L&D Survey Results: Red Flags, the C-Suite & More

A lot has happened during the past year. SpaceX became the first to successfully re-launch and land the first stage of an orbital rocket. A total solar eclipse blocked out the sun across the United States. And, perhaps most surprising, executives started to take notice of L&D’s existence.

In September 2016, Watershed worked with our partners at LEO to survey hundreds of L&D professionals across the globe about learning measurement within their organizations.

We repeated that survey at the close of 2017, and it raised some warning signs for the future of L&D. Here's a recap of the results. (You can read the full report here)

The Good: We're on the right path.

It’s not surprising that 95% of learning and development practitioners want to measure learning’s impact across the business. This includes organizational KPIs and other related goals. 

Desire is the first step to intention, and intention leads to action.

So, it’s safe to assume that a large number of organizations are already on the path to measuring learning impact.

The Bad: Our assumptions were wrong.

More than 80% of L&D departments aren’t evaluating their impacts on the business. And what’s more surprising, nearly a fifth of L&D isn't evaluated at all!

Well, it’s likely that the organization didn’t require the L&D department and its programs to be evaluated beyond learner satisfaction.

So, if there’s no requirement to go the extra mile, why take extra time to do work that’s not requested—especially if competing priorities continue to stand in the way of analyzing learning’s impact?

The Ugly: Executive demand is imminent.

Though most L&D departments aren’t evaluated on their business impact, there’s been a major shift in leadership expectations of L&D during the past 12 months.

In fact, 60% of surveyed practitioners reported that they feel more pressure from their executive teams to demonstrate L&D’s impact across the organization. That’s up 71% from last year.

That means most of us aren’t measuring the business impact of learning (though we really want to), and our bosses are starting to ask for it. That’s pretty scary to think about. After all, what’ll happen when executive pressure turns into executive demand?

Don’t panic. There’s good news.

The knowledge of this upward (pressure) trend allows L&D to get in front of it. We all want to start measuring training impact so we can optimize our programs, impact behavior, and figure out how to affect organizational KPIs.

So, if our bosses are starting to ask for it, we’ve got a lot more bargaining power in prioritizing learning measurement and analytics against other priorities.

The Lesson: Don’t get caught off guard.

Start collecting data proactively. Completion reports and smile sheets aren’t going to cut it when you’re asked about the effectiveness of your learning or training programs.

You don’t need to rewrite the book. Just begin implementing data-gathering practices that will help lay a foundation for ongoing learning measurement.

Remember, learning is already happening all over your organization, while performance and behavior are tracked in other business systems.

So, start small, and by this time next year, you’ll have enough data to tell even the most basic yet insightful story.

WEBINAR: Fast Lane to Learning Measurement

Set your team up for success and watch this 30-minute crash course webinar. We'll show you how to start tracking and measuring learning within your organization.

To help you tell a story that resonates with the C-suite, we've:

  • recapped the most pressing challenges reported by L&D survey respondents;
  • covered levels of measurement sophistication—including content usage, performance improvement, and organizational impact;
  • explored examples of how to get started with your existing systems; and
  • provided free resources so you can get some results before asking for a budget increase.

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And the learning measurement survey says...

See how global changes have affected the world of learning and development by reading the results from our seventh annual survey. 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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