L&D is becoming more strategic and cross-functional, but many industry pros are still zeroing in on how to properly measure the success of such programs. According to a 2022 LinkedIn Learning report called “The Transformation of L&D,” only 15% of surveyed learning leaders have active upskilling programs and just 5% have made it to the post-activation stage meant for assessing and reflecting on results.
Why does measurement continue to elude L&D teams, and how can you play catch up and master it across your workforce?
Axonify’s Chief Learning Architect JD Dillon and Rich Mesch from Performance Development Group (PDG) spoke about just this topic at AxoniCom LIVE 2021. They looked at how organizations can get better at their data practices so they can validate the value of learning on the frontline. They also offered practical tips for creating more personalized and impactful experiences for the people you support within your organization. Below are some of the top insights from their session.
AxoniCOM Live On Demand: The Data Gap
When traditional tactics just don’t cut it
The good news: if your business is experiencing measurement problems, you’re far from alone. Among the big challenges within workplace learning and development, especially when it comes to the frontline, Mesch attributes the data gap to the fact that L&D pros are still trying to get the most out of traditional tactics that just don’t work the way the business does.
The biggest problem with learning measurement today, according to Mesch: measuring the wrong things for the wrong audience.
“Learning experts are talking to businesspeople about learning stuff. And unfortunately, as passionate as we are about learning, businesses have a whole bunch of other metrics they use and care about. I think the biggest challenge we have with learning measurement is getting learning people to talk in business terms, about the things that matter to the business.”
Supporting your frontline efforts with crystal-clear reporting is one way to help every manager see the areas where their employees are most knowledgeable and confident or are in need of a refresher. This also makes it easier to prove that learning is worth the investment for your bottom line and employee development.
How (and why) to make measurement a priority in your workplace
Simply put: in order to draw a clear line between training and behavior, you need to measure learning.
“We want to establish that what we’re doing in learning is having the effect we want it to have,” says Mesch. “And the problem with that is there’s no way for us to know if it’s working or not, unless we measure it. Is anybody even taking the learning? Are they consuming it? Are they doing anything with what they’ve learned? Historically, we’ve tended to use knowledge as a metric. Knowledge is a very important thing, but ultimately businesses don’t measure success by how much you know, businesses measure success based on performance.”
There’s no reliable way for you to know if your training programs are working unless you attempt to measure their effectiveness. While it can be difficult to collect data around impact ROI, polishing your measurement strategy and making it a high priority can better enable your workplace to navigate disruption, hiring and recruitment challenges, onboarding and more.
How? Dillon says meaningful measurement reveals real-time insights about how your training programs are contributing to individual, team and company-level business targets, including how training is influencing business KPIs like basket size, CSAT, shrink or call resolution times.
“Learning is a continuous journey and it’s not a one-time event thing, it’s something that has to continue if you want people to meaningfully and sustainably change their performance on the job,” he says. “You have to measure the same way. It’s a continuum where you’re continuously measuring the right data and the right changes over time to then really connect the dots to say, ‘What we’re doing and the investment we’re putting into learning and development is actually yielding changes out there in the operation’.”
Moving beyond feedback forms and course counts to develop an understanding of the organizational impact on business priorities will prove to be invaluable in the long run.
Take the first step toward better measurement practices
Fixing the metrics problem and closing the data gap on your frontline can start small. Mesch advises that you identify your business values and find a way to measure for only the most important metrics to your specific learners.
“When you think about the people for whom you are designing, learning, and performance improvement, understand what the business wants the performance outcome to be and build everything you do around those metrics,” he says . “Figure out how the business is currently measuring, understand how you can leverage the tools and systems that they have in place to measure what you’re doing and measure what’s important to the business.”
“Don’t try to do everything all at once. Don’t try to move from, ‘We don’t measure anything’ to ‘We want to prove that we’ve driven a billion dollars in revenue’. Find the touch points, figure out where you can get this year, where you can get next year.”
It may seem intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. Take a broader look at the data you have in your organization and pick one project, use case or business objective and rethink how you measure, apply and analyze its data. Figure out what works, identify the gaps, and show the value of this additional effort to HQ so you can start to grow your measurement strategy today.