How To Measure The Impact Of Training Newly Distributed Workforces

How To Measure The Impact Of Employee Learning
Summary: Today, it is critical to focus on the ROI of talent development initiatives. How are your efforts paying off? Are employees gaining the critical skills they need to excel in their jobs? Employee proficiency, as well as productivity, are among the key metrics on which to concentrate.

Ensure That All Initiatives Make A Difference

Understanding how value is delivered from any learning and development program is key. Was the program worth it? Can learning and development be linked to the growth of an employee? Focusing on ROI is particularly important today, as, with the rise of newly remote and distributed teams, many companies have made the switch from classroom-based learning to an online and virtual environment.

LinkedIn Learning’s Workplace Learning Report 2021 [1] found that to measure the impact of learning, many learning and development (L&D) professionals turn to quantitative feedback from employees, and from those that consistently engage with the learning content. Few, however, focus on harder metrics, such as increases in employee retention, revenue, or productivity. Looking at metrics such as the completion rates of courses is important, but if a training leader stops there, they are missing a valuable opportunity to evaluate the overall impacts of these initiatives on business KPIs.

Today’s training leaders need to be driven by the company's KPIs, as well as short- and long-term goals and values. Based on years of working with organizations to create learning and enablement experiences, Rallyware has identified several strategies to evaluate training ROI. When examining the impact of learning initiatives at your organization, here are a few elements at which to look.

When Creating Learning Programs For Employees, Look At The Entire Ecosystem

It is crucial to focus on the learners themselves, but what about other involved parties? "With any product or service solution, the primary measure is the improvement of performance by the learner...we are also measuring the impact on the customer, not just the stakeholder," noted Joe Dunlap, Director of learning and development at Toppers Pizza, Inc., in a recent interview with Rallyware. Consider: What are the goals of the L&D initiative and the various impacts that it is designed to have?

Marela Klepo, learning and development manager at Amazon, also emphasized concentrating on the customer experience. "When we look at a business problem, such as how to train our leaders or our workforce, we first ask ourselves who is our customer, why is this important to them and how are our training programs and the ways in which we implement them going to add value to them," she said.

Focus On Driving Proficiency And Performance

"Effective learning strategies through a blended approach and microlearning engage learners in real time and have a measurable impact on behavior change and, ultimately, business outcomes, which is ROI in the true sense," Arpitha Shirivanthe, learning, and development specialist at Sanofi Pasteur, explained [2] to Rallyware. When it comes to measuring ROI, proficiency matters, as it helps in assessing and identifying the knowledge/skills gaps of employees. "The faster organizations can improve proficiency and accelerate behavioral competencies, the more they can drive performance and prove the ROI of their L&D programs," she said.

So, how do we boost proficiency? First, it is important to dedicate time to uncovering the skills, preferences, and learning styles of the members of your workforce, understand their goals, what motivates and drives them to succeed. Having these insights is critical to provide them with the ideal, personalized learning opportunities.

Personalized learning based on user preferences is an excellent way to engage individuals in learning and to retain learners. Yet, the key is connecting learning and performance data. This way, learning is delivered just at the time when an employee is in need (for instance, when a little bit of assistance is required in order to boost performance or new learning opportunities are available for continuous growth).

Based on the live performance data of each individual, as well as all the overall workforce at large, this is where people analytics [3] can help to identify potential gaps in knowledge or areas where upskilling or reskilling will be required. Are there any gaps within the internal talent pool of an organization? Where do any weaknesses lie? Then, design learning content accordingly and deliver it automatically just when it’s needed most.

In one example [4] highlighted in a recent Harvard Business Review article, a team of analysts at a large insurance company learned how to use new tools, such as Python, in an advanced data analysis course. After participating in this course, many team members found that this programming language helped them become more efficient, with one participant describing how she was able to perform a routine task in only five minutes, while this task previously took her a full hour to complete. Senior leaders within this company likely identified a need for technical skills and developed a program to cater to this need.

Hone In On Moments Of Enablement

Yet, how can we make sure that members of the workforce act on and apply these learnings? Simply offering learning opportunities is not enough on its own; it is the combination of learning plus performance improvement tools, with a focus on driving performance [5].

In the industry, we are seeing research and evidence [6] pointing toward the benefits of smaller learning moments that occur within the day-to-day learning opportunities that happen while on the job.

However, such opportunities may be more difficult to convene in the predominantly remote and distributed work environment of today. So, finding ways of providing employees with such opportunities is critical. A prime example of this is through smart notifications that deliver key business activities at just the right time to reinforce what was learned before. Urging individuals to perform specific tasks at specific times that are in line with their goals and the company’s KPIs, this powerful tool incrementally drives workforce productivity.

I’ll provide an example. Let’s say that, as a new account manager, Jose has learned the basics and best practices of lead generation and nurturing leads. He is then tasked with developing his own original lead sequence. He receives smart notifications on a regular basis, nudges to keep up and follow up with prospects, giving him the chance to apply these learnings in his day-to-day work, and practice what he has learned.

Upon working with many training leaders and enterprise CLOs, Rallyware has derived a way of quantifying learning ROI with high precision, helping them to identify the impact from each initiative, such as that described in the example above. By integrating with internal systems, we measure the change in performance of an individual employee, both before and after training, as well as the scalable effect of a given initiative. At the same time, a continuous assessment of KPIs allows for live monitoring of the impact that learning initiatives have on workforce productivity, to quickly react if any changes to current programs are needed.

Measuring the impact of each learning initiative is important today, to make sure that your workforce onboarding, engagement, reskilling, and upskilling efforts are paying off in the long run.


[1] Workplace Learning Report

[2] How L&D Leaders Calculate the ROI of Employee Learning and Development Initiatives

[3] 94% of Employees Wouldn’t Quit if the Employee Learning Opportunities Were Right

[4] Make Sure Your Company’s Reskilling Efforts Pay Off

[5] AI-Driven Enablement Tech is Behind the Recent Growth in Remote Workforce Productivity

[6] A Better Way to Develop and Retain Top Talent