How do you measure the success of your learning and development (L&D) programs? The metrics you track and report are likely to impact the funding and resources you receive in the future, not to mention the support you get from company leadership.

The problem? Many commonly measured learning metrics don’t tie directly into business outcomes. While they might matter to L&D professionals, they’re not connected to the types of numbers executives care about. Let’s look at a few typical ways L&D programs are measured and consider a more impactful approach.

Use caution with these common learning metrics

There’s a reason why L&D professionals often rely on the metrics we’re outlining in this section — they tend to be the easiest or most readily available. And this doesn’t mean that these metrics should be ignored. It’s just important to exercise some caution. 

Completion rates

It can be tempting to measure completion rates or the number of employees who finish a given training program. This makes sense for certain types of training, like compliance. But it’s not always the most useful metric. The just-in-time nature of learning today means that plenty of employees might engage with only the relevant parts of training without completing it. Simply measuring completion rates leaves out those who are learning and developing critical skills without officially completing a course. 

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Employee satisfaction scores

Asking your employees to rate training or learning experiences will give you insight into their feelings — also called “reaction” or Level 1 on the Kirkpatrick Model which is often used to measure training. But again, this is not a complete picture. It won’t help you assess what they’ve learned, how they’ve changed their behavior as a result, or how this has impacted their work.  

Learning platform engagement or learning program adoption rates

Learning platform engagement or learning program adoption rates allow you to measure the health of your learning program. These metrics can serve as effective learner outcomes and provide a window into your learning program’s overall health. Still, they don’t necessarily indicate that the program is driving towards a specific business outcome. 

More impactful metrics to consider

If your goal is to measure the impact of your programs — and get executive support — it’s important to make the connection between learning outcomes and business outcomes. This approach is key to making learning a strategic function at your company. 

So what exactly are business outcomes? They track the measurable impact on the business learning has helped achieve. And they’re often connected (either directly or indirectly) to helping your company make or save money. 

Here are the five most common business outcomes connected to learning programs: 

Discover how to connect learning to business outcomes 

You now have an idea of why typical learning metrics fall short and have a list of more impactful metrics to measure instead. But how do you get from Point A to Point B? If you’re not sure how to connect your learning programs to the business outcomes we’ve outlined here, download our ebook, Build a Learning Strategy That Delivers Business Outcomes.