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Measuring the ROI of L&D: what does success look like?

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Before you commence any L&D initiatives in your workplace, it’s a good idea to think about what your overall goal is, and decide on what success would look like to your company. Being able to measure the ROI of L&D is incredibly important, and can ensure the continuing success of any L&D initiatives you put in place.  

Having clear, measurable targets could mean the difference between members of your team being unsure on whether your L&D initiatives have been effective or not, and being able to say for sure what L&D changes have achieved, and in turn what these achievements mean for your company, in monetary terms.  

If you’re just beginning to think about what success might look like at your workplace, we’ve got a few tips to share with you.

Start with your audience 

The most important person you’ll need to convince in any L&D initiative is your boss. So, begin by putting yourself in their shoes and think about their goals and objectives. Empathy is key here, and you’ll want to really get to the bottom of your boss’s motivations and objectives.  

If you’re able to, it’s a great idea to schedule an interview with your boss to go into their business objectives in as much detail as possible. Find out what they need to achieve from a business point of view, and think about how L&D could help with this.  

This interview will also give you the opportunity to ask your boss another big question, “What else do you think I should know?” Their answers could prove incredibly insightful, so it’s a great idea to give your boss this opportunity to share their opinions with you and divulge any pain points they might be experiencing.  

Interviewing your boss on what the business hopes to achieve from L&D will also give you both the opportunity to discuss how you might be able to measure these successes more effectively going forward. The Chief Learning Officer Business Intelligence Board Measurement and Metrics Survey found that “36 percent of chief learning officers surveyed report they use business impact data to show training impact; 22 percent of the CLOs use return on investment data for the same purpose.” (1) Start the conversation and set the wheels in motion for change.  

Get to know your success metrics  

Success metrics matter. That’s why they should be at the forefront of your mind before you even begin to explore L&D initiatives for your workplace. You’ll want to think about what the goals of your company are, and those goals might be measured.  

Think about aspects such as productivity, agility, teamwork, customer service and satisfaction. The most important factor when measuring the overall ROI of L&D is the impact it has on your business. Ask yourself the following five questions:  

  1. What are the objectives of this business, long term? Can I help achieve these using L&D, and if so how can I measure whether these have been successful?  
  1. How is data related to learning being used in this company?  
  1. How are teams using tools and tech to change learning in the workplace?  
  1. Are the company’s goals supported by collaborative teamwork and the exchange of ideas?  
  1. What expectations does the company have from individuals, team leaders and L&D professionals? How are these being measured?  

Decide which metrics matter, and measure them  

To successfully measure the ROI of L&D initiatives, everyone needs to be on the same page from day one. It’s imperative that the objectives of the L&D professional and the business as a whole are aligned, and processes are put in place to measure the changes right the way through the company.  

The true goal is showing how that training has impacted the business long term, and that can only be done by tracking how changes in L&D relate to overall sales figures, profit and growth.  

We need to change the way we think about success  

There are so many things to think about when it comes to calculating the success of L&D. However, the sad fact is that for many companies, L&D success rates go unmeasured, and investments in L&D tend to decrease as a result.  

Speexx found that “28% of learning professionals consider metrics indicating employee or customer satisfaction when evaluating programs, only 20% look at employee performance, and a mere 8% consider employee retention rates.” (2) 

Metrics like these are hugely important and could well enable you to definitively say what your L&D initiatives have done for your company. Measure the ROI of your L&D initiatives and you’ll know for sure what benefits they’ve brought, and how they’ve changed your company for the better. It really is a no brainer.  

Would you like to find out what type of metric other L&D specialists use?

Fill out our survey on the L&D landscape and we’ll share with you the report and related articles of our findings: