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Redefining indicators of success in learning and development

Measuring the impact of discussing better development

It is time to talk about how we look at learning and development (L&D) programs. Technology is changing the way we measure the success of every department in an organization, and measuring end-to-end data at every customer point of contact has become the norm. The impact of these changes on key performance indicators (KPIs) and other indicators of success in the organization – from marketing and research and development (R&D) to products, customer support and sales – stimulates new levels of efficiency and productivity.

Surprisingly, however, when it comes to measuring the success of L&D organizational programs, things haven’t changed much. Internet and digital transformation that have emerged since then have hardly touched on how we measure employee development programs – so far.

L&D 2.0

L&D is in the midst of an evolutionary shift. The onset of recent trends such as digital transformation and automation in the workplace, combined with the impact of COVID-19, forces us to change the way we perceive, use and measure L&D programs.

With the transition to internet marketing organizations have introduced return on investment (ROI) as a quantitative measure of marketing success. Similarly, businesses operating on the road are beginning to align the performance of their L&D programs with the relative impact they have on the end result. Quantitative indicators representing the savings in recruitment and staff achieved through retraining, for example, should be attached to each participant in the training program.

L&D is moving from an employee advantage aimed at improving motivation to a strategic asset of the organization that can provide competitive advantage in the future. This seismic shift means that, as for other strategic activities in the enterprise, the measurement of L&D needs to become more data-driven and in line with business impact indicators. This approach is the only way to set benchmarks for success and enable continuous improvement and efficiency.

Do more for less

The economic impact of COVID-19 means that efficiency and performance are becoming the most important indicators. As organizations cut costs and budgets, “doing more with less” has become the official mantra of 2020. At the same time, skills gaps are growing, and the proliferation of automation and digital transformation is changing the face of the workforce.

Digital competencies and knowledge in the field of software use have left the realm of “pleasant to have”. In the modern workplace, they have become mandatory for many jobs. The ability of employees to learn becomes crucial to the success of the organization. Meanwhile, the organization’s ability to sustain retraining in the workplace through effective L&D programs has been key to unlocking growth and ensuring future competitiveness.

Moving L&D

Measuring a slight improvement in specific skills acquired in the context of curricula is the first step towards an L&D revolution in an organization. The main goal of these programs is to teach employees the appropriate practical skills that will help organizations achieve their business goals and reduce staff turnover. Thus, professional development is the only true measure of their effectiveness.

Organizations need to start implementing ongoing skills assessment, training and measurement as core principles of their activities and culture. Only after we are able to draw a clear line between the outcome of training programs – skills learning, management and improvement – and business metrics can L&D take its rightful place as a key factor in business value.

Measuring the effectiveness of L&D programs by completion rate gives only a partial picture. As budgets shrink and the need for retraining and retraining of employees becomes more acute, the demand for effective L&D programs becomes more and more significant. To adapt to this reality, the learning dimension must be aligned with the return on business investment.

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