In the ever-changing world of Learning and Development (L&D), demonstrating the Return on Investment (ROI) of learning initiatives poses a significant challenge, and many businesses lack concrete metrics to do so. Relying solely on traditional engagement metrics and program completion rates is no longer enough. The need for a more holistic method of assessing the effectiveness of learning programs is becoming increasingly apparent.
With concerns about limited strategic influence and short-term thinking, the time is ripe for a fresh approach. In this article, we will explore innovative approaches that we can apply to measure the impact of learning programs beyond the standard engagement metrics.
So, let’s dive into the new approach to measuring L&D, with a focus on skills acquisition and its direct link to business success.
Strategic Thinking Requires Strategic Metrics
We are starting to see a noticeable shift in the way L&D teams operate today, with a clear trend towards becoming more strategic and collaborative. This transformation is evident through some of the following aspects:
- Remote and Hybrid Work: As remote and hybrid work models persist, L&D teams are adapting to provide learning opportunities that accommodate both in-person and remote employees.
- Customized Learning Paths: L&D teams are tailoring learning programs to individual employee needs and career aspirations, promoting more personalized development.
- Real-Time Learning: With the rapid pace of change in many industries, L&D programs are incorporating real-time learning resources and updates to ensure employees stay current.
- Integration of AI and Data-Driven Insights: L&D teams are leveraging AI and data analytics to track the impact of their programs, identify areas for improvement, and make data-informed decisions.
- Systemic HR: Teams are transitioning from individual training to holistic problem solving; highlighting the importance of context, business strategy and skills across an organization.
A lot of teams are changing how they work to keep up with the times, but many L&D professionals haven’t updated how they measure success. In 2022, qualitative feedback remained the primary method of evaluating the effectiveness of upskilling and reskilling programs, much like how online learning programs have traditionally been assessed.
Fast-forward to 2023, and leaders have identified new challenges with learning. Top concerns include L&D’s limited strategic influence in supporting business transformation and a short-term focus versus a longer-term vision. Moreover, the standing of learning practitioners within the business can impact how resources are allocated and utilized.
To think strategically, we need to understand what is working and what isn’t. However, according to a study, only 50% of L&D professionals agreed they had a process in place for assessing learning impact, and only 55% had a process for using feedback to continually improve interventions.
So, how do we bridge this divide? The solution lies in going beyond conventional engagement and completion rate metrics. This involves focusing on areas like skill acquisition and their link to business success.
Skills Acquisition – Provide Learning That Employees Actually Want and Need
L&D is facing a bit of a ‘gulp’ moment. The expectations from L&D departments are now sky-high, with responsibilities like leading mobility and upskilling initiatives, even though they may feel underprepared. In the face of these mounting challenges, a recent study uncovered that only 15% of L&D pros have active upskilling and reskilling programs, and only 5% have made it to the stage of measuring and evaluating the impact of these efforts.
Skill acquisition is a critical metric for measuring the effectiveness of learning programs. It’s not enough for learners to simply acquire new information; they must also be able to apply that knowledge in a practical way. By focusing on skill acquisition, L&D leaders can better understand how their programs are directly contributing to the development of their employees and the success of the business.
One way for L&D leaders to prove the impact of upskilling and reskilling initiatives is to connect them to career pathing, internal mobility, and retention.
Insights from the Workplace Learning report, which surveyed 1,444 L&D professionals, offer compelling evidence. Employees who feel that their skills are not being put to good use in their current job are 10 times more likely to be looking for a new job than those who feel that their skills are being put to good use. Additionally, companies that excel at internal mobility are able to retain employees for an average of 5.4 years, which is nearly twice as long as companies that struggle with it, where the average retention span is 2.9 years.
It’s not enough to simply check off skills learned or programs completed; we need to see how these skills are put to work in the real world. When we connect upskilling and reskilling efforts to career growth, internal job shifts, and keeping our team members on board, L&D leaders can show that these programs are making a real difference. Concentrating on skill development doesn’t just boost employee growth and business success—it also plays a big role in keeping our team members around, paving the way for a more engaged and skilled workforce.
Tying learning initiatives to business success is all about highlighting how L&D efforts can enhance the company’s bottom line, whether it’s through boosting productivity, improving customer satisfaction, or driving revenue growth. Let’s delve into some insights from Hive Learning’s CEO, Laura Keith, on this topic.
“I’m a firm believer that we need to help our teams understand that learning and growing isn’t just a one-time thing. It’s a journey that if done correctly can really help individuals to grow and master their work more effectively. And if one thing is true with the introduction of Gen AI, it is not going to be possible to upskill our teams at the speed that is required by using traditional methods.
The businesses and individuals who will thrive in this new climate are the ones who are going to be able to adapt and learn quicker than others. make this happen, we need a shift – in how we act and how we think. We need to move L&D from just another task on our to-do list to a cornerstone of our business. We need to understand how learning programs align with the wider strategic goals of a business. Rather than just focusing on what teams ‘do’ in learning, we need to shift our focus on ‘how’ these skills are applied. With this change in perspective, I truly believe we can unlock the power of L&D and prove its impact.”
Here’s a closer look at what this shift could look like:
- Elevating Employee Productivity: When employees are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge, they can excel at their jobs, leading to a spike in productivity.
- Boosting Customer Satisfaction: Skilled and well-informed employees can better cater to customer needs, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Cutting Costs: L&D programs can help trim costs in various ways. They can reduce employee turnover, a significant expense, and they can improve employee performance, leading to increased productivity and lower costs.
- Increasing Revenue: L&D initiatives can help drive revenue. They can improve employee productivity, resulting in higher sales. Plus, they can aid in developing new products and services, opening up additional sources of revenue.
By focusing on these areas, we can start to paint a richer picture of our learning programs’ impact, enabling us to truly understand their value and influence.
As L&D responsibilities rise to new heights, it’s clear that conventional metrics and practices need a revamp. To bridge the gap, we need to shift our focus to innovative metrics like skill acquisition and connect learning initiatives to tangible business results such as productivity, customer satisfaction, and revenue.
But how do we actually measure these things? The answer lies in data. By collecting and analyzing data on skill acquisition, knowledge retention, and business success, we can start to understand the true impact of our learning programs. This is where Hive Learning comes in. Our platform provides the tools and resources needed to collect and analyze this data, providing you with a clear picture of the impact of your learning programs.
So, are you ready to start measuring the impact of your learning programs in a new way? If so, get in touch with Hive Learning today. We’re here to help you crack the code on L&D metrics and ROI.
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