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Unlocking the Value of Learning, proving L&D’s worth to the wider business: Insights from the World of Learning Event, October 2023

The World of Learning event in October 2023 was a pivotal gathering of learning professionals, and experts looking for answers on the ever-pressing issue - the frustration surrounding the inability to present a Return on Investment (ROI) for learning initiatives.  



With over £0.5 billion spent on learning provision annually in the UK, it's clear that there's a significant gap between the resources invested and the perceived value received. World of Learning revealed some eye-opening insights, suggesting that our approach to learning and development might need a fundamental shift. 


The ROI Challenge: A Half-Billion Pound Question 

Frustration has been brewing among CFOs and financial decision-makers who can't clearly see the value in the vast sums invested in learning and development programs. A mere 12% of employees claim to apply what they've learned to their roles, presenting a case that most of this substantial budget might be going to waste. It's a critical concern, as inefficient spending on learning initiatives, with an inability to prove value, fails to improve workforce skills and misallocates resources that could be utilized more effectively elsewhere. 


Undervalued Expertise: A Waste of Potential 

One of the most sobering findings was that when 1200 experts were asked how much of their potential value they believed they were providing, none claimed to be delivering more than 40%. This highlights the vast pool of skills and talent left untapped within organizations. It's clear that experts are being undervalued and underinvested, leading to a significant loss of potential and a lack of motivation. 


Leadership Everywhere: A Paradigm Shift 


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The event underscored the notion that leadership is not merely a function of hierarchy but also a matter of how individuals think and behave. The concept of distributed and network leadership emerged as a solution to the problem of undervalued experts. The message was clear: everyone should take accountability and responsibility for their actions and impact, rather than simply existing within their roles. In essence, every expert should aspire to be a leader in their domain. 


The Path Forward: Transforming Learning and Development 

To address these issues and bring more value to learning and development, the event offered a set of transformative insights: 


  1. Invest in Developing High-Performance Behaviors: Rather than just focusing on knowledge transfer, organizations should prioritize developing high-performance behaviors. This can ensure that employees apply what they've learned effectively in their roles.
  2. Create and Nurture Networks and Communities: Building networks and communities of experts fosters collaboration, knowledge sharing, and support. This approach helps break down silos and enhances the overall expertise of the organization.
  3. Build and Implement Bespoke Career Paths: Organizations should create career paths tailored to the needs and ambitions of their experts. This will give them a sense of direction, purpose, and motivation.
  4. Utilize a Results Strategy: Learning and development must be linked to tangible business outcomes. The following four key steps are crucial:
  • Identify high-level, high-value objectives connected to business goals.
  • Connect these objectives to specific business outcomes, such as increased employee retention through improved engagement.
  • Apply metrics to these objectives, ensuring they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART).
  • Implement solutions leveraging available resources, technology, and assets to benchmark, measure, and track to help you communicate back to the wider organization on the value and progress. 


The Critical Role of Learning Strategy 

At the core of these insights is helping stakeholders outside of HR to understand that learning and development are critical to an organization's success. A staggering 71% of the experts recognized that a well-crafted learning strategy is pivotal for achieving organizational objectives. The challenge, however, is to prove the ROI of these initiatives. 


The World of Learning event in October 2023 highlighted a critical issue in the realm of learning and development. It's not just about the amount of money invested, but about the way we approach it. By shifting the focus from knowledge transfer to high-performance behaviors, embracing distributed leadership, and aligning learning strategies with tangible business outcomes, organizations can bridge the gap between investment and value. In doing so, they can harness the vast potential of their experts and ensure that learning initiatives are indeed an investment that pays off. 


Rise Up's LearningOps Consultant-Led Service; is here to help! A Solution to Prove ROI 

In the quest to connect learning initiatives to business outcomes and prove ROI, organizations can turn to Rise Up's LearningOps Consultant-Led Service. Rise Up's comprehensive approach, as detailed here, provides a structured framework for aligning learning strategies with high-level business objectives. By collaborating with our experienced learning professionals, organizations can identify the right objectives, connect them to specific business outcomes, apply measurable metrics, and devise solutions that make the most of available resources and technology. This approach ensures that learning and development efforts are purposeful and results-driven, enabling organizations to demonstrate the tangible value of their learning initiatives and achieve the right goals, which can ultimately enhance their overall performance and success. 


Want to carry on your learning from WoL? Download our guide here! 


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