Learning Impact: A Progress Update
Making an impact with learning and development has been the bedrock of our research programme since 2003. How can L&D impact both organisational and business performance and what are the tactics of the most successful organisations?
One area that has grabbed our attention for some time is the way that L&D go about demonstrating value back to the business. In our 2015-16 Industry Benchmark Report Embracing Change, we see that 9 out of 10 L&D leaders around the globe are are looking to improve business agility employee engagement and business performance – all critical business issues. At the same time, 45% report that a significant barrier to change is that our initiatives are just not seen as a management priority.
To address this issue, it is critical that L&D need to become more confident in understanding and articulating the impact that we are having. This is too big an issue to ignore, so we’ve decided to dig deeper into the data that we have from 600 L&D leaders in last year’s benchmark to answer these questions:
- What is learning impact?
- Why is it important?
- Where do we start?
- How do we go deeper?
We will be releasing the findings in early June, in a new In-Focus report thanks to the support of our founding Ambassador LEO. In the meantime, here’s some early findings from our exploration so far:
Today’s L&D leaders understand the importance of data in demonstrating value but we’re failing to act on it:
- 96% of L&D leaders in the study are looking to improve the way they gather and analyse data on learning impact. However, only 17% are achieving it in 2015 – a figure that has dropped from 26% in 2010.
We are struggling to getting to grips establishing basic benchmarks on learning impact:
- 24% know how long it takes for learners to become competent in their job roles
- 17% know the opportunity costs about the different ways that staff learn
L&D are potentially a negative bunch – those that guessed at the impact of their programmes, considerably underestimated the value that they added compared with those who measured their impact:
- Those that measured improvements in time to competency reported a 12% improvement, those who guessed reported a 9% improvement.
- Those that measured the increase in the reach of their programme programme reported at 31% improvement vs a 14% improvement from those that guessed.
Only half of us think about impact at the beginning of the learning process:
- 55% analyse the business problem before recommending a solution
- 31% identify KPI’s up front with business that they want to achieve
- 36% have a plan for how we will meet the agreed business metrics/KPIs
- 17% measure specific business metrics when evaluating the effectiveness of learning technologies
Learning impact is more than just traditional ROI but few of us are capturing and sharing stories of success:
- 40% encourage peer-to-peer feedback about the impact of learning
- 26% publicise the successes of individuals
The early findings have really whetted our appetite to find out more and we will be publishing the report and suggested action plans in Early June.
Benchmark Your L&D Strategy
At Towards Maturity, we have identified six workstreams that characterise successful, high performing organisations. From these workstreams, we have developed a common framework of effective practice.
Benchmarking against that framework helps L&D pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of their own organisation, work out what needs to change and map out actions. In short, the Towards Maturity Benchmark is a structured framework that helps learning leaders under pressure identify the actions that will bring tangible results in the workplace. It helps you to work out how to get from A to B!
Having clear evidence is a vital starting point in identifying where improvement is needed and backing up your business case for change. We spoke with Emma Smith, Head of Talent at FirstPort Limited, a residential property management company. She had used the Towards Maturity Learning Health Check in a previous role and has now brought this tool to her new organisation in order to help transform their workplace learning culture.
Towards Maturity Learning Health Check provides an ideal starting point for organisations wanting to improve their development, by giving clear evidence and comparisons with high-performing learning cultures. To get a real idea of how the Health Check has a proven business impact, we spoke with Robin Lilly, Capabilities and Leadership Development Director of Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, to hear his experiences.
The L&D profession is under pressure to transform and become future-fit in order to stay ahead of the demands of work and workers. The profession is finding it hard to influence and allow their expertise to gain traction, with 78% of L&D professionals saying that their leaders have traditional expectations of L&D that are difficult to challenge.
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Today, over 98% of organisations are on a mission to transform the impact of their learning strategy and the majority of L&D leaders are focusing on accelerating digital because they believe it holds the key to help more people increase their performance.
In 2018, 93% of learning practitioners wanted to increase employee engagement with learning, but only 27% were successful. With less than a third meeting this goal, it is important to explore how an exemplar organisation turned their learning strategy on its head to achieve just that. Read more about how Mitchells & Butlers teamed up with Kineo to become Gold award winners at Learning Technologies Awards 2018.
With only 21% of learning professionals successfully harmonising learning across their organisation, it is clear that whatever methods we are using at present to take learning to scale are largely failing.