ATD Blog

The New Learning Metrics: Demonstrating Business Value and Impact

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Telling your workforce development story in fresh ways with new metrics can capture the attention of your business leaders and make your learning program an important business priority.

Details Make a Good Narrative Great

The right metrics—data points that take success measurements above and beyond traditional L&D methodologies—can bring your new learning story to life.

In their book The Expertise Economy, Kelly Palmer, chief learning officer at Degreed, and David Blake, the company’s co-founder, caution that corporate learning is often viewed as a cost center rather than a revenue-generating function. “Learning typically becomes more reactive than strategic. For example, one business leader asks for a conscious bias training program, another wants an agile development training program, and maybe a third asks for an onboarding program.”

As the authors put it, “A strong learning leader who understands business can develop a . . . strategy based on data from several sources and show how this learning can impact both the business and employees in meaningful ways.”

Your business has unique needs and goals; they’re the best place to start. Perhaps retaining salespeople is a big priority. Maybe it’s reducing the time it takes for engineers to upskill so they can keep up with new technologies. These things matter to frontline managers and they matter to business leaders.


The new way to measure learning success is less transactional than the old way. It de-emphasizes time spent learning and focuses more on use through a lens of workforce engagement. It looks at social learning and considers content. It addresses the skills your people have and those they need. And it conveys how all of these data points influence the results that matter to your stakeholders, not just your learning, talent, and HR teams.

In our work at Degreed with hundreds of the world’s most innovative companies, we’ve started to see four new stories take shape. Together, they paint a picture of the changes in culture, behavior, and skills that drive performance.

Your Engagement Story
This is about understanding if your people are participating in learning and feel committed to their career development and advancement.

  • Activations
  • Log-in frequencies
  • Monthly average users and whether they’re returning
  • Assignments made and completed
  • Net promoter score

Your Social Story
The goal here is understanding how people at every level of your organization are sharing their expertise so learning isn’t solely L&D driven.

  • Trending or emerging skills
  • Recommendations for content, people, and experiences
  • Takeaways, including the percentage of workers logging them
  • Influencers (subject matter experts, followers, posts, organization network analysis)

Your Content Story
This is about knowing what your organization is learning. Then you can ask how, where, and what your people want to learn. Your content story considers:

  • Popular searches and topics
  • In-demand content providers
  • Content consumed formally and informally, internally, and externally (courses, videos, podcasts, books, and more)
  • Content added by employees (social sharing)

Your Skills Story
This tells you what capabilities your organization has currently and those it still needs.

  • Capability gaps
  • Emerging skills
  • Velocity (how quickly people are learning)
  • Skill shift (how quickly individual or organizational skill profiles change)
  • Skill value (the dollar value of in-demand skills)
  • Skill cost avoidance (recruitment savings from internal upskilling)
  • Workforce readiness
  • Talent identification
  • Career mobility
  • Trends

For more on learning metrics and skill data, check out the Degreed blog.

About the Author

Susie is director of client engagement within the client experience organization at Degreed. In this role, she is responsible for advising Fortune 500 enterprise clients with transformational thought leadership, strategic planning, design, and go-to-market plans using Degreed’s innovative, employee-driven product and technology to deliver on business objectives and desired user experience. Prior to joining Degreed, Susie led the global learning and leadership product management, initiatives, and implementation team in human resources at Bank of America.

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I really appreciate the different categories of learning metrics and the things included in each. Great stuff!!
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This is a great article on measuring learning success and love the four stories that you can tell!!
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