With a recent ROI Institute study claiming 60-90% of all job-related skills and knowledge acquired in workshops are not being implemented on the job, UAE-based human resources professionals met to discuss how to maximise return on investment (ROI) from training programmes.

Speaking in Dubai at The Knowledge Café, a think-tank for the UAE’s top HR and training professionals, Jane Rennie, Director of Delivery Effectiveness at FranklinCovey Middle East, led the discussion: “Clients frequently ask us how they can maximise the return on training programmes and this is hardly surprising, with the ROI study demonstrating as little as 10% of all learned in these sessions might be used in the workplace.

“Many organisations are looking to improve employee engagement, create a culture change or simply increase productivity and, while there are many excellent approaches and solutions on the market to help organisations develop their people, few of them really do deliver sustainable change. Where it’s true many organisations send their people off to attend either soft-skills or technical skills courses, such as Time Management or Report Writing, the world of work has changed and it’s no longer just about processes and efficiency.

“Today it’s all about productivity and effectively using our minds to make many decisions all day long – some more complex than others. According to recent research done by FranklinCovey, there are three key reasons why it’s so difficult to achieve extraordinary productivity in today’s day and age – decisions, attention and energy. With people now being paid to use their minds much more; approximately 70% of today’s workforce is employed in the Knowledge Worker’s space, working in medium to high complexity jobs – we’re being asked to do more with less, we’re distracted and mentally exhausted.”

And a recent Harvard Business Review survey underlines the importance of effectively training these employees working in high complexity jobs. The research showed where low levels of decision-making or complexity exists in jobs, such as working at a fast food restaurant, the top performer is three times more productive than the bottom performer. When you consider medium levels of complexity, such as a medical technician, the top one per cent performer is twelve times more productive than the bottom performer. However, when you compare occupations involving high levels of complexity, such as a lawyer or software developer, the top performer is infinitely more productive than the bottom performer.

Jane Rennie, Director of Delivery Effectiveness, FranklinCovey Middle East leads the discussion during the event

Five top tips were agreed for maximising return on investment in training:

  1. All-inclusive: Learning must be available on-demand, be job-relevant and it must be constantly changing. Today, organisations need to offer flexible alternatives to traditional classroom training, such as using social media, blended learning or virtual classrooms
  2. Mind the gap: A high return on training investment, in terms of improving business performance is less likely if leaders do not identify critical performance gaps and match them with learning solutions. Once you identify the gaps and agree on the metrics, you can justify that training results in improved performance
  3. People play differently when you’re keeping score: Each employee should set a few Wildly Important Goals to learn and develop new skills. A visible, easy-to-read dashboard measuring the impact of the training should be put in place. Successes should be publicised, recognised and rewarded
  4. Alignment: Training must be aligned, relevant, and effective. If there is no clear link between the strategic initiatives of the organisation and the training taking place, it is unlikely participants will see the value and any increase in performance (and therefore productivity) is likely to be short-term and not sustained
  5. Just say no: No matter how nice or slick they seem, training programmes that have little or no impact on business results should be discontinued

Rennie added: “If you’re currently planning a major training initiative, it’s essential you consider not only the training itself, but also what’s required after the workshop to maximise the return. One area where many organisations fall short is when they think they know what they want when they’d be better taking more time to consider what is actually needed.”

Created by FranklinCovey Middle East, The Knowledge Cafe brings the world’s top trainers to the Middle East, with many planned to lead future TKCs on topics such as leadership, coaching, communication and team building at this exclusive interactive information sharing and networking community. With numbers capped at 40 to ensure maximum interaction, some of the UAE’s most prominent organisations, including: Americana, DEWA, AW Rostamani, Dubai Airports, Chalhoub Group, DP World, Jumeirah, KHDA and Emaar Hospitality, have all signed up to be part of the bi-monthly think tank. Attendees include senior HR and leadership and development professionals, participating in The Knowledge Café in order to learn, share and network.


Joumana Saad

Before joining SME Advisor, I worked as a producer/reporter for Forbes Media in New York. I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and International Studies at the University of South Florida in the US. I am currently in Dubai working as Sub-Editor for SME Advisor Middle East, which is a business magazine published by CPI. You can follow me on Twitter: @joumanasaad or @SMEadvisorME and (Joumana Saad) or (SME Advisor) on LinkedIn.