Proving the Value of Learning & Development

One of the toughest things hospitality training departments face is proving that the work they do has value so they can secure management and operator buy-in. When budgets are tight, training departments are often among the first to face cuts because they tend to lack tangible proof that their programs are delivering real business results.

While there are several ways to calculate short-term return on investment (ROI) for specific training programs, until now it has been difficult to show the long-term impacts of learning and development initiatives. However, with a unique metric available in DiscoverLink Talent called Knowledge Score, hospitality businesses can show the cumulative impacts of training.

Exactly What is a Knowledge Score?

Simply put, the Knowledge Score is the sum of points an individual learner earns as they complete their training over time. Here’s how it works:

  1. Each training activity is assigned a numeric value (typically from 1-5) that represents its relative value compared to all learning items available. A Knowledge Score can be applied to courses, videos, activities tracked in a checklist or workbook, exams, or any other trackable training content. It is recommended that the Knowledge Score be based on factors such as:
    • The number of tasks covered by the training activity
    • The importance of the tasks to the success of the business
    • The complexity of the tasks
    • The difficulty of mastering the tasks

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  1. As a learner completes their training content, they can see how many Knowledge Score credits are available for each learning program, see how many points they have earned so far, and keep track of their cumulative Knowledge Score. Credits shown on the learning program are the sum of all the Knowledge Scores assigned to each individual content item in the learning program.proving the value
  2.  Learners and their managers can also view a list of all training content completed to date with Knowledge Scores for each, as well as the scores for content that has been assigned but not yet completed. This provides added incentive to continue with their training in order to achieve a higher Knowledge Score.

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But That’s Just One Learner, Right?

Exactly, and this is where the real fun begins. In addition to tracking Knowledge Score for each employee, DiscoverLink Talent now calculates the average Knowledge Score for all active learners in a location. The Location Knowledge Score is displayed on the Manager’s Dashboard and is automatically updated as learners complete additional training.

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A Knowledge Score Report provides a printable “scorecard” listing all active employees in that location with their scores. A configurable grace period allows you to exclude new hires from the Location Knowledge Score average for a period you specify (the default is 30 days). This provides a truer picture of the location’s overall competency while new employees are completing their initial training programs.

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Location Knowledge Scores are also shown on Dashboard Summaries, so individual locations, regions/districts, or even multiple brands can be compared.

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So How Does Knowledge Score Help Prove the Value of Training?

This is where the magic happens. When combined with other common business metrics, the Location Knowledge Score can serve as a valuable performance indicator. By combining learning management system data with external data in a custom Metrics view, you can start to see some correlations of Knowledge Score with metrics such as retention, sales, or guest satisfaction.

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Taking this one step further, you can look for patterns of positive improvements that follow increases in Location Knowledge Score. For example:

  • When analyzed with employee turnover, it is likely that locations with higher Knowledge Scores will have lower turnover. Training has been shown to reduce turnover because well-trained employees are more confident in their abilities, have better success in their skill positions, and are, therefore, happier so they stay longer. Also, employees with higher Knowledge Scores are likely to have been cross trained in multiple skill positions, so they can be scheduled more often, which also leads to higher job satisfaction. So, if you can show that locations with high Knowledge Scores have higher retention, that’s an easy way to show the value of training. Think of the cost savings to your organization if each location can hire just a couple fewer employees each year. By applying a cost of turnover figure (typically about $2,000 per hourly employee), you can easily show the ROI that training has in terms of retention.
  • You may be able to prove that locations that significantly improve their Knowledge Score during a period also experience a positive impact on profit. Better trained employees are typically better at upselling and generating higher revenue, while also making fewer mistakes and reducing food cost. Conversely, you may be able to see that lower performing locations have lower Knowledge Scores, in which case the potential remedy is obvious. If additional training (leading to higher Knowledge Scores) improves sales and lowers costs, that’s about as clear of an ROI as you can hope for. Ultimately over time, you will be able to set a target Knowledge Score as the minimum required for high-performing locations. With locations easily compared in a Dashboard Summary, your district or regional managers can start to reach out to those in need of additional guidance simply by tracking their Knowledge Scores.
  • Guest satisfaction scores can be an elusive metric to impact. It stands to reason that better trained staff with longer tenure provide better service to your guests. Locations with higher Knowledge Scores are likely to make fewer mistakes, have faster speed of service, serve higher quality food, and provide a better overall guest experience. If you can equate an increase in Knowledge Score with guest satisfaction improvement, you can quickly show the real business value that training has.

Those are just a few ideas for how you can combine Knowledge Score with other business metrics to prove the value of training. In addition to these ROI opportunities, Knowledge Score can also be used to create gamification among learners for friendly competition, establish benchmarks for competency, or set goals for new hires. For more information, see the Location Knowledge Score Release Notes.

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