This month we have been looking at L&D and HR metrics.

A People Management article (How best to measure the value of L&D?) suggests metrics is “about L&D developing a stronger connection to the business so that it becomes confident of the function’s value.” – Kevin Young, SkillSoft.  He explains that one of the key and consistent elements of success that we see is aligning L&D programmes to required business outcomes, such as customer satisfaction, reduction in failure rates and the like.  He adds that too many people still focus on L&D metrics such as how many employees took a certain course and what they thought of it, which is “useful to increase the efficiency of the function, but meaningless to senior executives”.

According to an article in the HR Technologist (4 Learning and Development Metrics That Measure the Success of Your L&D Program), analytics is the first step towards getting visibility into the metrics you want to measure.  In the context of L&D, analytics takes the vast data sets available in your learning management system (LMS) and applies a layer of analysis and visualization to highlight key metrics. This could include: 

  • Which training sessions have been completed 
  • Which teams have completed a specific course
  • How employees consume different types of L&D content 
  • Courses that have been taken more than once

They suggested that in addition to standard analytics data such as course completion rates and pace of competition, there could be other vital areas that are being ignored. They suggest four learning metrics, directly linked to the impact of your L&D program.

  1. The cold hard cost of training your employees. Did you know that per-employee training investment is a clear marker of your past programme’s efficacy? Organisations often tend to train the same employees for the same skills sets. Unless your workplace is witnessing sweeping changes, the cost of L&D per employee should remain stable. It is not advisable to blindly invest simply because you have detected a skills gap. If you have provided the same training before, this could mean that the solution isn’t working as expected. Make costs are a vital component in your L&D analytics dashboard, taking stock of changing spending patterns every month, and realigning your L&D modules accordingly. 
  2. A rise – or dip – in operational efficiency. This holds true specifically for production-orientated or high-volume businesses. Your learners should be able to handle higher throughput at work, manage larger volumes within the same time. That’s why this learning metric is intertwined with performance management. Data gathered from performance management systems will indicate how well a leaner can apply their newly acquired skill sets in the workplace. Conversely, if the learning program is ineffective or irrelevant to the employee’s daily work schedule, you could even notice a dip in efficiency levels. The learner is distracted from their workday, redirected to training in areas that are not relevant to their role. It is essential to nip such instances in the bud, and promptly channel the employee in a different direction.
  3. Progress for both the company and employee – L&D isn’t just meant to benefit your organisation. The employee should be able to gain a meaningful advantage from undertaking the L&D course. Look for an acceleration in their career progression pathway, movement into cross-functional roles, and an increase in compensation. HR practitioners often ignore this aspect of L&D, considering their job to be over once employees have been certified.   But that’s not really the case. It’s only when an employee is able to take their learnings and convert it into a personal value-addition that the learning can be deemed useful.   The same idea is also applicable at the organisational level. For the dollars that you invest during a particular period in L&D, you should be able to witness a corresponding jump in revenue. Remember, this won’t always be in the form of a rising bottom line. Future-readiness, more effortless transformation, and scalability into new areas are also indirect contributors to your revenue.
  4. Your learner’s feedback on the instructor  – Ask your employees to regularly evaluate their instructors as well as the software they are using. This learning metric will indicate how satisfied your learners are with the L&D experience. It’s important to note that learning in the workplace should be fun and engaging – not just another responsibility on a person’s work schedule. That’s why methodologies like gamification in learning are becoming so popular, reinventing the learning process with clear incentives and drivers. Leverage pulse surveys after every L&D track to understand if such interventions are necessary. 

Qlik published a white paper (3 Steps to a Stronger KPI Strategy) the covers how important it is for every business leader to understand strategic KPI (Key Performance Indicators) metrics that measure against objectives and goals.  They suggest that today the vast majority of enterprises rely on KPIs to track progress and guide decisions. They also suggest you can have KPI overload – when your reporting isn’t paying off:

  • People are capturing metrics but can’t say why
  • KPIs are soured into reports but only a few get attention
  • When KPIs do get discussed, they rarely lead to changes in strategic direction

Therefore the white paper states that the three secrets of smarter KPI’s is:

  • Choosing the right KPIs – lagging versus leading indicators
  • Create a KPI driven culture – boost data literacy across all your teams
  • Establish a process of KPI iteration – report, evolve and refine you KPIs on a schedule

Not all metrics are created equally and you need to understand the difference between lagging and leading indicators, where to use each, and why you should monitor both.

  • Lagging indicators capture an output – i.e. sales in recent quarter
  • Leading indicators capture an input – i.e. a drop in website visitors will predict a drop in sales

It is suggested you use your leading indicators to impact your lagging ones:

RoleSenior-level executives  Business units
Strategic goalCapture high-level insights.   Most executives are focuses on tracking progress towards the big picture – and using the number to drive calls-to-action.  Shape strategy and develop tactics.   Business units, project leads, and teams should focus on leading KPIs – the things they can change to deliver results  
Lagging or leading?Lagging:   Choose metrics that capture progress toward the company goals.   Make sure they’re appropriate for your industry and stage of growth.Leading:   Identify which indicators make the biggest impact on your lagging indicators.   Test your assumptions with data; track impact over a period of time.

In my role I do look at HR metrics such as those below :

But within L&D we are still working out what to measure?

Having data and metrics helps organisations prioritise learning needs across the whole business such as improving sales, improving performance, succession planning and other trends.  Without the data they would be wasting time and money training in less important areas that have a low impact on efficiency and increased profits.

Hopefully moving forward the metrics will show the return on investment as well employee engagement and improved business performance. We are just at the beginning of this journey with a long road ahead but it is exciting so start the see dreams coming to fruition.

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