The learning disconnect: Only 8% of CEOs see L&D business impact
Corporate L&D pros struggle to demonstrate ROI to leadership
This feature is part of a series focused exclusively on learning technology. To view other posts in the series, check out the spotlight page.
Learning and design professionals are considered to be among the most valuable members of any corporate team. Not only are they tasked with delivering employee training that is relevant and effective — they have to do so with cramped timelines and limited resources.
The learning market has been in a period of rapid growth for the last few years, but as this trend reaches its peak, will learning and design pros begin to start feeling additional scrutiny from corporate leaders?
LinkedIn's first annual Workplace Learning Report, published this week, found that Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) face increased pressure to deliver learning that engages employees and positively impacts the bottom line. Companies are looking for proof that their investment is paying off in terms of increased workforce performance.
The report also shows that 90% of business leaders believe learning and design programs are key to closing skill gaps. However, only 8% of CEOs in the report said they saw the business impact of L&D programs. Even fewer (4%) saw a clear ROI.
Where is the disconnect?
Perhaps it’s not that learning and design professionals don't have the tools to prove their worth. It’s more about the evolution of internal corporate learning programs, and how L&D are viewed by both leaders and employees.
The LinkedIn report showed that only around 60% of learning and design pros have any real say in their companies (invited to the C-suite on a regular basis, in other words). The rest are simply reacting to the demands of upper management.
On the other side, employees often view corporate learning as a mandatory, negative experience. 46% of learning and design pros say they find it difficult getting employees to engage in corporate learning. Perhaps this is because the survey shows that 78% of learning and design teams still rely on traditional, instructor-led classroom training. That way of getting things done is quickly losing its appeal.
What's left of L&D programs generally amounts to employees training on their own devices — which makes it impossible to measure ROI. Some 47% of employees say they actively participate in learning outside of work hours because they find on-demand content more appealing and helpful. Other studies have shown that gamification is the future; gamification takes advantage of four critical areas of information trends including social networking, mobile device use, big data and wearable computing devices.
The LinkedIn report showed that 7 in 10 organizations had implemented video learning as a main component to replace classroom learning, indicating a clear shift. What’s most compelling about the LinkedIn survey is that a vast majority of L&D leaders do not believe they’ve cracked the code of corporate training because every organization tends to do things differently.
There is no set standard for doing things, and this can be highly frustrating for those who create learning content that’s expected to produce results. Less than a quarter of the L&D pros interviewed by LinkedIn said they would even recommend their own corporate learning program to peers.
How can learning and design teams measure their worth to corporate leaders?
In the learning market, there are three criteria used to evaluate the results of any course or program. These include:
- The likability of the training, from the view of employees
- The actual number of employees completing the training
- The extent to which employees have met professional objectives
On the corporate learning level, costs to develop and produce the training must be factored against these criteria. Once the training takes place, evaluations and assessments can be used to place a number on the first two criteria.
The performance of trained employees can be measured before and after they’ve completed training. Naturally, employee feedback can greatly improve the effectiveness of training content over time.
These measurements aren't necessarily perfect, but if more learning and design professionals took the time to use analytics to put a value on the training they produce, they could present simple, digestible ROI to their peers.
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