Gradually, as a company hits a certain size, HR processes begin to fail to scale. There’s no longer enough time for one-on-one meetings, you’re drowning in paper, and you simply can’t keep track of everything. It gets hard to assess where happiness and engagement stand within your workforce. One of the major areas that suffers the most is your learning program.

For learning to succeed, it has to be dynamic. Employees need the ability to give feedback about the program and its courses, and the organization needs to incorporate that feedback in order to ensure that it is providing talent with information that is timely, relevant, and cutting edge. When organizations grow in size, they often outgrow the feedback process they have in place. The result is a learning program—and a business—that doesn’t adapt. Employees can feel unchallenged and set up to fail. Businesses can fall behind real market trends and lose much-needed talent.

The best way to meet the need for a dynamic, relevant learning program is to leverage data.

The importance of real-time data

Collecting and analyzing data empowers organizations to understand what resources the entire staff needs moving forward, including special considerations for different departments, tenure, and geographies. Armed with data, HR departments can roll out relevant content that is specifically relevant to the individual or the team—the learning program for a new hire should be different than that of a seasoned company veteran.

For example, many organizations collect and use real-time data by surveying employees to see where happiness and engagement levels stand. Let’s say the results indicated that employees don’t feel that the leaders within the organization support them enough; HR can then turn to their training programs and update the content for leaders, such as integrating information about being a more effective manager.

Here are a few tips for using real-time data to create effective learning content:

  • Poll employees in the moment, during the training and learning processes, not after.
  • Target questions to specific groups in an effort to determine the root of the problem. Otherwise, you may think that this is a systemic organizational problem when it’s really just limited to one group.
  • Create exams within your system to evaluate employee competency; set minimum passing scores and maximum exam attempts. This is exceptionally helpful when introducing new products or initiatives.
  • Further ensure content accuracy by proactively and frequently tracking what employees are doing, and how they’re faring. What’s causing reduced sales? Are all of your employees failing one question in particular on an exam? Are your employees happy?
  • Find gaps—or sore spots—within the organization by examining turnover numbers and the time it takes to get new hires up to speed.

Learning management system (LMS)—worth the spend

The most innovative companies start gathering data and setting metrics early. One effective step to developing a learning program built on data is implementing talent management software. In fact, according to Bersin & Associates, the market for this technology grew around 20 percent in 2012. With an expected $1.8 – 1.9 billion to be spent globally on learning management systems in 2013, companies are seeing the benefits. When it comes to training, development, compliance management, or all three—every organization can benefit from an LMS.

Utilizing an LMS not only streamlines processes and helps companies remain compliant and organized, it also seamlessly gathers useful employee and organizational data. In order to invigorate and maintain a happy workforce, HR leaders must use this data to strategically implement relevant learning content. If done accurately, HR can create unique, impactful learning programs that inspire employees, increase morale, and maintain engagement. It also enables HR to understand what sort of learning metrics to put into place, and how to use data-gathering mechanisms to show those metrics up front.

If your department isn’t investing now, your learning program is already behind.