Driving Business Value through Learning And Development

In the current scenario, organizations & leaders are talking about the importance of upskilling and re-skilling the workforce to keep up with the VUCA world.


The last five years have witnessed an enormous transformation in the Learning & Development function of organizations across globe. There are various research and findings undertaken to showcase the direct linkage between performance and learning & development initiatives of organizations. Owing to this, the function has been revamped, reshaped and has gained a significant place in human capital management. In the current scenario, organizations & leaders are talking about the importance of upskilling and re-skilling the workforce to keep up with the VUCA world. In line of this thought, new trends, philosophies, and formats of training are getting disseminated into the market place every now and then. From functional and behavioral training to value-based learnings, companies are amping up to the best possible extent year on year. Learners are being provided with a variety of formats; bite sized, online, MOOCs, self-paced learnings and the list goes on.

With a plethora of learning options available in the hands of employees, the Learning and Development function is rightly placed in the center of image and culture of an organization. Moreover, most companies also position it in their total rewards strategy. Currently, the success of the function is primarily measured based on the number of training hours achieved, number of participants and feedback from learners. However, we are on the onset of a new era post pandemic where leaders are relying on re-skilling manpower to step up for revival and growth. As a result, it has become essential for the Learning and Development function to communicate the ‘value’ it adds to business.

Most organizations struggle in establishing monetary or numeric benefits of learning. How do we define that ‘value’? Do we need to change our metrics? How do we communicate whether is it worthwhile to invest in L&D?

The most used and prevalent model or theory for measuring the effectiveness of training is the Kirkpatrick model, which was developed by Dr. Donald Kirkpatrick in 1950s. The model prescribes four levels of evaluating learning: Reactions, Learning, Behavior and Results. Studies show that most organizations are unable to measure the effectiveness post the second level. Measuring the ROI of trainings has always been a challenge for companies. It is now time that organizations change the lens and the metrics to justify the contribution it adds to business:

1.      Sales quantum analysis – as suggested by the name, this metric is applicable to the sales function. A comparison in the pre & post training sales volumes will act as an accelerator in quantifying contributions of learning.

2.      The KPI effect – Just as sales quantum could be the key lens for sales function, similarly SMART KPIs for departments like finance, HR, technology, etc. are instrumental for studying the ROI of learning. Training needs are derived from the objective of enhancing these KPIs. It is thus critical to study the movement of KPIs post a couple of training interventions. If done for various departments over the course of time, this could act as an all-rounder metric to establish ‘value’.

3.      Financial returns – The end objective of any business; big, small or micro is to achieve top line and/or reduce bottom line. All functions work in synergy to achieve this. The L&D function should not be treated any different. Analysis and integration of how training fetches the financial objectives would be the key to establishing L&D’s monetary contribution. Simple to use statistical tools; regression analysis, anova analysis and t-tests could be used to establish movements and fetch results to the business.

4.      Time saved study – It is an unsaid endeavour of the function to optimize the time of doing tasks in any role.  If we partner with business and work closely to understand the progress on this front, the success of the function would increase double fold.

5.      Cost saved study-Functions such as finance, operations, technology, etc. have an implicit contract to reduce the costs. If training efforts are directed towards achieving the same, an integrated analysis of cost reduction should be provided to business. L&D can thus showcase the value added to bottom line.


While using the above may help us look at the numeric contributions that Learning and development adds, However, the correct picture will be unveiled only if we don’t forget to apply learning levels of modern training. Modern ways of imparting training do not limit to the classroom/ modules. It also includes experiential learning. Blooms taxonomy by Dr. Benjamin Bloom gives us different stages of learning; 1) Remember the concepts, 2) Understanding the content, 3) Applying the theory, 4) Analyzing and evaluating post-application and 5) re-creating what has been learnt. All training efforts must be directed towards all stages of learning to reap and calculate the full benefit.

It goes without saying that using such lenses to establish the ROI of learning would require a strong collaboration with different functions, however if done correctly over the course of years, it would justify why L&D is much more than a function that builds a culture of learning. It further drives value for business.

(The views expressed in this article have been curated by Rohit Hasteer, Group CHRO,, & solely for BW People publication. The publication has nothing to do with the author's views.)

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