Impact measurement – time to measure what matters


How are the majority of L&D initiatives evaluated? This is a burning question for learning professionals and it’s a topic that is explored in the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s research report Learning and Skills at Work 2020.

Here are some stats from the report, which I found in the section on learning impact. I wanted to start with the question posed was: How are the majority of L&D initiatives evaluated?

  • 30% We do not conduct any systematic evaluation of the majority of our L&D initiatives
  • 28% We evaluate the satisfaction of those who participate in our L&D initiatives
  • 16% We evaluate the change in knowledge and skills of participants who participate in our L&D initiatives
  • 12% We evaluate the behaviour change of participants, by assessing the transfer of learning into the workplace
  • 12% We evaluate the wider impact of our L&D initiatives on the organisation and/or society
  • 3% Other

Added to these findings, 16% say they produce a report but rarely act on the findings, 11% say that the data and metrics are rarely used and 17% say that they don’t know how the evidence they gather is used.

I know that most L&D teams have been in crisis mode for the past few months so impact metrics probably haven’t been a priority. However, it won’t be too long until they are again. And when they are, organisations will have even more data at their fingertips due to the fact they are now working in digital first ways.

The Covid-19 lockdown has provided L&D teams with an opportunity to reevaluate how learning works within their organisations. Metrics are an important part of this.

Measuring the learning experience is just one part of the metrics mix. If that’s your only measure then what insights do you have to share with the business? That employees did or didn’t like or engage with your resources? This has been the dominant approach to metrics for L&D teams but it doesn’t provide what the business needs.

What the business needs is to know how learning is having an impact on performance and business goals. In order for that to happen, L&D has to understand what the business is trying to achieve, or what needs improving, and it needs to work back from that. This is why people talk about the importance of alignment.

Following this approach allows learning teams to identify the best approach to solving a problem. If it is not a learning solution that’s required then you have the opportunity to say that. As a team, you can then design the appropriate solution and include measures that will demonstrate if the solution is working.

With so much data available to L&D teams, there really is no excuse not to be able to provide the insights that will support business improvement. Time to stop talking learning outcomes and start to identify the business outcomes you can help support.


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