In-Focus: Aligning Learning to Business (2015)

by | Jul 26, 2015 | Featured, In-Focus Reports

Download this updated Towards Maturity In-Focus report at the bottom of this page for seven habits to help you align learning to business.

The CIPD’s 2015 Learning and Development study shows that only 25% of L&D leaders agree that their L&D and business strategy are fully aligned and integrated with lack of clarity regarding business strategy cited as one of the most common barriers to business alignment.

In our own studies with L&D leaders, we see that some organisations are overcoming these barriers and are enjoying the benefits that 2 way alignment with business delivers.

Updated Aligning Learning to Business Report

In 2012, Towards Maturity started to dig deeper into the behaviour of the top learning companies within the Towards Maturity Benchmark, to identify what constitutes the ‘well aligned’ learning and development function. We isolated seven habits of highly aligned L&D teams:

  • Actively involve business leaders in learning decisions
  • Use strategic business objectives to determine learning priorities
  • Focus on the end results
  • Integrate with HR and talent strategy
  • Demonstrate business value
  • Ensure staff understand their contribution
  • Enjoy proactive management commitment

Tracking Progress with the Alignment Index

Since then, we have been tracking the progress against these habits using the Alignment Index to consider how well organisations are aligning learning and business priorities.

Consistently overthe last 3 years, we have found that organisations that scored highly in the Alignment Index are more likely to report achievement of a range of business and staff benefits and that their managers agree that online learning delivers additional business benefits.

This year, compared with those in the bottom quartile, we continue to see that those in the top quartile are at least four times more likely to realise:

  • Increased organisational revenue
  • Improved productivity
  • Improved staff engagement
  • Reduced staff turnover

However, whilst the highly aligned organisations continue to pull ahead in all of these areas, generally proactive activity to align learning to business has been static at best. In many cases – we are less active today than 3 years ago. For example:

  • 29% of organisations assign board level accountability for organisational learning in 2014 ( compared to 37% in 2012)
  • 60% of L&D leaders currently agree that learning supports the skills the business needs (compared to 63% in 2012)
  • 43% regularly review programmes to ensure they support organisational goals (compared to 46% in 2013)

Alignment and Engagement: Two Sides of the Same Coin

The ability to align to the needs of the business has always been at the heart of the effective practice measured by the Towards Maturity Index. The new Alignment Index allows us to shine a spotlight on the extent to which L&D organisations are doing just that.

Top learning companies do not just exhibit the 7 characteristics discussed in this paper; they are also effective marketers, proactive in engaging and communicating with both staff and managers throughout the learning journey.

Download our complimentary paper on Building Staff Engagement HERE.

Track Your Progress Year-on-Year

The Towards Maturity Benchmark provides an opportunity to reflect on the effective practices of top performing learning teams that are both highly aligned and enjoy maximum engagement.

You are invited to complete your benchmark to:

  • Confidentially review your strategy against a framework of effective practices
  • Receive personal feedback on 24 performance improvement indices – including your alignment and engagement index.
  • Set a baseline to track improvement
  • Identify the next steps that your organisation needs to take

It is free to participate in the Towards Maturity Benchmark thanks to the support of our Ambassadors.


We have drawn on the data from the Towards Maturity 2014-15 Benchmark and originally worked closely with Jonathan Kettleborough, author of Seeing Eye to Eye, to bring you this paper.

This In-Focus report is free to download thanks to our Ambassador, Acteon Communication.

Please note that you need to be logged in /registered to download your copy. By downloading this report you agree for your email address to also be shared with Acteon. (Please contact us directly for a copy if you do not wish for your address to be shared).

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