How much job train­ing equates to time wast­ed:  About 20%, accord­ing to one LinkedIn study.  That’s the per­cent­age of learn­ers who nev­er apply their train­ing to their job.  That same study says 67% of learn­ers apply the lessons learned, but in the end, revert to pre­vi­ous habits.  Anoth­er study found 45% of train­ing con­tent is nev­er applied.

For HR pro­fes­sion­als design­ing or mon­i­tor­ing the Return on Invest­ment of train­ing pro­grams, those are dis­turb­ing sta­tis­tics, espe­cial­ly when you con­sid­er the decrease in pro­duc­tiv­i­ty this caus­es and the cost of wast­ed money.

So, how do you mit­i­gate or address the issue?

Learning Metrics

Gone is the day lead­ers make learn­ing strat­e­gy deci­sions via gut and intu­ition.  Arrived is the day lead­ers look at learn­ing data and sta­tis­tics to make deci­sions and pro­vide evi­dence for an action.

There was a time when the only met­rics request­ed from learn­ing and devel­op­ment offi­cials were the num­ber of peo­ple tak­ing part in the train­ing and the cost involved.  In oth­er words:  basic effec­tive­ness and efficiency.

As with every­thing, how­ev­er, learn­ing and devel­op­ment has evolved.  It’s now a busi­ness crit­i­cal change agent.  It’s not enough, though, to mea­sure inputs, the num­ber of cours­es, and atten­dance.  Learn­ing and devel­op­ment must look at the out­put and outcomes.

“We’re in the process of try­ing to become a learn­ing orga­ni­za­tion, and to become a learn­ing orga­ni­za­tion you have to be nim­ble.  You have to have a cul­ture of lead­ers as teach­ers.  You have to have a cul­ture of rec­og­niz­ing those things that con­tribute, and actu­al­ly those things what lead to suc­cess,” Brad Samar­gya said.  Samar­gya is the Chief Learn­ing Offi­cer for mobile phone mak­er Ericsson.

All of the descrip­tions Samar­gya is using refer back to the con­tent, specif­i­cal­ly how it is deliv­ered and is it of sub­stance.  When both pieces are in con­cert, HR pro­fes­sion­als should see an increase in qual­i­ty around the met­rics gathered.


First, let’s focus on delivery.

Saman­tha Ham­mock is the Chief Learn­ing Offi­cer for Amer­i­can Express.  Her com­pa­ny employs a learn­ing man­age­ment sys­tem as part of their learn­ing process.  Ham­mock says mea­sure­ment is the company’s biggest need.

“If we’re going to man­date train­ing, we had bet­ter be robust in track­ing and report­ing. Is the expe­ri­ence get­ting bet­ter, is the knowl­edge increas­ing. We have put it thru work­force ana­lyt­ics to slice and dice some of those met­rics,” Ham­mock said.

Of course, learn­ing man­age­ment sys­tems are not the only way to deliv­er learn­ing.  Mobile learn­ing for instance, makes con­tent avail­able on smart­phones, tablets, and oth­er devices.  Not only is the con­tent acces­si­ble any­where, but any­time.  Video learn­ing is sim­i­lar in that the con­tent is avail­able in the ever-pop­u­lar YouTube for­mat.  Gam­i­fi­ca­tion, or edu­ca­tion by gam­ing, again deliv­ers learn­ing in a form much for attrac­tive than your reg­u­lar class­room for­mat, and microlearn­ing, or the strat­e­gy of deliv­er­ing learn­ing con­tent over a short amount of time.

None of those work with­out one spe­cif­ic ingre­di­ent, how­ev­er:  the con­tent.  Pro­vid­ing rel­e­vant con­tent is key to a good learn­ing strat­e­gy, good met­rics, and  to ensure your learn­ers are engaged and con­tin­ue to come back for more.

The mod­ern employ­ee is dis­tract­ed, over­whelmed and has lit­tle time to spare. Cater­ing con­tent to their needs is not only impor­tant – it’s critical.

The con­tent pre­sent­ed to employ­ees must be applic­a­ble and time­ly to help them with their dai­ly duties, expand their mind, and pro­vide them with quick take­aways that can imme­di­ate­ly be applied.

Metrics to Watch

There are a hand­ful of met­rics derived for HR pro­fes­sion­als to ana­lyze.

  1. Com­ple­tion rates – This met­ric is impor­tant because it indi­cates the lev­el of learn­er engage­ment, moti­va­tion and par­tic­i­pa­tion. Low com­ple­tion rates indi­cate employ­ees aren’t invest­ing in the mate­r­i­al or how it relates to their jobs.  High com­ple­tion rates show employ­ees are invested.
  2. Per­for­mance and Progress – This par­tic­u­lar met­ric is split into two cat­e­gories: the indi­vid­ual and the group.  For the indi­vid­ual, met­rics will give you a detailed look at how the employ­ee is doing with the learn­ing.  For the group, the met­ric will include the details around spe­cif­ic trends.  For instance, how the group is pro­gress­ing through the mate­r­i­al.  Both indi­vid­ual met­rics and group met­rics allow for the track­ing of course effec­tive­ness and engagement.
  3. Sat­is­fac­tion and approval – This met­ric gives HR pro­fes­sion­als some indi­ca­tion of how the employ­ee or employ­ees feel about the con­tent. The is a pow­er­ful met­ric because it allows HR or learn­ing man­agers to adjust cur­rent con­tent or, if need be, cre­ate bet­ter con­tent based on the needs of the employee.
  4. Instruc­tor and man­ag­er rat­ings – This met­ric may not always be applic­a­ble as, in some cas­es, mate­r­i­al is not pre­sent­ed by an instruc­tor or man­ag­er but through a tech­nol­o­gy inter­face of some sort. If that is not the case, this will indi­cate how learn­ers feel about the instruc­tor or man­ag­er.  It can also be direct­ly linked to the rea­son an employ­ee or group of employ­ees are not learn­ing at the lev­el expected.
  5. Com­pe­ten­cy and pro­fi­cien­cy – Com­pe­ten­cy and pro­fi­cien­cy met­rics show HR pro­fes­sion­als if employ­ees have the knowl­edge and skills to achieve a desired out­come. If not, this met­ric allows for learn­ing man­agers to adjust the mate­r­i­al accord­ing­ly.  It also allows from some insight into an employ­ee or group’s cur­rent­ly proficiency.

In summation

The chal­lenges fac­ing HR pro­fes­sion­als when using ana­lyt­ics to trans­form the learn­ing and devel­op­ment pro­gram are con­nect­ed.  Before com­pa­nies can actu­al­ly engage with the trans­for­ma­tion, data has to be present.  Whether it is real­ized or not, com­pa­nies do have learn­ing data avail­able.  What may not exist is the abil­i­ty to eval­u­ate that data.

Data pro­vides invalu­able insight into the future learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties of a company’s work­force.  Now, more than ever before, HR pro­fes­sion­als have a real oppor­tu­ni­ty to do what all lead­ers and C‑suite mem­bers want to do:  pre­dict the future.  By lever­ag­ing and under­stand­ing the data gen­er­at­ed by learn­ing pro­grams, HR pro­fes­sion­als can bet­ter eval­u­ate the con­tent and their effec­tive­ness.  It can lead to bet­ter out­comes both devel­op­men­tal­ly for the employ­ee and finan­cial­ly for the employer.

By Mason Stevenson

Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on