How to Measure the Success of Your L&D Program
How to Measure the Success of Your L&D Program

How to Measure the Success of Your L&D Program

Leadership Development, Company Culture, Diversity Equity & Inclusion, Employee Well-being   — 4 MIN


With recent studies revealing that one of the top reasons employees leave an organization is a lack of development and advancement opportunities, a robust learning and development (L&D) program is critical to recruiting and retaining top talent. 

How can you measure L&D’s effectiveness?

Traditionally, the Kirkpatrick Model is the standard approach to measuring learning effectiveness. The model outlines four levels in the process: 

  1. Reaction
    This stage solicits feedback after a learning session or course. The questions gauge if learners felt the learning was beneficial, appealing, and relevant. This feedback should help shape future learning events and make improvements. 
  2. Learning
    This stage analyzes how much of the learning was retained and gained by participants. This data helps determine if training goals meet expectations through pre- and/or post-assessments.
  3. Behavior
    This level determines if learner behavior has changed after experiencing the learning. Although this is a good metric to track, there can be variations in its effectiveness based on individual differences in engagement and commitment to changing behaviors—evaluations at this stage compare pre- and post-learning assessments.
  4. Results
    This level measures the tangible benefits of the learning, such as enhanced productivity, employee retention, and improved company culture. This step is critical for L&D teams to analyze as it is the only way to gauge the effectiveness of the learning initiative. Conducting a thorough review at this stage helps create a business case for investing in L&D as part of the overall company strategic plan. 

An additional measure for organizations to consider is the relationship between their return on investment (ROI) and return on expectations (ROE). ROI is the ratio of revenue gained or lost on an investment compared to the amount initially invested. ROE has emerged as a more well-rounded value as it measures L&D’s impact as a factor of business success vs. the end-all-be-all. Incorporating ROE as part of training analysis helps set clear expectations and curate the learning program to better align with company goals. 

How do you build an employee-centric learning program?

Organizations are facing an unprecedented number of challenges to retaining their top talent. With 65% of employees that leave a job changing industries or not returning to the workforce, there is no question that organizations must adapt. What can organizations do to remain employers of choice? Josh Bersin’s concept of “Growth in the Flow of Work” emphasizes relevance and growth as primary factors for learning program success. This concept also places learning as the connection between professional development, personal growth, talent pipelines, and improving company culture.

HBR provides a few tactics to embed learning into employees’ workflow and provide measurable outcomes to support your ROI and ROE:

  • Make learning relevant.
    Remember being in your high school math class and thinking, “When am I going to use this in real life?” The same goes for L&D programs–learning must connect to organizational values and be actionable for employees to maximize retention. In addition to connecting with something tangible, lessons should also be customizable. For example, the modality and course length that works for a corporate office manager don’t necessarily translate well for a frontline manufacturing worker.
  • Incorporate nudges.
    Nudges remind us to go to the store or stand up after sitting for too long, and they also help L&D professionals to boost engagement. Learning nudges can take the form of email or instant message notifications. Nudges from channels that employees already access make it less intrusive. Well-designed nudges are concise and actionable with quick access to the lesson.
  • Utilize microlearning.
    Microlearning has been part of the L&D landscape for a while and for a good reason. Microlearning helps minimize the impacts of the forgetting curve, allowing learners to retain and apply knowledge quicker than traditional methods. For example, Blue Ocean Brain’s award-winning microlearning solution provides just-in-time content around topics that matter to today’s workplace, such as DEI, leadership development, and emotional intelligence.
  • Analyze success.
    Measuring learners’ progress and engagement is a critical component of evaluating the overall success of your program. As you design your L&D strategy, ensure that key performance indicators (KPIs) are defined and learner data reviewed. Solicit feedback from various levels of engagement and roles within the company to accurately assess what is working and what isn’t. Organizations committed to upskilling and growing their people recognize that L&D is an ongoing effort that takes continual maintenance to maximize the return.

How do you create a learning culture?

The pandemic has impacted the workplace in numerous ways, including shifts in company culture. From remote/hybrid work to an increased focus on actionable DEI strategies, employees need more from their employers than a paycheck and benefits. A recent study from Tandym found that 86% of professionals are open to new opportunities, and almost 50% do not think their company is helping them gain skills for the future.

People want to work for employers with a growth mindset that provides resources for professional development and advancement opportunities. Damian Scalerandi, SVP at BairesDev, provides some insight into how to create a learning culture within your organization:

  • Expand your learning program across all levels of the company.
    Creating a company-wide learning culture requires buy-in, starting at the top. Ensure that your executives and senior leadership are on board and that your learning content is inclusive by including topics relevant to each career stage.
  • Set organizational and individual learning goals.
    As discussed above, initiatives need metrics to measure their effectiveness. Individual goals can help hold learners accountable and make them feel more connected to learning. For example, tying lessons to performance objectives helps prepare employees for the next level.
  • Recruit internal L&D champions. 
    L&D departments must walk the walk to instill a sense of trust and transparency across the company. Promoting the program and highlighting its benefits through your actions helps get employees excited about the learning and more motivated to join in.
  • Provide feedback.
    Learning is an ongoing journey, and effective feedback is critical to maintaining interest. Empower managers to analyze their employees’ metrics and provide them training on skills like inclusive feedback to ensure they are effectively communicating with their team.
  • Reward engagement. 
    Knowing that it is nearly impossible to achieve 100% participation for any company initiative, it is critical to notice and recognize employees that consistently engage with and implement the learning. Consider utilizing tactics such as leaderboards, gamification, and prizes to encourage everyone to participate. 

An impactful L&D program is a component of the overall employee experience. For example, 47% of workers in a Prudential study said they value soft skill learning more than subject matter expertise. Respondents ranked adaptability, problem-solving, and time management as the most important. The research speaks for itself—successful L&D programs boost ROI and ROE; ensure your organization invests accordingly.

For more information on how Blue Ocean Brain’s microlearning solution can upskill your people, click here to schedule a consultation with one of our learning experts.