Measuring learning typically involves administering a questionnaire to participants at the end of training. The resulting data give leaders a glimpse into what happened during the class or course. The number of hours spent in training or the credentials earned may also be used to show outcomes at the program or enterprise level. However, these reports do not prepare the organization’s leaders to make decisions about skill acquisition and its application for a dynamic, disruptive business world.
COVID-19 shined a spotlight on the shortcomings of using retrospective metrics to describe the current state of the workforce. The lack of data limits an organization’s ability to survive disruptions, let alone thrive in them.
Deloitte’s research found that leaders need forward-facing insights about their workforce so they can make better, faster decisions about the organization’s direction. Pre-pandemic, 97 percent of survey respondents said they need additional information on the capabilities of their workforce, yet only 11 percent of organizations said they were able to produce information on their workforce in real time.
New measures are needed to assess the outcomes of learning experiences. It is emerging that a holistic view is needed—and is being adopted by many organizations seeking to thrive. Deloitte describes the learning experience as “diverse activities or experiences undertaken by learners in different settings and learning modalities that enables the acquisition and application of knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attributes.”
With learning as a constant in the organizational culture, instead of an event, organizations need to turn attention to the engagement of the workforce. How much are workers using the tools and resources provided to them? How often do they share knowledge with others? What do employees think about the company?
Ongoing insights to workforce sentiments, norms, and behaviors will help leaders understand the culture, identify risks, and decide what to do to achieve the organization’s goals.
Let’s look an example: consider how to measure the outcomes of a milestone learning experience for new promotees or new hires. The organization provides a resource-rich environment with videos, articles, worksheets, and job aids. Participants collaborate with others on activities during working sessions with guidance from coaches. Participants have time for reflection and sharing.
In this case, how would the organization know whether a good, productive investment was made?
The outcomes of such a learning experience are difficult to measure. These include the learner’s sense of being understood by designers of the experience, their feelings of curiosity and accomplishment, and the confidence that they have a supportive community in which they can share information.
So how would you measure these qualitative elements of the learning experience?
Start by clarifying what questions your organization wants to answer. Use employee engagement or climate surveys or other data sources to learn more about the workforce. What do workers in different levels and occupations want to do in the future? Have you let workers know about future skills requirements? Assess your technology to find out what data are currently collected, and which questions these data points can answer. Finally, identify your gaps and research new technologies to fill these gaps.
What questions about learning experiences do you want to help your organization answer?