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A Framework to Measure the Business Impact of Training Programs

December 15, 2021 | By David Wentworth


A common exercise as the calendar year winds down is to look back at what was accomplished over the past 12 months. No doubt this year L&D teams will reflect on the drastic changes they faced in creating and delivering learning. There is also a good chance they will look at just how many learning programs they launched, how many learners they reached and how well-received the programs were. Hopefully, they are happy with the results.

But for most organizations, the reflection stops there. Few companies will be looking back to see how their programs impacted behaviors, performance or business outcomes. L&D teams typically have not been very good at this kind of measurement, the kind defined in Kirkpatrick’s Levels 3 and 4. And they have struggled with this long before the pandemic. This past year has only provided more obstacles to meaningful learning measurement.

However, as many of us will promise ourselves we will start hitting the gym or eating better once the calendar flips over, L&D teams can — and should — take a new approach to measurement. If your company is still relying solely on completion rates and smile sheets, the only time that is better than right now to start doing more strategic measurement was probably a year or two ago.

The gap between what it takes to make Level 2 measurements (the degree to which participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitudes, confidence and commitment) and Level 3 measurements (the degree to which participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job) is massive. It is a leap many companies are unwilling or unable to make. Most L&D teams are already completely overwhelmed, even with the minimal measurement they already do. That’s why it is often necessary to enlist some help.

Brandon Hall Group Smartchoice Platinum Preferred Provider, EI, developed a model that includes many elements from existing ones to give companies a granular framework for successful measurement. It is designed to not only help companies determine learning’s impact on business outcomes but also help identify the “learnability” of their programs. In other words, companies can discern how quickly and proficiently learners attain information, knowledge or skills –— initially and over time.

The approach is a holistic one that addresses measurement — not as an endpoint in the learning life cycle, but a continuous process that informs and improves learning every step of the way. At a high level, the framework includes the following steps:

Using a model such as this enables L&D teams to demonstrate the impact their approaches have on learners and the business. This is critical at a time when there is heightened interest from the business as to just what L&D is delivering.

To see the framework in more detail and learn more about EI’s measurement strategies, download this .

David Wentworth, Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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