New research shows a leap in L&D pressure to measure learning’s impact
Posted on 26th January, 2018 by Ben Miller
Organisations that delay on plans to gather learning data are missing out on highly valuable indicators years into the future. Getting started with measuring the business impact of learning is a key step that L&D professionals are striving towards. And LEO’s latest research supports this, with results showing a 71% increase in L&D pressure to measure learning’s impact.
Although executives are increasingly recognising the huge opportunities provided by a big data approach, many companies are still hesitant to begin building the foundations that support learning impact measurement.
Given time, a solid business impact measurement strategy on learning leads to indispensable insights, and allows L&D teams to conclusively prove the value of programmes as well as correlations to organisational KPIs.
So how has the approach and attitude of L&D teams changed when it comes to business impact measurement? As part of LEO’s wider work, our second annual Measuring the Business Impact of Learning survey received responses from an impressive range of international organisations.
Nearly 700 organisations have now taken part in the two surveys, including the likes of Deloitte, Disney, Amazon and Volvo. Like our partners in the project, data specialists Rustici Software and Watershed, these groups understand the long-term value of delivering sustainable measurement strategies. They’re also contributing to the collaborative thought process that will shape a future in which accurate learning measurement is commonplace.
Business impact measurement survey results
In order to create a direct comparison, this year’s questions repeated those asked on business impact measurement in 2017, and the trends that emerged are equally interesting.
Awareness and ambition among training executives has risen to the point where almost everyone agrees that measuring the business impact of learning is a priority. This is augmented by a marked increase in confidence that impact can be demonstrated, with the number of people who are unsure about being able to do so dropping steeply.
Other notable observations in the 2018 survey include:
- A 77% increase in appreciation of the role a big data approach can play in supporting organisational decisions
- A 71% rise in the number of training managers experiencing pressure to justify investment in L&D
- A range of perceived challenges to measuring impact, with “competing priorities” remaining the most prominent
Sharp rise in L&D pressure to measure
One of the most notable results – indicative of a barrier that LEO and our collaborators are helping to break down – is an increase in the number of L&D professionals who say that they don’t know how to get started on measuring impact.
This was also a clear trend at our measurement workshops with L&D leaders at the Royal Institution in London. In some cases, we found that organisations had spent years struggling to work out where to start with their business impact measurement strategy – but if they had begun to collect data during that time, they would now be in a far stronger position to start drawing powerful insights that bring about positive organisational change.
The longer data is collected for, the more information it can give an organisation. As our report reflects, the enterprise organisation that challenged its head of L&D to prove the value of spend in 25 days was setting an enormous, and arguably unrealistic, target.
Mike Rustici, the Founder and CEO of Watershed and one of the world’s leading experts on learning data, says the best way for L&D departments to be prepared for this kind of situation is to start on the groundwork now.
Then, by using incisive analytics, learning teams can set baselines and establish a compelling dossier of evidence to show the impact of learning across the entire organisation.
Giving L&D its say
Alongside the answers to the survey’s questions, the specific comments left by our respondents were also revealing.
Some spoke of the challenges of simplifying data collection and analysis, or winning hearts and minds at management level. There is also plenty to be encouraged by, such as the significant improvements in staff turnover, engagement and goal achievement one organisation recorded by tweaking and measuring its onboarding process.
Need practical steps for dealing with L&D pressure to measure? Then download LEO’s ‘10 key components for measuring the business impact of learning’.