Towards Maturity Research

Learning Impact Improves When L&D Work with Business

London (UK), June 2016 - A report by Towards Maturity and sponsored by LEO shows that L&D leaders are more able to demonstrate the value of learning when they work together with business leaders to solve performance problems. The document excplains that only 31% of L&D leaders work up front with business leaders to identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that they want to improve.

However, those that do are more likely to report on the business impact of learning and work collaboratively with business stakeholders throughout the learning process in order to improve performance.

Compared to their peers, those that work to identify KPIs with business leaders up front are

  • three times more likely to agree that line managers actively support learning back in the workplace and provide evidence on the extent to which learning has been applied
  • four times more likely to measure KPIs when evaluating impact.

The report, Making an Impact: How L&D Leaders Can Demonstrate Value, draws on the 2015 Towards Maturity BenchmarkTM research with more than 600 L&D leaders. It shows that nine in ten L&D leaders say they want to positively impact the bottom line in their organisation. In particular, they want to provide a faster response to changing business conditions, increase on-the-job productivity, and improve customer satisfaction.

However, L&D is struggling to quantify some of the basic indicators of success. Despite the fact that 96% of learning leaders are looking to technology to improve the way they gather and analyse data on learning impact, only 17% are doing it - down from 26% in 2010. Another 24% know how long it takes for learners to become competent in their job roles, and just 17% know the opportunity costs about the different ways that staff learn.

Top Deck organisations (the highest-performing organisations in the top 10% of the Towards Maturity Index) are much more likely to be measuring efficiency and impact, with 71% measuring training efficiency, 44% measuring staff-impact indicators, and 39% measuring business-impact indicators.

Commenting on the findings, Towards Maturity Founder and CEO, Laura Overton, said, "Delivering impact is central to L&D thinking. The understanding of the need to link learning to business goals has increased year on year since we started our benchmark in 2003. But this research shows that L&D leaders must look beyond traditional L&D measures of pure ROI in order to demonstrate value. True learning impact comes from authentic collaborations between learning and business leaders as they work together to achieve common goals."

The ability to collaborate in the gathering of evidence is critical to demonstrating the value of L&D. Organisations that are measuring impact report a range of benefits, with 44% seeing improved organisational performance, 53% providing a faster response to changing business conditions, and 78% improving the quality of the learning experience they deliver.

Piers Lea, Chief Strategy Officer of LEO, added, "LEO believes that demonstrating the business impact of learning is now reaching a critical point for L&D teams. Learning effectiveness is one of the last unmeasured areas of business spend, and this is becoming unacceptable. By measuring better, we know we can save huge amount of money for our clients and drive significant further investment into what does work. It's clear from this research that organisations that are using technology to measure improvements are also performing so much better than those that do not, with some reporting threefold improvements. Now we need to inspire L&D leaders to believe in the importance and power of big data in order to develop a strategy around this insight and build it into their processes."

The report explores new measures of learning impact, how employees want to learn, how top performing organisations are demonstrating impact, and why it is imperative for L&D to act now.