Businesses slowly wake up to measuring the impact of learning, says CIPD 2014 learning survey

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s annual learning survey shows that the number of organisations measuring return on investment from L&D practices has increased from 26% to 48%. And, over 50% say business knowledge and commercial awareness is critical to success in L&D/OD.

Flip those stats on their head and you see the challenge facing L&D – 52% of organisations do not measure the impact of their L&D activities and half believe business knowledge and commercial awareness is critical for L&D success. Ponder that last fact for a minute.

The CIPD/ Cornerstone OnDemand Learning and Development report 2014 is an annual survey which tracks changes in workplace learning and development (L&D) practices. Amongst other findings, the report shows that fewer L&D professionals see elearning as a significant weapon in the L&D armoury. The last four years of stats would show this is an area in decline:

  • E-learning may have reached its peak, as fewer predict growth of e-learning (2014: 23%, 2013: 29%, 2012: 24%, 2011: 30%). Respondents found e-learning to have a bigger gap between use and effectiveness than any other L&D practice.
  • On the job training and in-house development programmes remain the most commonly used L&D practices and are generally considered more effective than external events and formal education courses.
  • The median annual training budget per employee is £286 (2013: £303), but this masks considerable variation within and across sectors. As in previous years, the median training budget per employee is lowest in the public sector (£238).

The report also found that more organisations are offering training to non-employee groups, most commonly students (37%) and two thirds (69%) of not-for-profits are offering training to volunteers.

Ruth Stuart, L&D Adviser at the CIPD, and author of the report, said: “The fast-paced changing nature of the world of work and the economic squeeze has led many organisations to better analyse the impact their learning and development strategy is having on business success. What’s good for people is good for business and organisations are starting to wake up and realise that by measuring the success of L&D. Perhaps the upturn in the economy has reduced the urgency to drive large scale cost-saving changes. Instead it’s put greater emphasis on businesses ensuring the efficient use of their L&D resources and planning a sustainable future through integrating L&D with business strategy and evaluating outcomes.

“We’ve also seen an increase in the number of organisations paying attention to neuroscience, reflecting a need to ensure L&D initiatives are based on evidence of what really works and using metrics to inform this. This is a positive move and it will be interesting to measure trends in years to come too.”

The report also showed that learning and development processes and systems could be better integrated with other aspects of HR management, such as recruitment, performance management and reward. Nearly two thirds of organisations (64%) believe that learning and development processes are integrated into other aspects of HR management, but there is still room for improvement, particularly in the private sector.

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