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Impact and value of L&D in an organisation - is it possible to measure?

ROI - or Return on Investment - is a hot topic in the L&D world at the moment.

Management want a justification of costs and to find out the return on the investment into training. From a L&D Specialist’s perspective, we know that training has a positive impact and does make a difference, however this impact isn’t always tangible - it can boost confidence, morale and demonstrate investment. So how can we calculate this?

ROI is an area I have been researching for some time in order to analyse the programmes we run here at Morgan McKinley. Our training programmes are conducted at all levels of the business, many of which are run by the subject matter experts within our business.

In order to further investigate this area and develop my analysis skills, I attended the IITD/Skillnet workshop on ROI. 

This was the first IITD session that I attended and so was unsure of what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. The day was facilitated by Kevin Hannigan, Head of Talent Consulting in HPC and an IITD Council member. The session itself was quite small in number which allowed for much discussion between the delegates. Throughout the day what really came across was that all companies - big and small - are looking to measure ROI and that we are all facing the same challenges. 

One of the first things we learned was that not everything can be measured! Helpful. However most training results have a value - i.e. if X doesn’t happen we may lose people. A person leaving costs a company money. Thus a value can be applied to this. 

Kevin covered off various models, calculations and theories we could use (I won’t give away all of his secrets. You will have to attend his next session to get these!). Learning transfer is a common model for ROI. This looks at the optimum environment for learning transfer within and organisation and what will encourage it. 

The four factors, in order of importance are:  
1. Is it important to the organisation? Can they see others in the business using this knowledge/demonstrating this behaviour. Is it living and breathing in the organisation?
2. Is it important to me? Will it enhance my career prospects? Will it help me in my role?
3. Will someone follow up with me? After the training will anyone be speaking to me about this? Will my manager/director be looking to see a change in my behaviour?
4. Will I get the opportunity to practice? After training will I be putting my skills to use - this is very important to embed the learning. Recent studies suggest it now takes 56-92 days to form a habit so practice is key. 

As already mentioned, not everything can be measured. Similarly, not everything should be measured. Some training just has to take place. For example systems induction. If someone doesn’t know how to use the system they cannot do their job effectively. Obviously there are measures we can apply to this but it is a valuable session to measure? ROI takes time, so it is important to invest your time in worthwhile measures (this may depend on the audience; who is going to be interested in this information) that may largely dictate what you analyse. 

Learning and Development is at the core of the culture here at Morgan McKinley. Training programmes are offered at all levels and they are intended to support your career development. To find out more about joining us please talk to Michelle Donohoe in our Talent Acquisition team

  • Jun 07, 2016
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