How Do We Measure the Behavior Change and Business Impact of Learning?

Most organizations struggle with learning measurement, mostly focusing on completion rates, course grades and smile sheets. While these are important pieces of data, they can’t tell an organization much about learning’s impact on the business. 

According to Brandon Hall Group’s Learning Strategy Study, only one-quarter of companies have a strong framework to measure success included in their learning strategy. And the inability to measure learning’s impact is cited by 59% of companies as a challenge to executing on the strategy. This establishes an environment where learning measures only its own efficiency and cannot demonstrate its impact in changing behaviors and improving performance. 

There are numerous reasons companies are unable to measure learning at this level. On the one hand, very few companies believe they don’t need to do this kind of measurement and on the other, many are ill-prepared to do it. 

Challenges to Measuring Learning’s Impact 

A lack of proper metrics to measure learning’s impact is a huge problem. It comes from organizations beginning the measurement process only after learning has been created, delivered and consumed. The reality is that learning measurement starts at the beginning, but few organizations base their learning programs on defined metrics at the outset. 

How Do We Measure the Behavior Change and Business Impact of Learning?

Learning Programs Designed on Specific, Defined Metrics 

Without established, outcome-based metrics, organizations cannot tell how effective their learning is. They are in a constant cycle of putting content out and hoping for the best. This makes it nearly impossible to ensure the learning strategy is aligned with the overall business strategy. Another consequence of an immature measurement model is the inability to provide learners with either a connection between the learning and their jobs/roles or the expected outcomes of their learning. These two items can have an enormous impact on both learning engagement and performance results. 

  • Do we have a framework for measuring learning effectiveness? 
  • What metrics should we use to measure learning? 
  • How do we move beyond Kirkpatrick Level 1 and Level 2 measurements? What data is available to us outside of learning? 
  • Are we including the proper stakeholders to help determine metrics? 
  • What technology, if any, do we need to effectively measure and analyze? 
  • What new measurement models should need consider as learning continues to evolve? 

So much of learning measurement has been inward-facing because there was no connection to performance or the business. 

Ultimately, it is about shifting the focus of learning measurement from efficiency — enrollments, completions, grades, etc. — to efficacy. Measuring how many people finished a course is meaningless unless you can show that those people who finished it are behaving or performing differently than those who did not. The outcome of learning cannot simply be that learning occurred. It has to be the behaviors that drive performance. 


Complimentary Download: Optimizing Learning to Drive Performance (Research Data Highlights)

Organizations continue to struggle with developing a solid learning and development strategy that makes a genuine impact on the business. This challenge leaves many companies without the guidance necessary to design, develop and deliver effective learning programs to boost individual and organizational performance.

This presentation provides an overview of Brandon Hall Group’s Learning Strategy Study, conducted November 2020. It includes a look at how organizations approach their learning strategy, as well as analysis, critical questions that organizations need to answer and Brandon Hall Group’s point of view on the research.

Download Optimizing Learning to Drive Performance


Brandon Hall Group Strategy Briefs answer the critical questions learning, talent, HR and business leaders must address to manage their human capital. To tackle these critical questions in more detail, we built tools, frameworks, research summaries and business builders based on up-to-date research and case studies for you to implement best and next Human Capital Management (HCM) practices. To gain access to these valuable resources, contact [email protected].


Leading minds in HCM choose Brandon Hall Group to help them build future-proof employee-development plans for the new era. For more than 27 years, we have empowered, recognized and certified excellence in organizations around the world, influencing the development of over 10,000,000 associates and executives.


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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.