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Webinar recording: Using Data To Drive Your L&D Strategy

When it comes to learning data, you’ve got to dig a little deeper! Ditch the old habits of just accepting the numbers an LMS or some other platform spits out and start thinking about which metrics matter to you.

Especially when you think that data can tell you what’s important to your learners, which content’s working, how you’re contributing to the wider business goals and justify L&D’s ROI.

If you’re looking to crunch some more numbers and improve your learning strategy, this is the session for you! So, hit play on the recording below as we cover the following:

  • Why you need to be guided by data and its value in showing business impact.
  • Establishing which data points you’ll want to measure.
  • How to drive growth by understanding L&D metrics.
  • Where HowNow can help you find opportunities to grow through insights.
  • The cycle of feeding data into your strategy and repeating the process.

Why you need to be guided by data

If data doesn’t show your value or help you improve strategy, is there much point in it? That’s where the old habit of accepting whatever an LMS spits out can die hard. It’s data for the sake of data, not the specific insights related to your efforts or people.

When you’re more intentional with data, it can help you align your learning and development initiatives with wider goals and demonstrate business impact. For example, has the sales cycle shortened as a result of training or courses you implemented? Is there a direct correlation between engagement on content that guides customer conversations and their satisfaction scores?

Only data can categorically answer those questions and that’s why it’s so useful in adding weight to meeting and pitches, where you want to convince and hold your own against senior decision-makers. If they’ve got questions about business impact and ROI, you should have the numbers that back up your efforts.

Better insights can help you create better L&D strategy too! Once you know the topics, content types, length, formats and everything else that learners love, you can create more of that and improve your approach. And lastly, it can guide you on the overall culture and temperature in your teams. If you know which channels and topics are people interested in at particular moments, there might be insights and actions to share with leaders, HR colleagues and anyone else who might be interested.

Establishing the type of data that’s useful to you

Regardless of our field, the way we use data is always changing and open for consideration. It’s important to be critical with data and our old habits of just accepting whatever data points are the easiest to find or most presented.

Consider the hard and soft benefits you bring to the table and the data around those. Hard benefits are the specific and tangible results from your L&D activities, for example, a reduced cost for implementing training, reduced hours spent learning to facilitate higher productivity, or increased time spent learning if that’s the goal! These are more quantitative and provide more specific data points.

Soft Benefits are less tangible and quantifiable, they might include higher productivity within a specific area of the business as an outcome of introducing L&D activities or improved sentiment and engagement with certain elements covered by L&D – but these are harder to quantify. You’d need to gather data around people’s thoughts, actions and qualitative information.

As we’ll cover shortly, it’s easy to measure completion and assessment scores as a focus on compliance content, but when you’re covering ‘macro’ topics, you want the opportunity to ensure this data is being retained. It’s great knowing what training’s been done, but it’s better to know the effect of it.

Consider reviewing some of your data that surrounds ‘sentiment’ too – analyse what people are most responsive to or most engaged with alongside assessment scores to see what content is being retained. For example, if you’ve launched a D&I Course for your people, how do we know the message is getting across? Is there improved language in the workplace? Are you questioning unconscious bias more?

You might also choose to look at what people are searching for, both as an indicator of what people are engaging with now but the content they’re really looking for. Already we can see that finding better L&D opportunities and improving your strategy goes way beyond person X completed course Y and got Z result.

How to use data, beyond the obvious

The obvious data points are easy to find and it’s tempting to use that as a shortcut for grabbing those metrics. For example, if someone was hosting an event, they’d typically just look at the surface level data point of attendance. But do we know how long they were engaged for? Was there any behaviour change after the event in terms of content viewed? Looking at the event in isolation only tells you one thing, did someone attend or not.

Another pitfall to avoid is jumping to conclusions. You might see a piece of content with a massive number of views, but what if none of those have come in the past six months? Or you notice that open rate is through the roof for another piece of content, but the engagement and time spent with it is low. It comes back to that idea of digging a little deeper into the numbers.

Driving growth through insights and information

Data can really open the door to growth, by highlighting the actions, learning and skills of successful people, and helping you replicate that. So if your heavy hitters and high performers are viewing particular courses and content, how might that help others build the same skills? Did your best deal closers all take a particular course or view resources from certain sources? Try to identify trends between content and people to see what is working for you as a team.

Another key question would be which business and team goals could L&D help you accomplish? If the sales team needs to create more outbound leads but prospecting isn’t a skill or learning they’ve got under their belt, that’s a direct opportunity for learning to drive a team goal and potentially more sales or revenue.

In a nutshell, that means a tangible impact on the bottom line and demonstrates L&D’s ROI to the business. Another example would be that if your Customer Support teams are confident about troubleshooting a product but they need to brush up on their Tone Of Voice, you can bridge that gap with L&D.

Ultimately, we’re talking about whether our people have the skills needed to achieve our goals. This could arguably be the best opportunity to use L&D data to show impact and drive growth. You have the insights to understand which skills are lacking, to what extent, and create personalised pathways to close the gaps.

The cycle of data and continuous improvement

This is your quick reminder to be a bit selfish with your data too! It’s not just there to help you demonstrate value or achieve wider goals, use it to refine your strategy over time. Using data is not a one and done thing, tap into insights to create more of the content that has an impact and take more of the actions that bring results.

When L&D is following orders, we can align to a certain extent, but we can’t help shape the business goals or get a true understanding of where the challenges and problems come from. Armed with development data and an understanding of learners, L&D can play a really effective role as a consultant when they’re involved earlier in the process.

Imagine the wider business goal is to improve customer satisfaction and stakeholders presume adding more staff solves the issue, L&D’s role becomes one of onboarding and training those new reps. But what if we know that response times are the biggest customer pain point, and by integrating learning into the right tools and creating more microlearning, we can support reps in shaving minutes off that window?

There’s a huge difference between knowing a goal is to improve customer satisfaction and understanding the problems that have led us to that point. Data can help you understand that difference and take actions that truly make a difference.