L&D’s effectiveness slammed in new study

by John Hilton13 Nov 2015
L&D professionals generally have a long way to go in terms of improving business productivity, according to a new survey.

The 2015 Towards Maturity Benchmark Study research found that just three out of 10 organisations are achieving improved productivity and engagement from their L&D initiatives.

Moreover, only two out of 10 have seen improvements in the learning culture of the organisation and four out of 10 are achieving increased efficiency as a consequence of their training strategies.

The survey comprised data by more than 600 L&D professionals in 55 countries and inputs from 1,600 learners.

However, even though the study suggests that L&D teams globally are typically not having a major impact on organisational and individual performance, L&D is working very effectively in some organisations.

Their approach typically involved moving away from the delivery of courses to embracing new ways of supporting learning and performance in the heart of the workplace.

In particular, the report has discovered that L&D teams of organisations in the top 10% of the study have clear working partnerships with the line of business, according to Laura Overton, Managing Director of Towards Maturity.

“Compared to the average, they are twice as likely to identify key performance measures that are important to the business and to have a plan in place to meet those goals,” she was quoted as saying in the Training Journal.

“Their management teams are twice as likely to assign board level accountability for learning and 90% expect managers to take responsibility for the learning of their staff.

“This close working relationship means that L&D are in a position to apply innovative solutions that deliver an appreciable contribution to the bottom line.”

Overton also added that the top performing organisations are embracing change throughout their business.

David Boud, Emeritus Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney, told L&D Professional he thinks the really successful L&D practitioners are “enormously responsive”.   

“They realise that the things they used to solve the problem last week may not work the same way this week,” he said.

“Their model works in one situation, but not another.”

Moreover, the survey indicated that 86% of the top performing learning teams report they are proactive in understanding how their learners learn, compared to 30% on average. Another 76% involve staff up front in learning design, as opposed to the 35% average.

It also found that the key challenge for L&D professionals in Australia is a lack of management buy-in to L&D.