Today, organizations are more responsive, efficient, people-centric, data-driven, inclusive, and diverse than ever before, but the eruption of Covid-19 has further accelerated what was already a changing paradigm in management philosophy. 

The World Economic Forum’s October 2020 report states that 85 million jobs will be displaced, and 97 million new ones will be created by 2025. Organizations have a lot of upskilling and re-skilling to do and Learning and Development has become an increasingly prominent area of focus. 

Industry analyst, Josh Bersin, in his 2021 presentation, Untangling the HR Technology Market, refers to the ‘big reset in HR’ and the resulting changes in operating models, spurred on by a speedy increase in distributed working practices in response to the pandemic. This reset has marked a shift from a trend of centrally controlled, process driven organizations, towards more adaptive models favouring distributed control with centralized coordination. The difference is that the second of these is more agile and, therefore, more resilient, enabling organizations to better weather disruptions. 

Gartner’s report on the big tech trends for 2021, highlights people-centricity as an important influencing theme in technology design and deployment.  Agile business models often introduce more complexity because they involve things like distributed networks, public cloud, blended workforce and digital workplace. So how do you keep all your stakeholders engaged in learning and how do you know that your chosen learning strategy is working? 

The answer, of course, is measurement. However, the days are gone when employees attended training sessions and away days where you could witness first-hand how engaged they were with the learning and the work. So how valuable is this information and is there a way of gauging it’s value in a digital environment? Reporting functionality is becoming increasingly sophisticated, with learning managers able to gather vast swathes of data on the behaviours of learners, but what are the metrics that demonstrate the impact your learning strategy is having on engagement and retention and what is the real value that learning brings to your organization?

What to measure and how to measure it 

Linkedin’s 2021 report on Skill Building in the New World of Work, notes a surge in the use of survey tools in the past year. A significant climb to 27% of professional L&D respondents globally, say they are now using employee survey tools to measure learning program effectiveness, with a number as high as 43% in the UK. Survey tools and quizzes help learners retain knowledge and generate measurable data on learning experiences, but these aren’t the only sources of valuable data.

Employee retention rates are a key metric. Have they risen, dropped, or remained static? Another is to look at the number of new skills that individual employees are accruing. The two metrics are ostensibly linked. If an employee is learning new and useful things, they are likely to stick around longer. 

You can only upskill people effectively if they are engaged in the first place and to do this, we have a new generation of learning platforms that help us put people at the centre of learning. It’s not just about the tech though, it’s also about adaptive learning models such as Learning in the Flow of Work, self-directed and micro-learning, and personalized learning pathways. People-centric learning programs facilitate behaviors that come easily to learners, because they are familiar, and help them retain learning by making it relevant.  

Learning and Development often measures course completion numbers, minutes spent learning, repeat visits. These stats tell us how a learning platform is being used, but not how much is being retained, the extent to which productivity has increased, or how effectively skills gaps are being filled. 

How to get the best feedback 

In today’s digital-first environment, we do not have the luxury of being able to read body language and gather anecdotal feedback from groups of learners in physical training rooms, so how can we assess that they are truly enjoying learning and getting what they need from the content? Gathering feedback on the intangible sense of excitement in learners is difficult to emulate in a digital scenario, but this qualitative feedback is arguably as important as the quantitative stuff.

To take both aspects into account, you need a learning tool able to track employee interaction, comments and sharing, as well as the numbers of return learners, courses completed, and minutes spent learning. A learning management system that integrates the ability for users to share experiences and anecdotes – social media style, and set up chats around specific topics, allows you to track different types of feedback. The data gathered from these interactions builds on employee satisfaction scores generated by surveys and offers a more complete picture of their learning experiences, so you know what’s working and what needs improvement. Providing opportunities for employees to get excited about new topics and challenges together, is a galvanizing force and bolsters competitive edge. 

So, whilst there is no one-size-fits all guide as to what metrics to focus on, to truly understand the impact of your learning strategies, the more data the merrier – the qualitative and the quantitative. 

A learning system that operates in a familiar way, tapping into existing behavioural modes based on social sharing and reciprocity, helps people to learn, retain and upskill, and organizations to measure, improve and adapt. 

Talk to our experts!

If you want to know more about measuring the impact of your learning programs and an LMS that can support you to do this well, get in touch with our experts now.