ROI Proves to be an Elusive Metric for Learning Programs

Give and Take ROI

Employers struggle to consistently measure employee training benefits and calculate resulting productivity gains, according to a survey from the learning company D2L in partnership with Training Industry. Indeed, only 33% of the organizations polled explicitly measure the impact employee learning and development has on their financial outcomes. Nearly half, 46%, found that demonstrating the ROI from training is a challenge.

In addition, 41% said sustaining the impact of training was an issue, while the same proportion were concerned about ensuring training content is relevant.

Meanwhile, 75% of respondents said they’re seeking better metrics to be a part of their future employee learning strategies. Respondents said they struggle most to consistently measure employee training program benefits, and to calculate resulting productivity gains. There was little agreement across industry representatives on a clear definition of ROI for employee training.

“The results of this survey are revealing in that they show how difficult organizations find it to quantify the benefits of employee training,” said D2L Senior Vice President of Wave Sasha Thackaberry. “The key to helping make this easier is to establish clear metrics and delineate closely the skills needed for success.”  

Metrics That Matter

The survey also found that while over 50% of organizations are capturing some form of learning metrics, they only measure learner reactions or skill acquisition, as opposed to learning’s impact on business or financial outcomes. Still, 61% reported that their learning programs are typically effective.

According to D2L, measurement comes down to how effectiveness is defined for training strategy. “[W]ithout a sense of what the organization is getting for its investments across all learning programs, there’s no way to gauge whether these programs are comparably strong,” the company said.

As such, D2L recommended consistently measuring program benefits, understanding variable costs and calculating productivity and efficiency gains to assess ROI.

Image: iStock

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