Fewer than one in 10 (7%) L&D professionals evaluate the impact their initiatives have on the rest of the business, according to new research from the CIPD.

The professional body for HR and people development’s annual L&D Survey reveals that most L&D professionals limit their focus to learner and manager feedback, potentially contributing to significant skills gaps going undetected in areas such as learning new technologies.

Ruth Stuart, L&D Research Adviser at the CIPD, said:

“It’s difficult to predict the ways in which L&D will evolve over the next few years, but there are a number of key tools we have which can help shape the future, and evaluation is one of them. It allows organisations to understand which L&D initiatives are working and which aren’t, so they can tailor activities accordingly and engineer people development to add the most value to individuals and the overall business.”

The survey shows that one in three (37%) organisations only measure the satisfaction levels of participants of L&D initiatives, with 45 percent of respondents saying that the most common barrier to evaluating other areas is “other business priorities”. Barriers within L&D and HR itself, such as the quality of analytical data (32%), and crucially the capability of L&D and HR to conduct evaluation (25%), were also voted as common obstacles.

Stuart added:

“Although most organisations are evaluating the majority of their L&D initiatives, they’re not going far enough and crucial measurements, such as whether L&D is affecting organisational productivity, remain unknown. With more and more L&D professionals reporting increased workloads and external pressures, we need to work smarter, not harder. We need to invest in our own analytical capability and use evaluation to identify skills gaps earlier on, so we can ultimately deploy effective L&D practice and encourage long-term, sustainable organisational growth.”