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How to measure the ROI of L&D programs 

Before you invest in any learning and development (L&D) program, it’s important to justify how it adds value to and fits with the overall business in the first place. L&D programs are beneficial, that’s a given, and research over the years has proven that. However, L&D needs may differ across organisations, even among internal teams, and they may also change over time. So, you don’t just look for a training vendor out there, sign a contract with them, and hope for the best. Any L&D investment must make sense strategically across the organisation. Where do you want to go as an organisation? What gaps in culture or performance do you need to address? What tailored solutions do you need? 


In an article by HRO Today, MC2 Talent Manager and Trust Director Sarah Harris shares that any L&D agenda must be aligned with business strategy. “Our talent initiatives always stick to our core training pillars that aim to develop, inspire and reward our employee-partners. If our program doesn’t align to those pillars, then we know it’s not a worthwhile initiative,” she explains. 


It must make sense for your organisation and your business goals. Once you’ve determined that, you’re better positioned to make that L&D investment and ascertain what return on investment (ROI) metrics to evaluate after. 


So, what’s the best way to measure the ROI of an L&D program? The quick answer: It’s relative. In the same way that there’s no cookie-cutter approach to deploying any training program or L&D solution, there’s no singular approach to measuring its ROI. It will always depend on the needs and desired business outcomes of an organisation. 


In an interview by Alex Rough, Regional COO of Eagles Flight Asia, with Dave Root, CFO and Global Business Builder of Eagle’s Flight HQ, Dave explains that measuring ROI depends on what metrics matter to an organisation. It’s about determining how much a training program changes behaviour and improves performance, and how that contributes to achieving a business goal. 


Below is a transcript of Dave’s insights about measuring ROI. You can watch the whole interview here


Alex: How do you measure the ROI of a learning and development program and what are the metrics that you use to evaluate it? 


Learning That Engages and Sticks 


Dave: That’s a that that’s a tricky question because it depends on what the client wants and what they’re trying to measure.  

But some of the things we look at are things like increased engagement. So, if we do the learning, are we getting increased engagement from our employees? 

We think about, ‘Is learning sticking?’. So, you know, the learning, we want it to be for the long term. So if we’re seeing it stick and it’s lasting, there’s ROI there.  

We think about, ‘Is it connecting with real life for the people?’ So, is it actually making a difference in connecting with the work they’re doing? 

We’re not just teaching them a concept, but is it connecting with their work and themselves? Are they actually retaining the knowledge? You know, are we teaching them? And they get the concept and they forget—the learning decay—or actually, is it sticking? So that’s something that we look at and we want to measure.  


Tangible Metrics 


Dave: And probably the thing that people look at most is ‘How is it impacting the business?’ 

So you can put some financial metrics in place. That’s a hard thing to do because [there are] so many other factors. Is it the training that made the difference? Is it the markets that are making the difference? But there are some things that you can track financially.  

But you can also track things like ‘Is there [a] decrease in customer complaints? [Are] our processes more efficient?’ So and again, [it would vary from customer] to customer depending on [what you] want to measure, what is the outcome that you really care about. And that’s typically how we would measure. 




There are many ways to measure the ROI of any given L&D initiative. Below are some of the things you might want to look at based on Dave Root’s insights to measure the impact of your investment in L&D:

  1. Increased engagement 
  2. How learning sticks & connects with work 
  3. Financial metrics 
  4. Decrease in complaints or incidents 
  5. Increased efficiency of processes 

The important thing is to determine how aligned L&D is to your overall business strategy and to decide which business outcomes matter most to your organisation at a given point in time. You can’t measure everything all at once, but you can focus on a few things that return the most value to your organisation.