Demonstrating eLearning ROI: 3 tips to get the board's buy-in

Adriann Haney | 04/02/2013

Learning leaders have managed to develop finely honed arguments that convince co-workers of training's value right across the workforce, yet when it comes to making a strong case for more budget at board level, L&D's success rate remains pitifully low.

Phillips ROI Institute and McKinsey are just two leading industry watchers to highlight the problem: major boards just don't get the point when L&D tries to make its business case to them.  Why? Well, according to the L&D experts we hear from, the hard-nosed business characters who dominate the boardroom are much better talkers than they are listeners: they like their numbers fast and their pitches elevator style.  L&D experts on the other hand, tend to talk the long game: it's all "people development" and "knowledge sharing" where board executives want to hear about eLearning ROI, savings and efficiencies.

None of this would matter if the board execs in our top finance and insurance companies didn't sign off the budgets for these pesky "people development" and "knowledge sharing" programmes we want to implement, but they do. So when it comes to getting buy-in from the board, knowing a little hard talk can make all the difference.

We need to toughen up the training talk. We need to use vocabulary boards understand. We need to recast training’s place in the finance and insurance sector and we need to better connect the “urgent” problems that obsess top executives with the training solutions we’re expertly equipped to deliver.

Human Resources must change their value proposition from being the cultural steward of the corporation to an integral component of the corporate strategy of the future.  There are three fundamental arguments L&D must articulate better before the executive teams they need to influence really start listening.

Not sure you’re getting the ROI in training message over to the top finance and insurance directors who sign off your training budget? Here are our top three tips for achieving buy-in from the board.

  1. Training delivers ROI

    Designing, implementing, delivering and measuring training and development programs is no longer a luxury granted during company growth periods.

    Successful companies spend an average of $1,200 per employee each year on training. Viewed from a monthly expenditure perspective, spending $100 per month for each employee that will substantially increase the probability of your company remaining and regaining a leadership position is money well spent under any business condition.
  2. Intellectual capital is the new currency

    Training & development increases employee intellectual capital. Throughout the recruiting and selection process employee development programs have become the exotic financial products that actually sell companies to the very best candidates. The brightest and most creative prospective employees demand robust and integrated corporate-wide training and development programs. These high performers are serious about their professional development and they possess little loyalty to the company unless they see their career progression options presented to them. Fail to integrate a culture of ongoing professional development and even the most profitable finance and insurance companies risk losing their greatest assets.
  3. Time is money

    Today’s financial decisions are made at fiber-optic broadband speed. Being first to market with the right products and services requires a nimble and creative workforce that relishes challenge and change instead of being paralyzed by it.

    True leaders strive to capture the hearts and minds of their employees not only because it is the right thing to do but because it produces better, more stable, corporate earnings and profitability.

In finance and insurance, making the right decision is important, but  making the right decision faster than your competitors is urgent.  Providing a learning framework that supports decision making at pace puts training and development concepts like knowledge transfer, social learning and personal development in the tough language that boards understand.