Despite high aspirations to make an impact on the business, the latest Towards Maturity research shows most L&D teams are failing to find success.

The 2015 Towards Maturity benchmark makes for sober reading:

  • Only three out of 10 organisations are achieving improved productivity and engagement from their L&D initiatives.
  • Only two out of 10 have seen improvements in the learning culture of the organisation.
  • Only four out of 10 are achieving increased efficiency as a result of their training strategies.

So despite the desire from L&D teams to provide services that will have a significant impact on business agility, along with organisational and individual performance, this is not happening for most.

There is some good news, however, as the top performers – in the top 10% of Towards Maturity’s study – are having a big impact on both business and individual performance. These top deck organisations report improvements in productivity (12%), employee engagement (21%) and reduction in costs (16%).

So what can the majority learn from the few? Well the top performer’s approach to learning is fundamentally different, moving away from the delivery of courses to finding new ways of supporting learning and performance in the heart of the workplace.Towards Maturity Report 2015

The majority of top organisations (94%) consider the course to be just one option for building skills (53% average). While 86% adopt approaches that support learning in the flow of work (compared to the 47% average).

The report includes data provided by more than 600 L&D professionals in 55 countries, with inputs from 1,600 learners. Thanks to the support of Towards Maturity’s Ambassadors – including the Charity Learning Consortium and Corporate eLearning Consortium – annual benchmarking findings, case studies and resources are available to download for free at:

The 2015 Benchmark Report is crammed with statistics and analysis, here are some more key facts:

  • 55% of training programmes are now offered entirely face-to-face
  • 19% of all training budgets is spent on learning technologies
  • Although 90% of organisations now use eLearning content and 86% of organisations use live online learning, only 79% of organisations use learning management systems.
  • 67% use mobile learning, 68% use best practice videos
  • 27% provide micro content (under 10 minutes), 29% provide online job aids
  • Top Barriers to change as reported by L&D leaders are:
    • 63% – cost of set up , development and maintenance
    • 63% – lack of skills by staff to manage their own learning
    • 60% – unreliable bandwidth/infrastructure
    • 56% – lack of L&D skills

Laura OvertonLaura Overton, Managing Director of Towards Maturity, commented,

“This year’s Benchmark Report has discovered that L&D teams of Top Deck learning organisations have clear working partnerships with the line of business. Compared to the average, they are twice as likely to identify key performance measures that are important to the business and to have a plan in place to meet those goals. Their management teams are twice as likely to assign board level accountability for learning and 90% expect managers to take responsibility for the learning of their staff. This close working partnership means that L&D are in a position to apply innovative solutions that deliver an appreciable contribution to the bottom line.’’

Top Deck Learning teams are not only working in meaningful ways with business leaders, they are also have a consumer driven approach to supporting staff with 86% of Top Deck learning teams reporting they are proactive in understanding how their learners learn (30% on average), 76% involving staff up front in learning design (35% average).

Commenting in the Foreword of this report, Dave Buglass, Head of Organisational Capability and Development at Tesco Bank, said,

“When it comes to supporting staff, out of all the functions in HR, L&D has the potential to be the most consumer-centric, but when seven out of 10 do not even know how their staff learn what they need to do their jobs today, we are clearly missing an opportunity.”

The Report also explores the new skills required by today’s L&D teams if they are to exploit the opportunities available. These include: marketing and stakeholder management; learning analytics; digital content creation; and facilitating collaboration. The Top Deck organisations are twice as likely to have these skills in place today. However, whilst 77% of Top Deck organisations are investing in Continued Professional Development for L&D staff, one in four of the participants overall do not know how their L&D staff are building the new skills that they need.

“There’s evidence, from the report, that top performing organisations are embracing change throughout the business and are realising their vision of the future, providing a direction for others to follow,” said Laura. “They are recognising that a consumer-focused, technology-enabled learning strategy builds business performance and employee engagement.”

“In the face of these – and other – challenges, many L&D professionals appear to be shy of using data and evidence to inform their decisions,” Laura said. “Currently, only 16 per cent of L&D practitioners are using learning analytics to improve the service they offer – and only ten per cent actively use benchmarking as a performance improvement tool.”

“Yet 84 per cent of those who’ve benchmarked this year have found new ideas to take their strategy forward,” she added. “So L&D professionals who share some of the high expectations and frustrations of their peers could benefit by using the Towards Maturity Benchmark to help stimulate fresh ideas – and improve their corporate standing and effectiveness.”