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The role of data in learning and development programs in the workplace

by Staff GBAF Publications Ltd
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The importance of adopting a data-led approach to learning and development initiatives in the workplace

By: Joe Udwin, Chief Technology Officer at Questionmark

During a time of massive transformation and increasing economic pressures for businesses, learning and development (L&D) programs must continue to be prioritised. 

According to new research from City & Guilds, 96% of organisations expect their L&D budgets to remain the same or increase in the next financial year. However, while intentions are well placed, many programs continue to fall short of expectations due to ineffective planning and evaluation. 

Transitioning to a data-driven approach to L&D

Business decisions are increasingly driven by data, but at a time when it’s more important than ever, employers are failing to invest in securing reliable data about their most valuable assets – their people. 

This largely comes down to L&D programs being ill-equipped and lacking the necessary tools to accurately measure the tangible impact of the initiatives they have put in place. Put simply, is your learning and development programme working?

Data continues to fuel transformation in every field, from marketing to finance, and professional development is no different. To be effective, there needs to be measurement – what gets measured, gets improved.

A data-led approach results in quality and actionable insights that can inform how best to implement a learning program that aligns withthe overarching business objectives. As businesses continue to commit resources to training and development in a time of recession and financial pressure it is critical, they’re able to understand (and hopefully) ROI – something which is almost impossible without comprehensive data.

How interpreting data can improve L&D programs

Traditionally, when analysing the effectiveness of L&D programs the ‘data’ comes from learner feedback forms, otherwise known as ‘happy sheets.’ While these are important, it doesn’t paint a full picture. 

Incorporatingnew methods of quantitative and qualitative data collectionwill provide better and more powerful insights.When creating a data-driven system, it’s important to analyse both the current and historical records. 

Again, this is about gaining meaningful insight and by reviewing past employee training an organisation can leverage predictive and advanced analytics to understand which training programs will likely work best for the identified skills gaps.

How L&D programs an affect the wider business strategy

L&D is like any other investment, consideration must be given to how a program fits within the wider business strategy and objectives.

Unlike some investments, however, professional learning must have at its heart people.Foster a culture centred around learning, continuously building on skill sets, expanding knowledge, and, in turn improving their performance goes hand-in-hand with any financial commitment.

An effective learning program creates an environment where the employees and broader business objectives are aligned and there is genuine buy-in from employees.

With significant financial investment set to be put into L&D programs over the coming year when budgets are likely to be tested, it’ll be key that in order for organisations to understand, and indeed, demonstrate ROI that they are committed to making accurate data-driven decisions.