Calculating meaningful ROI for workplace learning

October 28, 2019 | by: Dasslin Corral

Today, learning and development has become a business-critical priority for increasing skills, improving the leadership pipeline, and enhancing employee engagement.

Across different industries, having a L&D strategy is very crucial in finding the right talents for the organization, especially in the era of digital transformation. And there is no doubt that investments on new technology costs a huge amount of money. 

In fact, the US and Europe life sciences companies has been spending hundreds of billions of dollars measuring the return on financial assets of their technology investment in human resources alone.

However, though many companies continue to pump money into L&D programs (up to $1,296 per employee in 2017), CEOs and even CHROs still are not aware whether their programs are working as the impact of the training is not quantified. Further, one McKinsey study found that a mere 8 percent of organizations actually evaluate the value of their L&D initiatives by tracking Return On Investments (ROI). 

As the learning market undergoes such digital transformation, life sciences companies are reinventing their current learning environment through implementation of a new vision to build a corporate learning experience that touches every employee in a significant way.

And so prior to calculating the ROI of L&D investments, let’s take a look at how some of the top life sciences companies implement a technology-based learning in their organizations.

Johnson & Johnson’s eUniversity

The multinational medical device company, Johnson & Johnson spent $2.6 million on L&D investment opportunities for their employees worldwide through their centralized eLearning initiative, which utilizes the new technology (i.e. big data and AI). Their system includes learning strategies that aligns individual’s needs to the organization’s mission in ways that are meaningful to both. 

Parexel International’s LMS

Global pharmaceutical company, Parexel allots a huge annual budget of $10 million on their digital L&D programs with utilization of learning management systems (LMS) focusing more on meaningful conversations with employees and less on ratings. 

Novartis’ virtual learning programs

Novartis, on the other hand, is providing more vocational training for all associates through their partnership with Coursera. Currently, all of their employees have the opportunity for virtual learning from 190 universities worldwide. Further, all Novartis employees can now access 14,500 video based programs of LinkedIn Learning essential in improving their digital capability and personal effectiveness.  

Redefining the value of learning, it’s more than the ROI 

Learning professionals know that proving the value of L&D is essential to keeping and increasing the resources at their disposal. 

A simple ROI calculation takes the (monetary) cost of the L&D program from the (measurable, monetary) increase in learners’ on-the-job performance once they have completed it, and expresses this figure as a percentage of the cost. 

Any L&D program can be said to have merit if the ROI isn’t in “minus territory.” Yet there’s a lot more to “value” than mere money. At its heart, the return on investment in learning and development is more than just the numbers and figures – it is about employee engagement.

If a company’s objectives revolve around participation in training, or positive learner evaluations, proving ROI in financial terms verges on the impossible. The added value that learning provides to business can only be solidly proven in the application of knowledge, skills, or re-engagement on the job.

Thus, the most important return on investment in L&D is growth and development of talents.