Showing ROI for Learning Programs
Learning is, or should be, an integral part of a business strategy. Companies today cannot operate effectively with the antiquated mindset that employees just need to do their jobs and employees are expendable, all with outdated systems.
Forward-thinking companies know that in order to meet business goals, they need to recognize and invest in people-first strategies that align with business strategies. Executives at these organizations are tying these business goals to retaining top talent, increasing revenue, enabling sales channels, and customer satisfaction for better business outcomes.
Partner Up! You’ve Got Allies
If you can bridge the gap between departments and the strategies to support larger business goals, you can create efficiencies and gain broader support. Build bridges with other departments in your organization to gain stakeholder support to ingrain learning and development as an integral business strategy.
Partnering up with senior leadership is also essential. You need to understand the objectives of the business and they need to understand the impact that L&D can have on goals. By offering programs that directly correlate to business operations, you’ll gain executive support. Having a member of senior leadership as a champion for each L&D initiative will also help to ensure the values of programs disseminate throughout the organization.
You will be able to justfiy L&D spend or get investment in initiatives from senior leadership if you have cross-departmental buy-in, can deliver measurable impact across multiple teams, and can show efficiencies — cost, operational, or both — by the approach you’re proposing. Add an executive sponsor and you have a winning pitch for a long-term commitment.
Real-World Examples of Tying People Strategies to Business Goals
This section will give you examples of how to tie people strategies to business goals. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, but it will provide you with a starting point for success.
Goal: Customer Retention & ARR
Many companies have customer retention and annual recurring revenue (ARR) as goals. For this example, let’s say the goal is to have a 98 percent customer retention rate. Whether the ARR goal is $10M or $500M, the underlying strategy will be the same: Invest in customer learning, satisfaction, and retention programs to maximize business outcomes.
1. Invest in customer service training to ensure customer satisfaction.
- Market example: Walt Disney World’s customer satisfaction is out of this world. Disney invests in training and enabling all employees to be agents of customer service, from performers in the parade to workers in the main street shops. Take a page from Disney’s book — happy customers equal customer retention and recurring revenue.
2. Upskill or reskill workers to stay competitive in the market.
- Restaurants were hit hard in the pandemic. Today, many restaurants will attest to having to stay relevant and open in a challenging market. According to Forbes, more than 110,000 eating and drinking establishments closed in 2020 and the National Restaurant Association says nearly 2.5M restaurant jobs were erased.
- Wisetail impact: Bagel Brands L&D team reacted quickly to changing operational demands. Although they had to reduce the number of employees per location to remain open, its L&D jumped in to deliver training to upskill and reskill workers to take on new roles for smaller teams. The speed and agility in providing training and communications are attributed to their use of their Wisetail platform.
- Market example: Forward-thinking teams leveraged learning to stay relevant with initiatives that include changing service to curbside pickup, delivery, loyalty, programs, and strategic seating schedules. All of these programs were enabled by multi departmental buy-in and organizational flexibility, which is why partnering up is key.
Goal: Growth via Location, Markets, or Velocity
Fast growth can be exciting and scary all at the same time. If growth is a goal, begin by defining the type of growth to understand what is needed to accelerate the business towards the goal.
1. We need to launch X new locations in the next year.
- Rapid expansion depends upon repeatable, scalable, and consistent hiring, onboarding, and continued training. This process can get more complex if you are a franchise, depending on your geographical expansion and business model. Plan training programs that are consistently applicable without demanding additional resources with scale, and you’ll get buy-in across your organization.
2. We need to hire X new employees within X years.
- Start by training managers. Effective interview and hiring processes are the first steps towards rapid personnel expansion — and many organizations overlook it. In a rapid growth phase, you can start by developing programs that pair manager recruitment training and recruiters to maximize the talent search. It’s more expensive to hire the wrong people than to take a little longer and get it right the first time — quality over quantity is a real thing. Enable your leadership and management with the skills to find the right fit every time.
- Next, shore up your onboarding. Onboarding is the first real impression a new employee will have of your brand, culture, and expectations. You want to build a company of brand-loyal employees, but you also want to speed up time-to-productivity. Measure programs’ impact on time-to-productivity to be able to justify resources for training programs to support people strategies. Learn how to calculate time-to-productivity >
”Jamba cut its training time by 40% and saved $5.2M in labor costs with its new onboarding program.
Planning People Programs
There are several frameworks for planning and mapping learning and development programs. No matter what framework you use, be sure to ask the right questions, evaluate your processes, and gain the correct stakeholder buy-in. Creating learning personas will help you define your people programs. To do that, we’ve provided essential steps below:
Ultimate Program Planning Steps
- Define a target group of learners and their sponsors or stakeholders.
- Define the group’s needs, goals, and how they support the business.
- Determine KPIs and what success looks like for each group.
- Sample the group — create a survey or focus group to determine what really matters. How do they learn? What do they value? How can they learn in the flow of work? Can they learn from each other? What is their motivation?
- Outline — Pick your framework and outline your program.
- Review the outline with stakeholders, revise as needed.
- Complete the best testing approach: Decide > Do. Revise > Do. You want to go into the project with a clear, defined plan — and all you have to do is decide what, or how, you want to do something, do it, and then refine and do it again.