April 22, 2024

Maximising return on learning investments for business & talent success, ETHRWorldME

With the increasing emphasis on future-proofing skills, particularly in the era of widespread AI adoption, individuals prioritise a shared responsibility for training and development between themselves and their employers. According to a Randstad survey, 72% of respondents express a persistent commitment to training and development in their current and future career paths, with 29% indicating a willingness to leave a job lacking sufficient learning opportunities. Additionally, 36% of employees state their reluctance to accept a job that doesn’t provide suitable learning and development prospects.As employers actively work to cultivate a forward-thinking talent pipeline, it becomes imperative for them to make substantial investments in talent development and retention. According to BCG, 75% of companies are planning noteworthy talent development initiatives. However, despite numerous attempts spanning decades, organisations are still grappling with the challenge of effectively measuring the impact of their programs.

Explore the BCG-listed ROLI (Return on Learning Investment) approach which aims at strategically aligning learning initiatives to business objectives, providing a tangible framework for the C-suite and other leaders to assess the effectiveness of upskilling interventions.

1. Identify the target business impact

Identifying the target business impact is essential for organisations or specific business sectors when implementing upskilling initiatives. Prior to initiating any training program, companies should define the desired business outcomes against which they will measure progress upon completion of the program. This involves determining specific business objectives, such as keeping pace with the swift digital transitions, facilitating the adoption of AI use cases, transforming the capabilities of the frontline field force, enhancing customer satisfaction, or retaining talent. The overarching goal is to assess whether these initiatives will enhance employee productivity and motivation, fostering alignment with the broader vision and goals of the business.2. Define metrics and milestones

The next step is to define the time-bound metrics that they will use to see the desirable impact. Some of the metrics by BCG that will best capture the targeted end result are:

  • Business performance – Revenue growth, profit growth, market share gains, NPS/customer satisfaction
  • Productivity – Growth in sales per employee, increase in the nume of calls per associate, reduced customer churn etc
  • Speed to mastery – Reduced number of days required for onboarding, faster speed to certification, accelerated process and tool adoption rates
  • Retention – Savings on recruitment salaries and fees, savings related to culture impact from effective leadership development, savings on severance payments
  • Interim signals – Enrollment and reenrollment rates, completion rates and skills assessment

3. Determine whether the impact has been achieved

The third step is to assess the impact of the upskilling programme and whether it has achieved the targeted impact. It is important to note that not every programme needs a rigorous testing or a data driven approach, some results can be simply met with a simple employee survey. Therefore, it is important to analyse the nature of the upskilling initiative before assessing its impact and value.The expectations of the business leaders in meeting the standard expectations will also play a critical role in assessing the impact of the upskilling initiatives. Some leaders called true believers are mostly convinced that investment in a particular upskilling initiative has an impact and are satisfied with the qualitative evidence whereas other leaders known as ‘analytical investors’ are more skeptical and will only commit to proceed with clarity and unambiguous proof. And then there are impact seekers who are aware of the shortcomings and are open to using a blended approach to assessing the impact.How to get the most out of your strategic learning investments

Focus on actual implementation – not everything can be measured

It is crucial to understand that we cannot measure everything. Certain upskilling programmes, like leadership development initiatives aimed at fostering a learning culture, may be challenging to quantify. In such cases, organisations might risk spending more time on measurement than on the actual implementation of these programmes.

Make it a team exercise!

Assessing business impact cannot occur in isolation. Understand that evaluating the impact of learning initiatives requires collective efforts, with teams collaborating across the entire programme lifecycle, starting from defining the intended business impact to evaluating the outcomes. Even with clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), establishing a direct connection from the intervention to the associated business outcomes can be challenging.

Maintain a realistic outlook on timelines

While there is a common desire for upskilling programs to showcase immediate impact, the reality is that tangible improvements might not become apparent until the review of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) at year-end or beyond. Assess the long-term impact of the learning programs, especially if the goals involve cultural change, leadership development, or strategic skill-building. Having well-defined KPIs and a specified completion date can significantly contribute to the program’s effectiveness.

Make it an iterative exercise

Treat the ROI analysis as an iterative process. Learn from each programme’s analysis and apply those learnings to enhance the effectiveness of future learning initiatives.

  • Published On Feb 23, 2024 at 09:52 AM IST

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