There is no doubt, business leaders agree that learning and development is a key business priority. This is especially true in a world where the business landscape is changing fast and dynamically, across all industries. Technology and innovation are changing the way we travel (Kayak, Expedia), eat (Uber Eats, Hello Fresh), shop (Amazon, Apple Pay), watch (Netflix), and while these realms are often the most apparent to us in day-to-day life, these changes are being felt more and more outside the home. Organizations need to equip employees with the skills and knowledge they need to adapt to this rapid pace of change, while also keeping them aligned and focused on driving business priorities.
According to Gartner, 86% of business leaders think employee development is critical for driving business outcomes and spend approximately $1,200 per employee on training each year. However, organizations are still missing the mark on providing employees with the right learning experience, one that is relevant, personalized, interactive, in the moment of need, and that aligns employees to strategic business imperatives. In fact, only 34% of business leaders today think that their L&D programs actually impact business outcomes; and nearly two-thirds of L&D spending goes towards redundant, low-quality training programs.
As business units across organizations, including training and L&D, are asked to do more with less, the importance of demonstrating value and impact on the top and bottom line cannot be understated. Learning teams need to understand what metrics matter to the business and they need a quick and easy way to collect, analyze and share this information with their leadership.
Here are 4 key metrics learning teams can leverage to prove the business impact of L&D programs:
Learning Usage and Adoption
This first metric might be the simplest on the list, but it is still important to business leaders nonetheless. If your company is spending money on L&D, your executives want to know how many people are participating in the programs and how often. It is also valuable for learning teams to understand:
- Why certain employee segments are participating, while others aren't;
- Why some learning activities are adopted more than others;
- How long it takes to get a group of employees to complete training;
- What types of learning content resonate with their people based on format, length, level of complexity and/or topic.
This insight allows learning teams to continuously optimize and personalize the experience for their employees, so they can continuously drive impact.
Impact on Employee Engagement
A highly engaged workforce can increase innovation, productivity, and performance, while also increasing retention and reducing costs related to hiring. That is why employee engagement is another key metric that matters to business leaders. Research also shows that L&D programs can have a direct impact on employee engagement, so learning teams need to be able to prove this to their leadership. This can be done in a few different ways.
Try measuring the retention rate of those who participate in voluntary learning programs versus everyone else. This can give insight into how much your people value your training programs and whether they correlate to employee retention.
You can also measure L&D's impact on employee engagement leveraging a real-time feedback tool, such as Saba Pulse, that enables learning teams to collect real-time and continuous feedback on the way employees feel about their L&D. With these types of survey tools, it's important that the data be secure and anonymized so that employees can feel truthful and candid in their responses, giving more accurate actionable data.
Impact on Employee Performance
Aligning learning with business objectives is a high priority for business leaders when it comes to L&D. We all know that when employees set their goals, they need to align them to the strategic objectives of the organization. But they need also to be able to identify (and gain access to) relevant L&D that will allow them to develop the skills they need to achieve those goals and hit them out of the park. Being able to prove that L&D helped move the needle on business performance is the ultimate ROI and proof point.
Learning teams can do this by analyzing performance and learning data together. Are top performing employees participating in voluntary learning programs? Are employees and departments completing their goals faster and more effectively as a result of learning? Learning teams should review goal information regularly, so they can ensure relevant content and courses are available to their employees, driving further impact from L&D programs
Impact on skills & leadership development
Another critical outcome for L&D programs that business leaders care about is upskilling their workforce and prepare employees for future roles. Providing employees with the opportunity to grow and progress their careers not only increases employee engagement and loyalty. It also saves organizations money by enabling them to promote from within, versus recruiting external candidates which can be significantly more expensive.
Learning teams should continuously evaluate the skills available across the organization. By identifying the skills required for leadership positions, identifying gaps, and then providing the necessary learning content that can help fill those gaps, the organization becomes better equipped to ensure its future success. They can also look to see if the employees participating in voluntary L&D programs are in fact being promoted, which is another strong proof point for the leadership team. Additionally, if learning teams can prove to the employee base that participation in L&D leads to promotion, they can drive further adoption and value from L&D programs.
It's all about the proof points
When rolling out your learning programs, it's important to not get overly swept up in the latest industry trends and best practices. It's all about keeping a solid foundation beneath everything that you do as an L&D practitioner and keeping the right outcomes in mind when building out your strategy - and then, measuring your success so that you can either adapt and change things for the better or prove the value of your efforts.
What metrics does your organization lean on to prove the success of your training or L&D efforts? Let us know in the comments section below!