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Measuring Learning Success: Connecting Value to Business Impact

Over the last year, LearnUpon has been on a mission. We want to create a safe space where you—the learning leader, the trainer, the L&D expert—can confidently talk about measuring learning.

I’ve personally taken a huge role in getting this message out. As Enterprise Customer Success Director at LearnUpon, this is a topic I’m extremely passionate about. Whenever I can talk to L&D people, customers, or other industry experts on the subject, I do. That’s why I jumped at the chance to join a webinar hosted by Personnel Today.

Guests Greig Aitken, Head of Colleague Strategy & Insight at NatWest Group, and Krissie Billingham, Client Experience (EMEA and APAC) at Degreed, shared so many profound information nuggets about learning metrics, here’s a breakdown of the key takeaways from the session.

The learning metric “comfort zone”

During our session, one talking point came up time and time again: what we are measuring versus what we should be measuring.

Human beings naturally gravitate towards what they’re comfortable with, and as L&D leaders we are no different. We stick with metrics that we have control over, like engagement or completions or feedback. And, although these are must-measure numbers, they aren’t the ones that show the real impact of learning on the organization as a whole.

Instead, as Krissie Billingham, Client Experience (EMEA and APAC) at Degreed says we need to focus on “the new metrics”, like sales targets, NPS, employee and customer retention. Otherwise, we’re doing ourselves a disservice as we’re underselling the value of learning.

It falls into the trap of being seen as a cost-center to leadership, instead of what it should be — a tool that drives real positive change across your organization.

Pinpointing the metrics that matter

For L&D teams, we need to empower ourselves to think bigger and relate our learning back to the business. Krissie from Degreed said it best, “We need to know we’re not a cost center. We need to know what we’re doing right. We need to be clear on the progress that we’re driving”.

But, how?

For Greig Aitken, Head of Colleague Strategy & Insight at NatWest Group, it’s all about “starting with the business strategy”, and he’s right on the money. If your business is trying to improve employee retention by 10% over the next 2 years, then that’s what you should focus on. If your business is looking to increase sales by 30% over the next 3 years, then that’s the focus.

From here, you can identify critical behavior changes throughout the organization that needs to happen to meet these goals and build learning that proves that L&D is the agent of these changes.

Speaking the leadership language

“Executives that were confident in HR’s ability to navigate changes were 2.9 times more likely to report that their organization was very ready to adapt, reskill, and assume new roles.”

Deloitte, Five workforce trends to watch in 2021

Equally important to knowing where you can have an impact, is selling it to leadership. You need to demonstrate to them that L&D is a strategy worth getting behind and that it really can move the needle.

For Krissie, it’s not just about what you’re saying, but how you say it that matters. She believes that L&D needs to elevate how they speak to leadership so that we’re communicating a message about learning that truly resonates.

“How, as L&D people, do we speak in a language that our organization can get behind and understand; a language that our executives speak? That can really help to drive confidence, understanding and credibility as it relates to learning.”

Krissie Billingham, Client Experience (EMEA and APAC) at Degreed

This means becoming evidence-based. Whether it’s qualitative or quantitative or a mix of both, arm yourself with all the data you can get that shows the current and projected impact of learning.

Mine the data

Although data holds the key to proving learning value to leadership, many L&D teams are lost when it comes to this area. In fact, in a recent study we did at LearnUpon, lack of data was ranked as one of the top challenges to measuring learning ROI.

However, if it’s a metric that’s important to your business, I believe there’s data available. Whether it’s the sales target, employee retention, NPS – someone has that data, and you just have to not be shy about asking for it!

It’s not just about the data you can get your hands on, it’s about what you do with it. Greig explains,My experience of HR functions is that you have too much data. What we don’t do is use the stuff. It’s all over the place.” Here’s where getting an outside perspective can really help.

By either tapping into the people within your business that know how to handle data or upskilling your team on the critical data points, you’ll put yourself in a much better position to showcase learning success.

A good partner

With all the insightful points being made, there was one key takeaway I want to reinforce, and that’s having a good technology partner.

When working with your learning tech vendor, their goal for you shouldn’t just be to provide you with learning software. It should be to guide and push you to have the best results you can achieve.

As Krissie says, Good partners aren’t the ones who will skip alongside you, saying ‘okay, you want to do that, that’s great’. Good partners are the ones who will say ‘are you sure? What about if you went a little further?’” And, when looking for an LMS, LXP or any other technology, that’s what I encourage you to do.

Measuring Learning Success: Connecting Value to Business Impact

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