Measuring the benefits of your communication and learning & development strategy

by | Dec 4, 2018 | Articles, Featured, General, Resources

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: 

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.  

 

References  

1 https://www.td.org/research-reports/evaluating-learning   

2 https://towardsmaturity.org/2016/06/13/focus-making-impact-demonstrate-value/  

 

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. 

 

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