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5 Challenges of Measuring the Effectiveness of Corporate Learning

  • 5 Min Read

In this post, we highlight five common challenges learning leaders face when measuring the effectiveness of their corporate learning programs, and provide actionable advice on how to overcome them.


Everybody wins when corporate learning is part of a business strategy … right?  

While we may think that corporate learning is part of a winning strategy, actually proving it is a different matter. In fact, 46% of learning leaders find calculating the return on investment (ROI) of their corporate learning programs is challenging. 

In a recent survey conducted by D2L and Training Industry, it became clear just how much of a challenge it was for learning leaders to measure the effectiveness of their programs.  

In Redefining the ROI of Corporate Learning, we uncovered some conflicting stats: 

  • only 33% of organizations are measuring the outcomes of their corporate learning 
  • however, 61% of learning leaders said their programs are a success 
  • rightfully so, 75% of respondents are looking for better metrics to include in their future learning strategies 

Let’s make this right. In this post, we’ll call out five challenges learning leaders face when measuring the effectiveness of their corporate learning programs, and provide advice on how to overcome them. 

1. Keeping Learners Engaged

The number one challenge found among 54% of learning and development (L&D) leaders was keeping learners engaged with the program. Raise your hand if you can relate from a leader’s point of view as well as that of a learner. 

There could be a few reasons why learners aren’t engaging in training, many of which tie back to adult learning theory. Our learning preferences change with age. Taking this into consideration can help create programming that better engages with target audiences. 

Many of us want to have more control over our learning. Try creating corporate learning that is asynchronous, allowing the learners to study when they have time in their schedule. This will also help the move away from a traditional instructor-led model and provide learners the opportunity to try a self-directed approach. 

Adult learners also want a reason to learn. It’s time for L&D leaders to put on their marketing hats and show their staff why the training is important and the impacts it will have in the short and long terms

Tom Whelan, director of corporate research at Training Industry, shares advice on the benefits of marketing corporate learning during an episode of The Skill Shift

2. Aligning Training With Company Goals

Need more insights on how to relate training to company goals? Just over a third of respondents found this to be a challenge when trying to create effective corporate learning programs. 

One way to accomplish this, according to Whelan, is to think more broadly about the goals of corporate learning and move away from measuring success based on learner satisfaction. 

The first step is understanding the big-picture goals of your company to ensure everybody is moving in the same direction. Next, determine how your learning programs can support them.  

For example, if one of the company goals is to improve retention, consider creating a skills map of your existing employees—including current roles and different options for internal mobility, both upward and laterally. This practice can be used to map skills to careers, create paths for upskilling employees and develop plans to fill talent gaps by offering clear career pathways. If your staff or new talent can see where they can grow, they’ll be more likely to want to stay.  

3. Sustaining the Impact of Learning

Just because a person attends training doesn’t mean they’re actually learning. Just over 40% of L&D leaders are challenged by making sure learning sticks. 

Once again, adult learning theory can help ease some of these woes. For adults, making practical activities part of effective corporate learning can ensure that what’s learned is remembered. Develop programs that take what employees are learning and ask them—as part of the training—to relate it directly to their roles.  

For example, if your training is on communication, ask learners to open their email, choose a recent message and respond to it using what they’ve learned. Practicing the skills in a practical way will take people from being passive to active learners and help sustain what they’re studying.  

Testing employees on what training they’ve taken is another good way to help employees sustain what they’ve learned. 

4. Demonstrating Effectiveness of Learning

While it’s easy to theorize about the impacts corporate learning can have, actually measuring them is trickier. Almost half of survey respondents said demonstrating the impact of corporate learning is a challenge, and 33% identified having trouble defining what metrics to measure. 

Start with identifying the benefits of the program, and then commit to tracking them. Snapshots aren’t going to do you any good—it’s the trends over time that will start to show the true value of your corporate learning. 

If data scarcity is an issue, think about other departments that might have information that’s useful. Reach out to colleagues in these areas and ask them to share the data or, as Whelan describes, set up handshakes that allow you to trade information to benefit both parties. 

Another way to help collect data is by investing in a learning experience platform (LXP). Not only can a great LXP provide and house learning material, but it can also keep all relevant data in one place, making it easier to access and analyze. 

5. Lack of Leadership Support

For 42% of learning leaders, support from company leadership is a challenge for corporate learning programs.  

One way to get their attention is by showing the value of your program. While this may seem reminiscent of the chicken before the egg dilemma, good data doesn’t lie. 

Many leaders want to see the financial impact of corporate learning. Not only will this help show that their investment is worthwhile, but it could also lead to more support and money for programming down the line. 

Whelan describes how a new report from the ISO suggests that different stakeholders are going to want different information, so it’s important to determine what that data is and where to get it from. 

Showing there’s an understanding of what the company is trying to achieve and, in turn, how corporate learning can help will show it’s worth investing in. 

Cracking the Nut of Tracking the ROI of Corporate Learning

Feeling more confident about showing the effectiveness of corporate learning? Now that these challenges seem less scary, it’s time to start gathering data and proving the program’s success. 

Don’t feel quite ready, or need a bit more information? Check out the full guide to Redefining the ROI of Corporate Learning for more insights and advice on how and where to start tracking the success of corporate learning. 

Two people happily working on a laptop

Redefining the ROI of Corporate Learning

In this report, discover why it’s so tricky to track the success of L&D programs and how to start measuring success.

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Table of Contents
  1. Keeping Learners Engaged
  2. Aligning Training With Company Goals
  3. Sustaining the Impact of Learning
  4. Demonstrating Effectiveness of Learning
  5. Lack of Leadership Support
  6. Cracking the Nut of Tracking the ROI of Corporate Learning