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Research on the growing appetite for measuring learning impact at work

While marketing departments have become increasingly adept at measuring their role in the bigger picture of organisational structures, L&D departments have traditionally been slower at using learning impact measurement techniques to prove their worth. Training budgets, either to avoid reduction or to increase investment, can be backed up with data to show their value. However, not everyone knows how to do this.

Are large organisations interested in changing this in order to produce clear, demonstrable results that ‘show off’ the business impact of learning? LEO’s Chief Strategy Officer Piers Lea, alongside Watershed and the iVentiv network, set out to uncover what people think through recent research conducted in Europe and the US. With respondents from over 350 companies in various sectors, from government to motoring, aviation, defence and technology, some patterns are emerging.

Here are the original survey talking points:

  • I want to use analytics to improve learning
  • I believe it is possible to demonstrate learning’s impact
  • Big data has a significant impact on my organisation
  • The success of my department is evaluated by…
  • I feel executive pressure to measure learning’s impact
  • The biggest challenge of measuring the impact of learning in my organisation is…

Is L&D really interested in its impact? Here are some of LEO’s findings:

When asked about the desire to use analytics to improve learning, an overwhelming majority agree that there’s huge benefit – 86% of respondents say that they want to use data analysis to improve learning impact.

Pie chart of responses on the desire of respondents to use analytics to improve learning

Further good news is that the results demonstrate that 78% strongly agree or agree that it is indeed possible to evidence learning impact, while conversely, just 7% feel that it cannot be measured.

Pie chart measuring whether respondents believe it is possible to demonstrate learning's impact

So if the desire is there and L&D teams believe that it’s now possible to accurately measure learning, then why isn’t this happening across the learning landscape? When it comes to the big stumbling blocks around measuring learning impact, by far the biggest reason given is ‘competing priorities’, which is leaps and bounds ahead of respondents saying they have no access to data, cost concerns or being unsure how to start.

Pie chart measuring various obstacles to learning

“Quite simply, the pressure to move into the next project is just too great. This trumps any analysis of the past,” says Piers, who cautions against the learning industry holding onto old, outdated modes of thinking. “There has been a history of companies failing to build a long-term picture of how L&D is helping business to achieve its objectives, but thanks to technological advancements, we’re on the brink of changing that.”

Click here to download the full insight.

If you’re interested in the research, from whatever angle, please get in touch with Piers directly at piers.lea@leolearning.com.