The Journey to Understanding the ROI of Learning
HR, L&D, and People leaders are increasingly expected to show the value of their work and how it impacts the business. Yet only 33% of business leaders think the L&D function impacts business outcomes, and fewer consider the function to be relevant or timely, according to the CEB.
Many learning initiatives are shifting online as part of the larger digital transformation of the workplace, which can make it complex to understand the ROI of learning. The challenge though is not in the complexity, it’s that the ROI of learning has been poorly defined. If you ask any HR, L&D, or People leader what the ROI of learning is, you’ll hear something different from every person.
We wanted to address this head-on at Udemy for Business. That’s why we’ve put together a simple, comprehensive ROI of learning framework that we’re excited to share with you so that you can begin (or continue) your ROI of learning journey and make the business case for learning.
Let’s take a brief walk through history and look at the Kirkpatrick model of training evaluation.
L&D leaders often have measured the impact of their training programs using the well-known Kirkpatrick Model, which involves four levels of evaluation: Reaction, Learning, Behavior Change, and Results.
The challenge with this model is that it often leads us to focus on level 1 (Were they satisfied with the training?) and level 2 (Did they learn the material?) metrics. Proving behavior change occurred (level 3) and whether the training resulted in achieving the key business result (level 4) is much more challenging.
While the Kirkpatrick model has many benefits, the ROI of learning framework we’ve created looks at learning measurement through a different lens. The framework we’ve created addresses four key elements that are critical to making the business case for learning.
The 4 elements of the ROI of learning framework
The four elements are:
- Cost savings – Learning is shifting online more than ever and with this digital shift of learning, we need to understand our spend and costs. What are you spending on learning in-person versus online? What are you spending on? Where and how can you save?
- Productivity improvements – How are your training and learning programs impacting employee productivity and performance? Are they impacting productivity—why or why not?
- Employee engagement – Are your training programs engaging employees more or less? Are people happier? Have you noticed any difference in employee engagemenet and retention numbers?
- Internal buy-in – Have you gotten the right amount of internal support for your initiatives? Do you know who your biggest stakeholders are—your biggest supporters and naysayers? How do you get the people around you to support your employee development programs?
Over the next several months, we’re planning to launch a series of ROI of learning tools and resources that support the four elements of this framework. Our goal is to help you use this framework to better understand and demonstrate the ROI of learning at your organization, so that you can make a strong business case for learning.
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