Key Insights: 5 Years of Measuring the Business Impact of Learning

We’ve come a long way in the last five years when it comes to how people perceive and prioritize learning measurement. And the past year has definitely impacted the way we think about and approach the way we deliver and measure training. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some highlights from our fifth annual “Measuring the Business Impact of Learning” report and what these might mean for the year to come.

The Evolution of Training Measurement

For the last five years, we’ve partnered with LEO Learning for our “Measuring the Business Impact of Learning” survey and resulting report. This year’s report looks at COVID-19, L&D priorities, and how measurement has evolved since we first began the survey. And the results show us the pervasive importance of measuring the business impact of learning. Even with the challenges and pressures of the global pandemic, those with measurement strategies in place have thrived and many of those without strategies still consider it a top priority.

To date, the survey has reached more than 1,700 global L&D leaders to assess a range of topics surrounding learning measurement, including:

  • Executive pressure to measure the business impact of learning
  • Budgets, tools, and capabilities
  • Barriers to effective learning measurement
  • How L&D departments are evaluated
  • The impact of big data

In addition, respondents were asked to share the main impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on their departments, targets, and priorities. The report also covers topics such as the importance of maintaining measurement, the impact of disruptive global events, and the key differences between return on investment (ROI) and return on expectation (ROE)—and why organizations should focus on the latter.

And here are just two of our key insights:

1) The intent to measure remains the same.

Although nearly half of the organizations we surveyed are prioritizing operational and staffing changes before they’re able to focus on learning measurement, L&D can use these changes to their advantage. Specifically, these changes can serve as a guide to inform current and future learning programs to better meet the needs of the organization.

Nearly 20 percent of the organizations we surveyed, however, are actually doubling down on their learning measurement and implementation efforts. So it makes sense that organizations that already had measurement in place had an easier time focusing and iterating on their strategies.

Our previous reports have shown a key trend in executive pressure toward measurement initiatives—which still remains high despite the challenges during the last year. And there is a clear direction during the last five years: a willingness to “get measurement done” and executive pressure to do so. As a result, we think it’s safe to assume the next five years will see more organizations converting intent into action.

2) Has remote working changed learning measurement?

Another interesting finding is the dip in agreement about wanting to measure learning. Perhaps it shows that many of us are in survival mode. We have less time to be strategic and, as a result, less concerned about measurement.

There’s also an anomalous uptick in disagreement about big data having a significant impact. Maybe it’s just noise, or maybe it has something to do with going to a remote workforce. Regardless, why has this number decreased by nearly 20 percentage points compared to the previous year?

Another result that sticks out is that a majority of respondents said the success of their department is evaluated by learner satisfaction. That’s 50 percent above the average for the survey’s entire history. Perhaps this is a result of so many people working remotely and wanting to ensure learners remain engaged and satisfied with their training.

Where to Go from Here

Although this year’s report comes during a very unique time, many of the issues raised in previous surveys remain relevant. But every year, however, we’re able to refine our solutions and recommendations based on the feedback from survey participants. That said, one piece of advice hasn’t wavered since we first began this journey: Simply starting to collect your learning data is the most important step. Remember, you can’t have too much data—as long as it’s good data.

Curious for more? Read the full report.

Check out all of our findings, industry commentary, and more by downloading the full Measuring the Business Impact of Learning report.

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And the learning measurement survey says...

See how global changes have affected the world of learning and development by reading our fifth annual survey report with LEO Learning. It shares an evolving picture of L&D’s relationship with measurement and business impact—including real-world examples and extended commentary.

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