When you’re investing time and resources into something across a workforce, you want to know that it’s working. Particularly when trying to gauge the effectiveness of something qualitative like employee learning and development (L&D). For many organisations, this may act as a barrier to employee investments.

So what’s the fix? Here’s a look at some of the different ways to track the impact of knowledge sharing approaches.

What is learning and development?

Learning and Development (L&D) are necessary elements for employees and companies to grow, thrive, and stay innovative throughout the employee lifecycle. L&D can consist of both physical training activities on-the-floor, courses, a flow of digital learning content, stretched learning, microlearning, social learning or a combination of all (blended learning). “

It covers ways to align individuals skills and knowledge with an organisation’s goals and requirements. This could be on-the-job health and safety training or courses aimed at upskilling employees and building company culture.

How can the effectiveness of L&D be measured?

The challenge of evaluating workplace training is one of the most influential theories date back to 1959 with the Kirkpatrick Model. Named after Dr Donald Kirkpatrick, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, the “father of workplace training”.

The Kirkpatrick Model is a four-level evaluation process that consists of:

Level 1: Reactions

This records the initial response of participants via a survey, rating or chat session. How effective and engaging did they find the training?

Level 2: Learning

How much of the information was absorbed? This will typically be tested with a quiz or test.

Level 3: Behaviour

This looks for ways in which training has changed behaviours. Has a safety course helped to reduce accident rates?

Level 4: Results

What has the overall impact been on the organisation? Has productivity improved or compliance risks been reduced?

Despite being more than 60 years old, the basic methods outlined in the Kirkpatrick Model remain just as relevant today. Today, digital technology has provided much better ways to track this information.

How L&D evaluation through technology

Digital methods remove the need for slow and error-prone manual handling of data when implementing the Kirkpatrick Model. HR teams can remove a whole raft of documents, forms and spreadsheets with real-time management and task automation.

For example, Learning Management Systems (LMS) have been designed to collect this information and to make performance data instantly accessible. Offering automated features like integrated reporting and real-time tracking of training behaviours and activities.

In addition, it allows goals to be set and training plans created with metrics to track feedback and effectiveness of L&D. Then, if something isn’t working, HR can quickly identify the issue and tackle it.

Combining technology with the Kirkpatrick Method

Utilising technology, like LMSs, effectively enables HR professionals to ‘reverse engineer’ the Kirkpatrick model by starting with the desired Level 4 result.

Here’s an overview of how this technique can be used to create an evaluation process:

Level 4: Identify the desired result:

  • Improving performance
  • Boosting retention levels
  • Future-proofing skill sets
  • Building company culture

Level 3: Identify the behaviours that need to change:

  • Reduced absences/turnover
  • More effective work processes
  • Improved morale and well-being
  • Reduced compliance risks

Level 2: Focus on training that targets Level 3 behaviours:

  • Health and safety modules
  • Courses to upskill and build competencies
  • Well-being and welfare sessions
  • Demonstrations and on-site instruction

Level 1: Choose methods to track effectiveness

  • Online surveys and integrated feedback
  • Data analytics – time spent, percentage completion etc
  • Chatroom sessions and team meetings
  • Quizzes, tests and assessments

Once a process is in place, different methods and approaches are tested to see what works best to achieve the desired results.

How to measure L&D employee engagement?

The 2020 Workplace Learning Report found that the top five ways used by organisations to track L&D performance are:

1. Qualitative feedback from employees (43%)
2. Number of online courses completed (38%)
3. Number of employees who consistently learn online (35%)
4. Employee satisfaction (34%)
5. Qualitative feedback about behavioural change (31%)

HR may also include quantitative methods for employee engagement. For example, frequency of visits to the LMS or course library and time spent learning.

The report also stated that the top four ways to measure engaged learners is through:

1. Course completions
2. Learner satisfaction surveys
3. Minutes learning per month
4. Repeat visits (2+) per month

Fortunately, this information can be automated with technology. It can help HR teams measure the impact, usage and effectiveness of L&D programs. This can be done through reporting tools in Learning Management Systems. For example, with custom reporting, HR teams can compare course completion rates across the organisation or automatically generate course completion certificates for their employees.

Learn more about how ELMO can help your organisation.
Learn more about how ELMO can help your organisation.