For all of the time and resources dedicated to building and delivering learning programs — plus the time asked of employees to engage with learning — organizations don’t seem to be expecting much in return. Most companies decided that the outcome for learning is learning, and as such, programs can be measured in completion rates and hours delivered.

This approach has always been very shortsighted. It makes the huge assumption that the learning program is effective by definition and all we need to know is whether or not people completed it and can pass an assessment of some sort. In this environment, learning is completely divorced from individual and organizational performance.

But performance is precisely what learning is about. It is the ultimate measurement of whether learning is helping the business. Are programs changing the behaviors that influence individual and organizational performance goals?

Brandon Hall Group’s Learning and Performance Study found that fewer than one-third of companies say their talent development objectives are strongly or completely tied to learning objectives. This means that for the rest, there is little connection between how learners are supposed to demonstrate mastery of skills and competencies and the learning programs designed to improve them. 

Brandon Hall Group’s State of Learning Practices Study found that about three-quarters of companies have made creating a stronger link between learning and performance the top priority for learning. Clearly, this is the right direction but what does it take to make it so? One of the key elements is a learning ecosystem that drives continuous learning by making learning stickier and more applicable on the job. It can change the way employees view learning — from an intrusion to a critical tool for their performance.

To successfully drive performance, learning solutions must be designed with distinct phases: knowledge acquisition, practice and application. Each phase is just as important as the others and should consist of multiple delivery methods and modalities. By building programs that are composed of these multiple components, companies can guide their learners through a journey from acquiring new information, to practicing what they have learned, to gradually higher-stakes real-world situations in which the newly acquired skills can be applied.

Brandon Hall Group Smartchoice Preferred Provider EI Design developed a framework for building a Learning and Performance Ecosystem. Their integrated approach to learning and performance is designed with the learners’ needs in mind and always driven by key outcomes — for individuals and the business. This sets the proper foundation with a focus on the right metrics. EI Design then helps their clients choose the right evaluation model to measure impact. The goal is to take a holistic approach and drive performance and behavior change via several key considerations:

  • Awareness. Learners must be familiar with the ecosystem’s elements and available resources. If there is any friction in using it, it will never be leveraged to its potential.
  • Immersion. Learning activities such as scenarios and problem-solving make the learning more engaging and relatable to the job.
  • Access. Learners should be able to quickly find and use what they need when they need it.
  • Reinforcement. Giving learners opportunities to revisit material and verify its value to the job provides reinforcement and improves retention.
  • Self-direction. When employees discover information and share it with peers, they become more engaged in the learning.
  • Evaluation. Track how much and how well the learning is used on the job to determine what works and what may need to change.
  • Iteration. Use evaluation results to incrementally improve learning when opportunities arise. This approach allows learning to shift with the business.

To learn more about EI Design’s Learning and performance ecosystem, please take a look at their eBook: Getting Ahead of the Curve – Futureproofing Corporate Training With Learning And Performance Consulting

David Wentworth, Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

 About Brandon Hall Group Inc. 

Brandon Hall Group is the only professional development company that offers data, research, insights and certification to Learning and Talent executives and organizations. The best minds in Human Capital Management (HCM) choose Brandon Hall Group to help them create future-proof employee development plans for the new era. For over 28 years, we have empowered, recognized and certified excellence in organizations around the world influencing the development of over 10,000,000 employees and executives. Our HCM Excellence Awards was the first to recognize organizations for learning and talent and is the gold standard, known as the “Academy Awards of Human Capital Management.” Our cloud-based platform delivers evidence-based insights in the areas of Learning and Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Diversity and Inclusion, Talent Acquisition and HR/Workforce Management for corporate organizations and HCM solution providers. To learn more, visit For information on Brandon Hall Group’s research and how we can assist your organization, please visit

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David Wentworth

David Wentworth has been a senior research analyst in the human capital field since 2005 and joined the Brandon Hall Group in 2013. He has authored reports and articles on various human capital subjects with an emphasis on workforce technology. He has contributed to several reports published by ASTD, including authoring Mobile Learning: Learning in the Palm of Your Hand, The Rise of Social Media: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity Across Generations, and Instructional Systems Design Today and in the Future. His work has also appeared in Compensation & Benefits Review and T+D Magazine.