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7 Steps for Effective Learning Impact Measurement in 2024

written by Asma A. Shaikh December 8, 2023

As another year comes to an end, most L&D leaders are busy planning their L&D strategy for the upcoming year: creating the 2024 budget, crafting learning campaigns, and striving to gather support from C-suite for plans.

Getting management buy-in for L&D initiatives is oftentimes not an easy task. One way to get that nod is by showcasing the learning impact of your L&D efforts. And to do so, the key step is to measure that learning impact. One could think, that should not a very difficult task given the array of tracking tools, and cutting-edge technologies in analytics available to HR and L&D teams.

However, reality suggests it is not always as simple as it seems.

Sample this: As per a LinkedIn report, only 8% of CEOs saw the business impact of L&D programs, and less than 4% had a clear ROI. Similarly, an Accenture study shows that even though a majority of organizations evaluate learning impact, assessments often focus on gauging participant satisfaction through surveys. Only about 16% delve deeper into evaluating behavioral change by assessing the application of acquired knowledge in the workplace.

In short, consistently measuring learning impact remains a challenge. L&D teams allocate significant time, resources, and effort to select the right L&D partner, establish learning journeys, choose robust platforms, and deliver tailored training to learners. Naturally, they want tangible outcomes from these endeavors.

In this blog, we will discuss seven very effective ways to measure the impact of your learning initiatives.

How to Measure Learning Impact in 7 Easy Steps

Measuring the effectiveness of learning and development need not be a complex process. Let’s deep dive into some straightforward steps that can be implemented starting now:

Step 1: Analyze Organization’s Needs and Align Learning Goals

The first phase of any L&D strategy is checking the major requirements and goals of the organization. What specific needs do your employees have so that they can better contribute to business growth? What objectives do you envisage for your teams? In a changing tech and digital landscape, your workforce needs to develop the resilience necessary to navigate it. How can they do that? It’s also about how you can make your workforce future-ready and outlining the steps needed to achieve this goal.

Thinking of all the above-mentioned aspects offers a comprehensive overview of your talent needs, establishing connections between key business strategies, company objectives, and accompanying learning requirements.

Step 2: Determine Skills Gap

In most organizations, there is likely a gap between skills of the future and skills currently possessed by your workforce. As per a Gartner report, as many as 64% of managers express doubt about their employees’ ability to keep up with future skill requirements.

It is, therefore, necessary to conduct a comprehensive skills analysis to pinpoint the existing skills gap within your organization. It should start with clearly defining the company’s mission and goals, and identifying the skills required to achieve both present and future objectives.

The next phase should be evaluating the competencies of current employees as well as identifying their strengths and areas where they need upskilling or reskilling. Once the deficient skills are identified, the last step is exploring the most effective L&D strategy to plug the gap.

Step 3: Create and Outline Key L&D Metrics

Once the decision has been made to invest in upskilling, the next step is to define the core L&D metrics for your organizations. Initial metrics often revolve around employee participation, including attendance rates for courses. Additionally, metrics gauging the level of employee interest in the training are crucial indicators.

There are some other important Key Performance Indicators (KPI) too that help check learning impact. One is hours of training which means tracking the duration devoted to face-to-face training and the time employees invest in overall learning activities. Another is completion rates that is all about checking how many students successfully finish the course vis-à-vis those who drop out.

Training and exam scores are the other KPIs that cover assessment of the success of exams, understanding learner scores, and gauging the number of attempts made to achieve desired results. Evaluating student satisfaction with the training content is another KPI which involves rating communication and collaboration with the trainer, and assessing the ease of applying newly acquired skills. Checking the cost of training too is important including direct and indirect training costs.

Step 4: Selecting the Right Evaluation Methods

Selecting the right evaluation model to measure learning impact is the next important step. Checking behavioral change and assessing the effectiveness of training in terms of ROI needs a proper evaluation process. One well-known method for doing this is the Kirkpatrick model, which can effectively gauge training effectiveness and its impact on your organization.

This model uses four levels of evaluation.

Reaction Level: This phase centres around gauging participant satisfaction and focuses on the key takeaways. It delves into the participants’ training experience, evaluating factors such as content engagement, ease of navigating course material, and the clarity of learning objectives. Typically, this level is assessed through evaluation forms, commonly known as ‘smile-sheets’, where participants grade the training.

Learning Level: The emphasis here is on the learning outcomes including knowledge and skills that participants can demonstrate post-training. It is also about observable changes in behavior, and checking if participants feel confident applying their newfound knowledge at work. The level of accuracy and comprehension is evaluated through assessments, exams, or skills tests, providing a clear indication of whether the intended results have been achieved.

Behavior Level: This stage assesses behavioral change resulting from the training. It checks whether participants are genuinely implementing what they have learned in their day-to-day work. Evaluation methods include pre-and post-training assessments, along with on-the-job assessments conducted sometime after the training to ensure sustained application.

Result Level: The final level focuses on the direct consequences of behavioral change for the company. This involves checking for tangible outcomes resulted from the altered behaviour. For instance, did time management training lead to reduced absenteeism? Depending on the nature of the training, predefined KPIs guide the measurement of training ROI based on achieved results.

Step 5: Evaluate Engagement for True ROI

Determining the true Return on Investment (ROI) of learning goes beyond merely distributing questionnaires and evaluation forms. Given that effectiveness of training is innately linked to employee engagement, measuring engagement data helps organizations better understand what resonates with their teams and optimize their training strategies.

Engagement is central for various reasons—lack of involvement hampers employee growth, and a failure to provide learning opportunities is a commonly mentioned factor for employee dissatisfaction and turnover. Therefore, measuring and enhancing engagement is critical for nurturing talent and retaining valuable employees.

Step 6: Embed L&D into Workflow

In order to recognize the significance of behavioral change in mastering new skills, it is crucial to view training as an integral part of overall learning that translates into practical application. Learning in the flow of work plays a pivotal role in this process.

Seamlessly integrating L&D into employees’ daily work routines enhances knowledge retention. Contrary to traditional classroom-based training, learning in the flow of work depends on less formal practices like microlearning, making it more adaptable to daily business operations and less time-consuming.

Step 7: Harness AI-Driven Learning Platforms for Analytics

Leveraging an AI-powered LMS or LXP with robust Reporting and Analytics features offers a comprehensive perspective for measuring learning impact. It enables easy tracking of key insights and data, facilitating the identification of patterns in your training program that require enhancement.

Wrapping Up

As organizations plan their L&D strategy for 2024, successfully measuring and showcasing the impact of L&D programs plays a vital role. Aligning L&D initiatives with business KPIs, emphasizing performance metrics, and engaging stakeholders can optimize enhance employee engagement.

By adopting effective measurement strategies, organizations can cultivate a culture of continuous learning and get management buy-in.

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Asma A. Shaikh

As the Co-founder and Managing Director at Enthral, Asma plays a pivotal role in the company’s mission to facilitate digital learning transformations across global enterprises. An expert in Solutioning, Operations Management, Business Development and Business Relationship Management, she leads Enthral’s Sales, Operations and Customer Success teams. Through her 23+ years of experience in the learning domain, Asma has held leadership roles at several prominent ed tech companies. Prior to founding Enthral in 2009, Asma spearheaded the development of custom eLearning solutions, directed large teams and managed enterprise accounts based out of North America. Asma has a degree in Management from Symbiosis, Pune and is a Certificate holder as a Professional in Learning and Performance from the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD).

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