Nearly 70 percent of learning and development (L&D) teams report feeling pressure from leadership to measure learning’s impact, according to an annual survey by LEO Learning and Watershed. This year’s results show a 38 percent increase from respondents who strongly agree there is pressure to measure compared to 2018.
“With a total sample size of almost 1,000, we now have a compelling body of evidence on the attitudes, challenges and activity around measurement in L&D over the last three years,” said Piers Lea, Chief Strategy Officer at LEO Learning. “This year’s survey results overwhelmingly show organizations want to measure the business impact of learning and believe it is possible to do so.”
The survey found that 96 percent of respondents want to measure learning’s impact, but only 50 percent are evaluating learning based on ROI, job performance and organizational impact. An increasing amount of respondents (28 percent) report not knowing how to get started when it comes to learning measurement.
“To create a more nuanced, multi-faceted picture of the business impact of learning, we recommend L&D teams first focus on their data gathering strategy,” said Tim Dickinson, Director of Learning Analytics Strategy at Watershed. “As L&D teams create a comprehensive data-driven picture of the effectiveness of learning across their organizations, they can combine this with data from other areas in the business to start building evidence of business impact.”
LEO Learning and Watershed have found that a big data approach is key to solving the challenges around measuring the business impact of learning. This is done by collecting as much data as possible and looking for patterns, rather than hoping to make concrete connections with limited data sets.
“To measure true business impact requires learning departments to be well aligned with existing business goals or metrics,” Dickinson said. “To get aligned, start small. Choose a business metric that is underperforming, then develop a learning program to improve that metric, and identify the data points needed to measure that program alongside business KPIs.”
When it comes to the use of learning data to deliver personalized learning, the survey found 86 percent of L&D teams want to use learning data to deliver personalized learning, but only 21 percent are doing this now. Nearly 40 percent report not knowing how to get started or what tools to use.
“The survey results confirm that the pressure to measure isn’t going away,” Lea said. “LEO Learning and Watershed can help organizations implement learning measurement strategies by holistically evaluating data collection strategies, team capabilities, and available technology. Based on the results we are seeing with clients, in a few years we will all wonder why we didn’t start measuring learning sooner. It may be because of a lack of good data capture and visualization technology. But that’s available now, so there is no problem with getting started.”
Download the report to see the full results.