Measuring the benefits of your communication and learning & development strategy
Measuring the benefits of L&D and comms initiatives remains a challenge. Just one in eight learning and development professionals¹ believe their organization measures the return on investment of learning programmes. Success can be measured either through quantitative measurement or qualitative change, but whatever approach is chosen, effective measurement is vital to ensure L&D and comms strategies are delivering on objectives and attract future investment.
However, in many organizations, communication between business stakeholders and the learning and development department is simply not strong enough to result in the development of robust and measurable learning objectives that are clearly aligned with business strategy. This issue is not new, but if learning is to be effective, it is more important than ever that HR and learning professionals are stakeholders at the top table with a full understanding of what the business is trying to achieve and how learning can enhance competencies in order to meet those objectives.
A key starting point is to carry out a comprehensive audit of current learning provision as a baseline to measure improvement. Yet too many L&D professionals are falling at the first hurdle. Only 17% know the opportunity costs of the different ways that employees learn according to Towards Maturity². The study also revealed that only a quarter of (24%) L&D professionals know how long it takes employees to become competent in their core job roles.
Aligning soft skills learning to business metrics
Soft skills such as language, communications and leadership skills are as important as functional skills to business success. Aligning the metrics from soft skills learning and development to business objectives might at first appear to be a significant challenge, but there is no doubt that poor communication can have a measurable effect on productivity. In one case, a global manufacturing business was experiencing communication issues arising from lack of standardisation leading to employees attempting to order parts from other countries unsuccessfully, resulting in delays, costs running into millions of Euros and lost productivity.
In many business contexts, conversational English language skills are not sufficient and it is important that the company can accurately assess employee attainment in business English. The benefits of higher levels of skill may then be measured in terms of improved productivity, reduced logistics costs and a positive impact on the bottom line.
Less employee frustration also results in higher levels of engagement and motivation.
Here are some starting points for L&D professionals looking to more effectively measure the return on investment in learning and development in relation to business objectives in their company:
- Audit current L&D measurement. Are you measuring e-learning completion rates but failing to align e-learning delivery closely to business objectives? Are you measuring the benefits of some types of learning, such as compliance training, while failing to account for ROI on L&D initiatives aimed at softer skills such as communication skills development?
- Consider using more than one method of ROI measurement. Brinkerhoff’s Success Case Method, the Kirkpatrick Learning Evaluation Model and Phillips Model for Learning Evaluation are all useful methods of learning evaluation. It is a good idea to use more than one to cross check findings, spot outliers and identify successful learning – and gaps – more effectively. Employ quantitative measurement of L&D initiatives aimed at soft skills development alongside qualitative measures, always keeping in mind the key metric of how the initiative is contributing to the bottom line.
- Include measurable HR benefits. Enhancing employee language and communication skills goes beyond driving better productivity and engagement. A workforce with high level of communication skills increases internal mobility within global businesses at times when finding highly qualified staff is a challenge, which leads to better retention rates and reducing recruitment and on-boarding costs.
Measurement boosts investment
Detailed measurement of the benefits that L&D is producing is key to making the case for further investment in learning. However, as L&D delivery becomes a complex blend, encompassing e-learning, classroom training and coaching and mentoring, it can be increasingly difficult to measure all the benefits accurately. Many companies are encouraging a learning culture, where learners may source their own learning content alongside completing traditional classroom courses. Some companies are delivering a very wide range of micro-learning, including the latest mobile gamified learning.
As learning delivery becomes increasingly sophisticated, it is more important than ever for L&D professionals to reach out beyond their own department and work with suppliers, partners, and HR and recruitment colleagues to develop the best way of measuring the business benefits of learning.
Connect with HR and L&D peers from across the world and learn from top industry experts at Speexx Exchange 2018, in Berlin.
About the author
Armin Hopp is the Founder and President of Speexx. Speexx helps large organisations everywhere to drive productivity by empowering employee communication skills across borders. It offers an award-winning range of cloud-based online language learning solutions for Business English, Spanish, German, Italian and French. More than 8 million users in 1,500 organisations use Speexx to learn a language smarter and deliver results on time. For more information, visit www.speexx.com.
Compare your L&D strategy with the Towards Maturity Health Check
Compare your L&D strategy
Review your L&D strategy to discover your strengths and opportunities for improvement with the Towards Maturity Health Check.
We have reached a pivotal point in the development of the L&D industry, where we need to make some hard decisions and critical changes if we are to remain effective. The actions we are taking at present, are often ineffective as they rarely create any lasting business impact. Right now, we are failing to show the value we possess to business leaders and lacking credibility with learners. So our approach to learning needs to adapt along with the times as we embrace the new year!
The point of learning in the workplace is to ultimately establish and develop skills within learners that help organisations to adapt and thrive. Saying that, with only 15% of L&D professionals reporting to have noticed positive changes in staff behaviour, it is clear that the extent to which learning is having an impact on subsequent actions is insufficient.1 The very nature of the L&D role is to instill new knowledge and behaviours into learners which they can apply in order to do their jobs more efficient and effectively. But at present this is lacking. So how do we ensure the behaviour of our learners change and learning is applied in practice?
Since launching our latest market insight, culture has been the most topical and provoked the more curiosity, yet, only 1 in 5 organisations manage to create a high performing learning culture today, and out of those that do, only 2 in 3 are successful in maintaining it. Although it seems only a few are able to sustain this level of success, it is definitely worth the effort, as learning cultures can result in 9x higher impact on engagement and performance.
Every day your employees face dozens of clients, managers, reports and projects competing for their attention. With 55% of workers saying they lack time to learn, it is clear heading into 2019 that we need to apply some fresh forward-thinking to recapture the attention of the learners and revive their passion for learning.
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.