Q&A: Learning Leaders on the ROI of Talent Development

Three talent development experts discuss how to prove the value of training programs and the evolution of talent development over the years

Training and talent development initiatives are incredibly valuable to restaurant operations, especially when the labor market is the tightest it’s been in 50 years.

Today’s workforce wants ongoing training and education programs and providing employees with opportunities for career growth can go a long way towards engagement, retention, and giving your business a competitive edge.

But proving the hard business value of the investment in training is not always easy, especially if your organization is considering implementing a learning management solution (LMS) to help deliver training to your team members. These customizable technology solutions allow training teams to deliver the latest courses to employees in an easy-to-use, scalable interface. But if you’re considering adopting one, how do you prove the ROI?

Training and development leaders answered that question and many more during a Leaders in Learning panel discussion at our Spark Conference last year. We were joined by Richard Fletcher, Talent Development Executive at Krystal; Kathy Watkins, Senior Vice President of Operations at Johnny Rockets; and Megan Daniele, Director of Learning and Development at Logan’s Roadhouse

Below you can find excerpts of their discussion. The following comments have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Q: We know inherently that developing our team members is important. But as learning leaders, you’re often tasked with proving the value of these programs. How do you prove the value of training?

Richard: My advice to you is not to determine the value yourself. Find out what your leaders want the value to be. They determine the value, so you have to find out what that is, then do the pilot, and then show it made a difference.

I have an obligation to deliver results, so when we implemented Schoox, we started with a small group of stores. I analyzed whether it made a difference in speed of service, or sales, or retention. That’s what you give to leadership. 

Kathy: If you’re in a hospitality organization where you have to go in and defend people development, find a new organization to work for. People development is critical. That’s the hard part — you want to work with people who care about people development and who appreciate the value that it brings to the company.

I’ve implemented e-learning in three different organizations. What you need to do is break even. The program has to be cost-neutral so that it’s a safe decision for the leaders who really want to do it. If they believe in it, you need to make it easy for them to buy-in. For Johnny Rockets, we did a quick analysis. We’re going to save as much money on paper as it costs to implement the LMS, so we’re breaking even. Now, everything is value-added, and then we get to business results.

Megan: I had to crunch some numbers in the beginning. I found that the print cost for paper-based training — plus the express delivery charges to get manuals out on time — was exorbitant, so an LMS was an easier sell. I was very fortunate in that regard. But as the years go by, I have to prove it every year and get our ROI out there. I had to show our leaders results. I had to show them that our manager turnover has dropped 20 percent in the past year because of what they’re saying they’re learning on this platform. We’ve saved over $2 million in the past two years on print alone because of Schoox. 

Q: What’s the operational result that you’re most proud of?

Richard: Fast food retention is tough. You’re getting 500 new people a week. With our shift-leaders, it’s about culture and whether they’re feeling valued. We also want to know if they like their training. We need to increase their confidence in their training. So when they’ve completed it, we measure that. And they’re saying we’re killing it — they’re feeling really confident. Retention among shift-leads improved.

Kathy: Came to Johnny Rockets from Panera Bread. Panera has seasonal menus, so five times a year significant menu changes are coming out. That’s where we really found value in e-learning. We were able to revamp our entire in-market deployment process using e-learning as pre-training on the new products. Then, everybody got to taste the food, and then we had proficiency testing. So when those products went live, we had employees who authentically understood those products.

Megan: Six months ago we had 60 percent training compliance on our spring menu. That means that 40 percent of my servers are going out into the restaurant and talking about food… and they don’t know what they’re talking about. I had that dialogue with my managers and got them to realize that all of their servers need to be experts on the food they’re serving. I consider our servers salespeople and our executives consider them salespeople, so now we’re going to start teaching them as salespeople. And because of that, we’re going to see a bigger ROI on the check amounts next year.

For even more insights and key takeaways, listen to the entire panel discussion on our podcast page!

Blog Newsletter

Thank you!

Your subscription has been confirmed and you've been added to our newsletter list.

Featured Posts

Rethinking Pay Norms: How Retailers Can Attract Exceptional Talent
Back (Office) to the Future: The 4 Trends IT Leaders Need to Know
Employees Entering Too Many Comps and Voids? How to Prevent Waste in Your Restaurants

Recent Posts