6 Learning & Development Metrics That Your CEO Will Care About

July 18, 2016

One of the biggest obstacles preventing learning and development departments from getting more budget – and, frankly, more of a voice within an organization – is that company leaders question their ROI.

Unlike sales or marketing, for example, it’s harder to tie learning and development directly to a profit-and-loss statement. But it isn’t impossible – it just requires showing company leaders the right metrics.

So what are the learning and development metrics your organization’s president or CEO is going to care about? The metrics that will get their attention and ensure you get the funding and voice needed to build a great learning program?

Well, there are six that stand out:

1. The usage of the learning and development program.

Candidly, this is probably the least compelling on the list. It’s also the easiest one to track, which is probably why it is the most commonly tracked.

That said, obviously your CEO is going to be interested in how many people are participating in your learning and development program, which the company is spending money to fund. You want a lot of your people to take the courses you offer them.

That said, employees taking courses is an action within your learning program, but not the end result. The remaining five metrics are all about the result of employees taking those courses.

2. How quickly your new hires become productive.

Okay, now we are getting to metrics that have real impact on the bottom line. The faster you can get new hires up-to-speed and producing, obviously the better for the business. And learning and development plays an essential role here onboarding new hires.

This is easier to track for some positions than it is for others. For example, customer service might be easy to track, as once a person can handle customers on their own, they are fully onboarded. Conversely, for a more nebulous position like product marketer, it might be harder to track when the person is fully up-to-speed. Your best bet is to work with managers to figure out a reliable metric here.

Either way, if you can start tying your development program to new hires becoming productive sooner, you are going to get the attention of your CEO.

3. The retention rate of employees who participate in your voluntary learning program.

One of the key reasons organizations invest in learning and development programs is they want to keep their employees motivated and engaged. So, you should absolutely measure the retention rate within your company; comparing people who participate in your voluntary learning programs to everyone else.

The point here is, if the results show employees are far more likely to stay with your organization if they participate in your learning program, you have a compelling story to tell your CEO. Conversely, if retention is actually lower among employees who participate in your learning program – well, then it is probably time to rethink your program.

4. The percentage of managerial and senior positions you’ve been able to promote from within.

Along the lines of the last point, one of the chief outcomes of your learning and development program should be up-skilling your workforce, so they can fill managerial and senior roles when they open up. There’s good reason for that, as internal candidates are far cheaper to recruit and tend to perform better than external candidates, so it helps your business win.

To tie this directly to your learning program, it’s worth tracking who the people are that are being promoted internally. Hopefully, there is a disproportionate percentage of people who have participated in your learning program being promoted (if not, it’s a sign you need to revisit your learning program).

This data is going to have real meaning to your CEO. Additional bonus – it also is a compelling argument for more employees to participate in your learning program, as it means it’ll increase their chances of getting promoted.

5. The money you spend on outside consultants.

The more robust your learning program is, the less your company should have to spend on outside consultants.


Your employees should be able to learn those skills from within through your learning program, rather than bringing in an outside expert. And not only does that save your company money, it also saves time, as hiring and onboarding a consultant is a burdensome process. And that should make your CEO very happy.

6. The number of help desk tickets.

A part of any learning program is explaining to employees how to use the tools they need to do their job. This becomes particularly important when those tools change or are upgraded, such as going from one scheduling system to another.

If your learning program is working well, people should learn these tools quickly through your training, which should drastically cut down on the amount of support tickets your IT team will receive. Not only does this save time and money on the IT front, it also keeps the rest of your employees productive, instead of losing time on tech-related issues.

So look at the amount of tickets your IT help desk gets, along with what’s normal for a company of your type, and see if you can make improvements. Your CEO will be interested in the outcome.

The takeaway

The point here is that your company’s leaders care first-and-foremost about the health of their business and fixing business problems. The best way to get their attention is to provide metrics that show how your learning program helps the business overall and avoids expensive problems.

If you can do that, you’ll start getting a bigger budget for your program and more of a voice within your company. And those two things are essential to building a truly transformative learning program.

*Image from The Godfather