Woman seating at an airport

How to measure the effectiveness of pre-departure training

09 November 2021


Does your business have pre-departure training for its expat employees? Wondering if it is as effective as it should be? We look at some ways to measure success. 

As the world begins the road to recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the working world is likely to look quite different. Organisations are introducing hybrid working policies where employees can combine office with remote work. 
There are changes to global mobility too. Some businesses are creating or revising immigration policies to incorporate the use of virtual, commuter or remote assignments to sidestep travel restrictions and, in the longer term, costs associated with expat assignments.
However, for many businesses global mobility will remain an important part of their expansion and employee development strategies. For these employees, uprooting their lives to move away from the support of family and friends to a different country and culture, pre-departure training will remain an important element in their preparation.
From an international HR perspective there are challenges to managing expats at every stage of their assignment. One of the most difficult times is as they are preparing to move. Many soon to be expats juggle the high expectations of the business with those of their family as they prepare to leave. 
Creating an effective pre-departure training course that encompasses cross-cultural training is going to be important as we move into the ‘new normal’ for global mobility. The question is how does your business know if your pre-departure training is delivering as it should?
Training metrics are data points used to measure the effectiveness of training. They help your business to understand whether the training that has been put in place is actually solving the problem it was designed to overcome. Pre-departure training goals will vary by industry, location and employee.

Identifying the right metrics for your pre-departure training will allow you to understand if the course is:

  • Improving your employee’s performance as an expat?
  • Improving business performance?
  • Identify areas of weakness in the training that can be improved
  • Show how international HR impacts business results
Sometimes confused, training metrics differ from key performance indicators (KPI) because they focus on results whereas KPI’s evaluate progress towards a business goal.

As mentioned above, pre-departure training metrics should be unique to your business and the problem you are trying to solve but some examples may include:

  • Pass rates for assessments
  • Employees reliance on HR support when they move to their new location
  • Employees reliance on external support when they move to new location
  • Reduction in expat failure rates 
  • Improved return on investment on expat assignments

There are a number of tactics to identify the right metrics to measure the success of your organisation’s expat training programme:

Consult with all stakeholders to understand what outcome they want to achieve from the training:

  • Candidates may wish to have more information on what to expect from their new home both on a practical level e.g. how to have cable tv connected and a cultural level e.g. what is an appropriate way to address a more senior employee? 
  • Management may want to improve business results in the location the expat is sent to or improve return on investment.
  • HR departments may wish to reduce time spent supporting employees when they first move.
Transform them into SMART, quantifiable metrics. Subjective metrics can be difficult to validate. 
Over the years many training models have been developed to enable those providing training to investigate and analyse its effectiveness at changing behaviour in a desired way. The best thing about most models is they are generic and can be applied to almost any form of training.
The Kirkpatrick model is one of the best known evaluation methods and it is used as the basis for others. Invented in the 1950’s it is a relatively simple but effective four step process:
How did participants respond to the training? If the response is largely positive, it shows your company that the conditions for learning were present. If not, your business must try to understand why not and make changes to the content or delivery accordingly.
Most training courses have some form of end of training assessment. It may be theoretical or practical. This helps to confirm that those in attendance have understood the information that has been imparted. 
This stage can only be assessed in the weeks and months following training. It is the most important element of all training as it shows whether it has truly led to the desired change in performance. 
The Kirkpatrick model measures results against stakeholders expectations or ROE (Return on Expectations). Developing goals for all forms of training really matters. You can use the data gathered following the training to understand whether it has missed, met, or exceeded your expectation and make changes to future sessions accordingly. 
There are many other training evaluation models that may suit your pre-departure training like the Philips ROI model which also takes into consideration the cost of the training and in case of pre-departure training, the expat assignment when evaluating its success. 
We know preparing an employee for life overseas is time consuming. Let us help you provide your business with international health insurance so you don’t have to worry should they become ill or have an accident while on assignment.