A recent Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) survey reported that only 7% of organisations evaluate the wider impact of L&D initiatives on business or society. I’m surprised that this has made headlines as organisations have always been fairly poor at measuring impact or ROI. It can be seen as challenging and time consuming and in fact the report cited ‘other business priorities’ as the most common obstacle to evaluation.
This is not an excuse, however, for not measuring the impact of learning, nor ROI, for the organisation and the greater the number of people being developed and higher expenditure, so does the case increase for putting effective evaluation in place. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes one-off interventions and/or short-term development simply has to be a leap of faith. However, like every other product or service in an organisation, it is essential that the organisation understands if it is achieving ROI whether this be financial, engagement, retention, talent pipeline, performance enhancement or a combination of factors.
The survey reports that 37% of organisations said they only evaluate the satisfaction of those who participated in L&D. In my view, the traditional ‘happy sheet’, feedback form is a waste of time other than for pilot programmes as it provides limited information about the reaction to the trainer/training and whether the delegates enjoyed the training, nothing more.
The design of evaluation starts during the programme design phase by agreeing with project stakeholders a set of clear learning objectives as, without these, there is no baseline for measurement. Impact and ROI cannot be measured simply through one method, but a range of methods agreed during the design phase, starting with reaction for pilot programmes, progressing through measurement at each of the 4 Kirkpatrick stages of Learning, Behaviour change, Results and beyond to ROI. These should also be agreed with stakeholders so the feedback is targeted and relevant for future strategy and planning. and time isn’t wasted in measuring data that is not going to be used. We advise our clients to not waste time in gathering data that is not going to be used and focus on data that is going to make a difference in their decision making.
A key element is turning the measurement of ‘soft’ skills (I hate that phrase but it is universally applied even though there’s nothing ‘soft’ about good leadership and management skills) into hard measures relevant to your organisation. Of course, technology helps in recording date but you must first decide what you want to measure.
If this is proving a challenge, do get in touch as we can help