous hypotheses to be made. Several factors are noted, including the strengths and weaknesses of the course so that they can be readjusted according to the results obtained.

In conclusion

A relevant and tangible evaluation of a digital training ROI cannot be based on a single method. It is important to have all the data whether it is monetized or not in order to be able to be proactive and reactive according to the realities within the company. It is also imperative so that the e-learning implemented is not impacted by negative results.

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