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Building a Case For Training

Training is an investment in your biggest asset, your employees. These people have a direct impact on increasing sales, reducing waste, avoiding accidents and enhancing customer satisfaction. Ultimately, they have a key role in improving the quality of products and services.

All of these factors contribute to the bottom line of your business. And when instituting training initiatives, it is essential to understand and be able to explain how a particular type of training will increase revenues or decrease costs. Because while training is important, it’s pointless if it doesn’t improve your business. Effective training helps support the short- and long-term goals and objectives of an organization.

There are five phases to the training cycle:

  1. Determining a need for training
  2. Developing the training objectives
  3. Designing the training program
  4. Delivering the training
  5. Evaluating the training program

Inside the cycle

The needs-assessment phase identifies when there is a gap between desired and actual performance. Feedback from guests, discussions with employees and observations from management are great ways to determine discrepancies that may be undermining the business drivers for the training.

After determining there is a need for training, the second step is to develop learning objectives. These will focus on the desired and expected outcomes of the training. Do you want to reduce turnover? Increase sales? Improve the quality of your products and services? Minimize food costs while maintaining the same standards?

By developing learning objectives that help measure performance, you are able to establish the new benchmarks and standards. These objectives also provide focus while designing the training program.

The design phase is the path to ensuring that the learning objectives are accurately obtained. An effective way to begin the design phase is to create an outline which focuses on the following questions:

A. How many employees are going to participate in the program?

B. What is the experience level of the participants?

C. Where is the training going to take place?

D. How much time is allotted for training?

E. Who is the instructor?

F. What are the key objectives and terms that need to be covered?

G. What materials and training tools are needed?

H. What equipment do you need to conduct the training?

I. Is this “on-the-job” training, classroom training or experiential training?

If the design phase is well thought out, the delivery phase simply becomes the execution of the plan. The instructor’s ability to relate to the students is the most important part of the learning. Skilled trainers understand that there are different kinds of adult learning styles. In the hospitality industry there is a high percentage of individuals who learn best through hands-on training. Training environments that keep the participants very active are usually the most effective. Some examples include case studies, group exercises, demonstrations, open discussions, practical application of the new skills, role plays, etc.
Ultimately, the success of the training program is measured in the final phase of the training cycle: evaluation. Again, trainers should begin by visualizing the desired results with an eye toward the bottom-line benefits. These benefits may include increases in productivity, increases in efficiency, decreases in customer complaints, reduced absenteeism, fewer accidents, etc.

While all the phases are important, evaluating the training quantifies the benefits, which can offset the costs of the program. Managers can gain credibility for focusing on the bottom line of their business. Again, if you can build a strong business case for your training programs and prove that objectives and goals have been met, then senior management will be more likely to allocate funds towards developing your staff.

Calculating Costs and Benefits

As with virtually every type of ROI calculation, the impact of the training investment can be calculated by using this formula: ROI = ((Benefit – Costs)/Costs) x 100

That seems simple. But how do you gather the costs and benefits of the program? Managers should take a strategic look at their organization and consider the impact of the training as well as all associated costs. Below are some suggestions to consider in determining the cost of your training program:

Costs to consider
Design and development
Participants’ time
Trainer’s salary
Course materials
Job coverage and overtime
Equipment needed
Lost opportunities

Benefits to consider
Labor savings
Productivity increases
Lower turnover
Lower recruitment costs
Reduction in overtime
Sales volume
Client retention
Reduced customer response time

Some benefits are not as easily measured as those above. However, they should all be taken into consideration when evaluating the effectiveness of a training program.

The intangible benefits
Increased job satisfaction
Increased organizational commitment
Improved public image
Reduced stress
Improved teamwork
Improved customer service

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