We #StandWithUkraine, find out how to help here.
Last updated: 10.12.18

Workplace learning: How can your business measure development?

Workplace learning and development is crucial to the success of any business, yet many companies are unsure of how to measure this. Here we take a look.

Improving learning experiences and incorporating more informal and experiential learning is a great way to develop the skills of any workforce. Staff appreciate employers that value them, listen to their queries and provide them with the training and development they need to progress within their careers.

However, the type of learning and development tools or training sessions provided to these professionals must be necessary. There is little point in offering development in areas that are irrelevant or misplaced. This is why it is crucial for businesses to measure how effective learning and development methods are.

With the introduction of games, simulations, collaboration, virtual reality and so on, the measurement of learning and development becomes all the more difficult to analyse. According to Brandon Hall Group’s 2016 Learning Measurement Study, only 54 per cent of companies said they were effective or very effective at measuring formal learning. Yet when it came to informal learning, only 13 per cent of companies believed they were doing this effectively, and 22 per cent for experiential learning.

Why are companies struggling to measure learning?

David Wentworth, research analyst with Brandon Hall Group, believes that when we look at what companies are measuring, it’s easy to see why it’s not effective. “I have absolutely zero idea how the fact that a certain percentage of employees completed a course translates into any sort of result,” he said.

“It is simply a measure of the efficiency of learning, not the efficacy. Numbers two and three aren’t much better: post-course questionnaires and smile sheets, respectively.” While learner engagement is important, employee satisfaction isn’t enough to know whether or not a learning session was effective, Mr Wentworth argues.

Learning assessments have more detail, but still don’t reflect whether or not the learning is having an impact. In general, the learning function is far more concentrated on how well it is delivering learning than it is with what the learning actually means to the business. Instead of the outcome being something that has been learned, it should be measured on behaviour and performance.

A shift from learning to performance

Mr Wentworth believes that learning professionals need to be more focused on improving performance metrics and not learning metrics. So instead of fixating on completion rates, they must look in more detail at outcomes that have a direct impact on the business or organisation.

Although there isare a significant proportion of businesses that are getting learning and development measurement right, there are also many that aren’t and this is something that is damaging to the business and its employees. Large corporations, for example, that have KPIs measuring revenue, market share and customer satisfactions, often improve every year because they better understand how to measure learning against actual outcomes. Much research has proven that high organisational performance correlates with solid learning measurement.

How can smaller businesses measure learning?

For smaller businesses, measuring learning can be different. Depending, of course, on the sector, employers and HR professionals can analyse a series of indicators to measure the impact of training on performance. This can include cost per lead, cost per converted lead, pitch success rates, call out times, productive hours, enquiry response time, and customer complaints.

Productivity can also be a way to measure learning. By asking questions regarding staff turnover, levels of effort, and retention of staff - for example - businesses can see how effective their learning and development methods are.

Do you need help with learning and development training in your company? Contact Virtual College today.

Related resources