Using Data to Show ROI of Talent Development Programs

September 15th, 2023 – SkillCycle

3x exceeding financial targets

Did your employees help you meet your company goals for revenue this year? How about productivity? This time of year, you’re probably reflecting on how your talent development program has helped the company’s success so you can make plans for the next fiscal. 

But where to start? The challenge is to figure out how to evaluate this year’s objectives and achievements before the end-of-year finish line to decide on future budget allocations. 

It’s worth the effort to get this step right — talent development isn’t an optional employee benefit. Nearly 80% of organizations confirm people development is important to their company’s long-term growth, according to McKinsey

Let’s look at how you can navigate these evaluations to ensure that beneficial programs can continue into the new year without disruption, and that any new funds are allocated wisely.

In this article on measuring talent development goals, we’ll explore:

  • Why talent development strategies will only take you so far
  • The importance of connecting talent development to company goals
  • Key aspects of evaluating a talent development plan
  • Moving talent development into the “must-have” column


Talent development strategies are just the beginning

If you’re heading up HR in your company, the calendar is hinting that you’re about to be tasked with evaluating and communicating how your talent development plan has been doing compared to objectives set earlier in the year. 

Calculating the ROI of talent development programs has long been a challenge. Companies want to do the right thing, but execs worry about pouring money into the wrong initiatives or investing in systems that don’t deliver. Yet, it will take resources to implement skill-building and development plans to have performance to measure. 

In the past, HR leaders have struggled to measure their wins and, most importantly, present success while directly linking it to business outcomes.

The solution? You need a foolproof way to ensure the company can make smart investments in talent development and a method for HR pros to communicate this to people outside the HR desk. 

Perhaps start here: Companies that drive talent development are 4x more likely to innovate and 2.6x more likely to exceed financial targets.

Smiling confident African-American team leader standing among colleagues and gesturing hands while explaining project plan at staff meeting in coworking space

Connecting talent development to company-wide goals

A vital step will be measuring talent development goals and performance against your original objectives. From these comparisons, you can communicate accurate metrics that tie the company’s investment in talent development to the company’s performance. 

The need to prove value isn’t new in HR. For example, most HR professionals have worked to boost employee engagement in their companies. 

Why? Engaged employees deliver better business outcomes than other employees, according to Gallup. If you share the ROI of employee engagement, you can likely build support for initiatives that would improve it. 

Now, companies can access more profound insights pulled from across all performance management and development programs. An all-in-one platform can show data that proves measurable improvements in company performance that connect back to the engagement levels of employees. 


Key aspects of evaluating a talent development plan

When measuring how effectively your workforce development plans have been implemented, it’s tempting to simply look at the delivery success or the volume of people who have received training or acquired new skills. 

But these numbers don’t tell you where the company should invest new funds. Instead of only looking at what was implemented, you can compare your original objectives to outcomes and review data that can effectively guide your future budgets.


Here are three key questions to ask as you approach year-end discussions:

1. Have you connected your talent development goals to those of the company?

Delivering robust training programs will require resources, and while most companies want to treat their employees well, few can afford to simply funnel resources into training just as an employee benefit. 


However, when funds allocated to talent development produce measurable results that positively impact the company’s bottom line or other goals, it’s much easier to increase those investments. 

2. What data will you need to show if it’s been effective? 

You’ll need more than good storytelling to share your wins. Department leaders want to know employees are happy and moving upward in the company, but these stories can be hard to pull together into a cohesive narrative. 


Look for data that helps you measure progress and communicate business outcomes boosted by investments in building capability within your workforce. You’ll want to see not just training completed, but also a skills gap analysis, career pathing for employees, and trends in development over time.

3. Does your existing platform or suite of tools connect this data for you?

Meaningful evaluation of talent development must encompass all relevant data points in order to provide the insights needed to make decisions on new budget allocations. When you can pull all critical details into your reporting and effectively connect how funds were used and what ROI was funneled back into the company, you can not only demonstrate success, but you can identify which parts of your development plans made the biggest impact. 

Then, you’ll leverage that data to offer actionable insights that can help you allocate resources to the most valuable channels.

For example, you could point to a corporate goal of increasing productivity from a particular team in your company. Next, you can outline the steps taken to improve skills related to productivity and the associated costs. With data on how the team improved and the resulting gain to the company from that change, you can have targeted conversations about how talent development in a specific area contributes to the bottom line. 

With accurate data, you can create a complete narrative to share with the rest of your company about your talent development strategies. 


Moving your talent development program into the “must-have” column

Actionable data is powerful. With it, your company can confidently invest in programs that support your people’s personal development goals and contribute to company performance.

With performance tools that connect your plans to outcomes, you can argue for a robust budget to continue your efforts in the new year. Getting buy-in from others will be much easier with data insights to back up your reporting. 

You could have full access to talent development data and insights that directly impact your company-wide goals and ROI. Here’s how it works