Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Expectations (ROE) are key metrics that businesses use to evaluate the effectiveness of their language training investments. When it comes to corporate language training, understanding how to accurately generate these metrics can help organizations make important decisions about the continuation of their language training initiatives.

Return on Investment (ROI) measures the financial return on an investment relative to its cost. It is calculated by dividing the net profit of an investment by its cost:

ROI = Net income / Cost of investment x 100

For example, you invest 100,000 Euro in a language course to upskill your employees. You notice in the following year that the company’ net income has risen by 150,000 euro. Therefore, your ROI would be (150,000 / 100,000 x 100) providing an ROI of 150%. That is money well spent!

However, using such a simplistic formula to measure the success of a language course is not always that helpful. When evaluating the success of language training, it is important to consider both the direct and indirect benefits of staff training.

Direct benefits

By investing in language training, companies can improve communications with clients, which can lead to improved relationships and increased sales. Direct benefits, as shown above, normally include increased sales or productivity which are easy to measure from financial metrics. A lot of different factors can come into play here. Employees who are unable to communicate effectively in a foreign language may spend more time on tasks, leading to decreased efficiency. Language training can help to reduce these barriers, improving productivity and reducing the time needed to complete tasks. In addition to that, corporate language training can also help employees to develop a better understanding of the cultural nuances that impact business dealings, improving their ability to negotiate and build relationships with partners from different backgrounds. When calculating the direct benefits, it is important to consider the real cost of the training, including the cost of materials and resources, as well as the cost of employee time when they are not working.

Indirect benefits

Indirect benefits are much more difficult to measure with such basic financial metrics. These benefits might include things like improved employee morale and retention rates. Corporate language training programs can help to demonstrate a company’s commitment to employee development, leading to greater job satisfaction, employee retention and a better work environment. This can reduce employee turnover, which will have important knock-on effects, such as reducing the costs of recruiting, onboarding, and knowledge transfer when valued employees leave the company. ROE (Return on Expectations) is used to show how successfully a training program meets its objectives. This is based on changes in employee motivation and performance after completing a course. One of the most widely used and respected models for evaluating the effectiveness of training programs is the Kirkpatrick Framework, which is based on four levels of evaluation.

Kirkpatrick Framework

  1. reaction
    • Measure your participants initial reaction to gain an understanding of the training program and valuable insights into material quality, educator and more.
  1. learning
    • Measure how much information was effectively absorbed during the training and map it to the program or individual learning objectives.
  1. behavior
    • Measure how much your training has influenced the behaviour of the participants and evaluate how they apply this information to the job.
  1. results
    • Measure and analyze the impact your training has had at the business level, and be sure to tie it to the individual program.

The first level, reaction, measures the participants’ perceptions of the training program. Did the participants enjoy the course and respond well to the training methods?

The second level, learning, assesses the degree to which participants acquired the intended knowledge and skills. By tracking how the participants respond to and benefit from a course, stakeholders can determine the overall success of a learning program. Did the participants acquire the required learning outcomes?

The third level, behavior, evaluates whether the participants apply the knowledge and skills learned in the training program in their work. Can the participants implement the new skills in their everyday work?

Finally, the fourth level, results, measures the direct impact of the training program on the company’s goals. Has the course led to measurable increases in profits and productivity?

If stakeholders can get positive answers to these four questions, the training has more than likely been a success and there is enough data to go ahead and build a business case to continue the program.

Tips and best practices

Now that we’ve established the importance of ROI and ROE in corporate language training, let’s look at some best practices:

Set clear training goals: Before investing in a language training solution, companies should establish clear goals that they hope to achieve. These might include improved communication with international clients or partners, increased productivity, or enhanced cultural sensitivity. Define clear language training goals and objectives that align with business objectives and priorities. By setting clear goals, companies can measure progress against targets at a later time. If the goal is to improve English sales presentations, then companies can assess the quality of presentations before and after the training.

Choose the right metrics: When measuring ROI, it’s essential to choose metrics that align with the company’s goals. For example, if the goal is to improve communication, companies might track the number of successful sales calls or the time it takes to complete tasks with international clients. Use these metrics to track the effectiveness of language training initiatives, including pre- and post-training assessments.

Gather learner feedback: Gathering feedback from employees who have completed language training programs can be a valuable source of data to assess ROE. This feedback can provide insights into the effectiveness of the program, allowing companies to make improvements or adjustments. Create metrics on satisfaction levels using employee feedback surveys.

Gather Learner data: Gathering learner metrics from level testing, progress testing, student engagement data, course completion data, and trainer feedback is essential for reporting the success or failure of a training program. This is a second key source of data to assess ROE. It is essential to purchase solutions which are able to provide reliable learner data. Consider the use of technology-based training solutions, such as e-learning and mobile apps, to generate more learning data which can be leveraged for reporting.

Evaluate cost accurately: To calculate ROI accurately, it’s essential to evaluate the total cost of the language training program. This should include direct costs such as course fees and materials, as well as indirect costs such as employee time spent attending training sessions and the loss of productive work.

Provide Support: Provide ongoing support and reinforcement to ensure that employees continue to use and improve their language skills over time. Training needs to be spread over a longer period of time to see measurable results, so make sure you create realistic training timelines.

In conclusion, understanding both ROI and ROE is essential for organizations looking to invest in corporate language training. By taking a data-driven approach to language training and using metrics to track the effectiveness of training initiatives, businesses can maximize the financial benefits of language training while also improving the overall performance of their organization in today’s global economy.

Image by ar130405 from Pixabay

Kirkpatrick, D (1998) Evaluating training programmes: The four levels, San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler
Publishers Inc


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