Seven Things Employees Want Most From Their Training

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1 RESEARCH REPORT Seven Things Employees Want Most From Their Training Executive Summary In 2013 we set out to discover what 1,001 office workers really think about training. Commissioning Opinion Matters, an independent research company, we investigated what value employees place on training giving them the chance to say what works, and what doesn t, from their perspective. Our findings highlight seven reasons why companies can t afford to ignore the gap between what employees want and what they receive in terms of development and advancement opportunities.

2 How to get training and development right When it comes to investing in learning and skills development for staff, it pays to understand what workers look for from the organisations that employ them. You might assume the vast majority of employees want just one thing more money, the reality is a little more complex. In a recent survey* of over 1,000 UK office workers, just over 40 percent of employees we spoke to told us their decision to move to a new company was influenced by the training and career development prospects on offer. In other words, if they can t envision a future within their current organisation, they ll look elsewhere. Building sustainable human capital into the organisational business model relies on getting training right, especially when the post-recession competition for top talent is hotting up. According to the CBI s Education and Skills Survey 2013, 39 percent of UK employers are struggling to recruit workers with the skills they need. So, finding and retaining capable workers is the name of the game. As our survey shows, when employees are able to access the training and development they want then everyone s a winner. Companies get workforces that are better prepared, more productive, highly motivated and ultimately more loyal. Meanwhile workers get the skills they need to perform well and an opportunity to pursue highly prized career aspirations with their current employer. 1. People are on a mission to improve themselves and do a better job Our study shows that people want to learn, and to carry on learning throughout their careers. They want to become better at their jobs, develop as people and build their careers and they see training as essential to achieving all of these goals. In fact our survey reveals that 70.9 percent of workers aged rate training as being essential for developing skills that directly relate to the job in hand. The same goes for 70.8 percent of senior managers aged 55 and over that we talked to. 70+% Essential for the job in hand. 70.9% of year olds rate training as essential for job-related skills. 70.8% of those 55+ agree. 2

3 So, whether you re just starting out or an established and experienced worker, training is universally viewed as important for ongoing skills development in the workplace. What s more, our research shows that employers who deliver the training and development opportunities their staff want and need, will reap significant rewards. Because when asked what motivates them in relation to training, almost two thirds (63 percent) of employees confirmed they d expect to use the skills they acquire to do their job better. Doing a better job. 63% of employees expect to use training to do their job better. Clearly training is highly valued as a must have by workers and companies need to harness the enthusiasm and commitment of staff who are obviously keen to learn and progress or risk letting their best employees slip through the net. 2. Workers vote with their feet if training needs aren t met Less than half of the year olds we surveyed (48 percent) felt their training needs were being met by their current employer, with a fifth (20 percent) of this age group working towards a professional qualification outside of work and at their own expense to further their careers. 48% Employer performance. 48% of year olds feel their training needs are being met by employer. Clearly, if businesses fail to invest early in supporting new and young talent in their career development they risk hastening the exit of potentially valuable members of staff and future leaders. That s an expensive leakage of skills, to say nothing of associated hiring costs that bite into the bottom line. So if your company is hiring in the talent it needs rather than developing its own, you need to be asking why. Because when it comes to employees deciding to leave a company, our research reveals that the lack of training and career development prospects is often a prime motivator. 3

4 This is especially true for those aged (53.6 percent) but it s just as relevant for those aged (47.2 percent) as well as those in the years age bracket (39 percent). What s more, around a third (30.7%) of senior business leaders aged 55 and over confirmed that better workplace training and development opportunities would be all the incentive they needed to make a move. Incentive to move. 53.6% of year olds would leave a company for workplace training and development. 47.2% of year olds, 39% of those aged and one third (30.7%) of senior business leaders age 55+ The message is clear: companies that fail to provide accessible development options risk losing valuable human assets and expertise from all levels of the organisation at every stage of the game. 3. Training boosts staff motivation and retention Part of the problem is that investing in training is often viewed as a double-edged sword, with employers asking why they should train staff only for them to leave and take that expertise to a competitor. But while our study confirms that employees are not looking for a job for life anymore - 44 percent of employees said they expect to move jobs within two to five years it also reveals they are committed to extending their tenure with companies that give them the opportunity to undertake new roles and acquire new work experiences. This is perhaps why over three-quarters (78.9 percent) of survey participants confirmed they see training as a means to expanding their career options and opportunities, with just over 60 percent looking to employ their newfound skills with their current employer. Almost 50 percent of employees aged are looking to stay with their present company for up to five years. In other words, they re looking to employers to support a long term career path that enables them to build a portfolio career within their organisation. With almost 50 percent of employees aged looking to stay with their present company for up to five years, and the almost 20 percent of employees with expectations of staying with their firm for six to eight years, investing to ensure these individuals are engaged and happy to stay put and develop depends on giving them access to the development they need % 6 50% 3 Not wasted. Almost 50% of year olds expect to stay at their present company for up to 5 years. 20% expect to stay 6-8 years. 4

5 4. Workers want to achieve personal development goals For employees who indicated that education and career growth were what they wanted most from their company, access to development opportunities is important. But when companies fail to provide training programmes that satisfy this appetite, staff will selfinvest in their own development - with a view to moving on once they ve acquired the skills or qualifications they need. The workers we surveyed demonstrated an impressive commitment to supplementing their skills to achieve career and personal development goals with or without the support of their employers. While 10.3 percent of employees were working towards a professional qualification outside of work with the full support of their company, a further 10.8 percent were doing this without any input from their employers. And an additional 18 percent of workers confirmed they were learning a new skill in their own time, using their own resources in order to further their career. 20% 10.3% 10.8% 18% Going it alone. A fifth (20%) seeking professional qualifications outside of work. 10.3% do this with their company s support, 10.8% without. Additional 18% are learning a new skill in their own time. 5. Employees expect lifelong workplace training It goes without saying that organisations need well-trained workers, and that education and training needs vary at different points of the career trajectory. The traditional training investment highpoints usually occur around those employees starting out in their careers, among the newly promoted, career break returners and senior managers. Workers who participated in the survey were adamant that while these demand peaks are important, consistent access to training is a good thing. The pace of change in the workplace means employee skill needs are constantly evolving. This accounts for why over two thirds (68.2 percent) of respondents confirmed that, in their view, access to training in the workplace is always relevant regardless of the seniority of your role or where you are on your career pathway. A company that is well equipped to deliver workplace learning will equip its people to cope with fast changing workplace environments, maximise staff potential and boost employee job satisfaction. 5

6 6. Critical skill needs are changing In a world where highly skilled knowledge workers form fluid virtual teams dedicated to problem solving and operational innovation, it s essential to ensure employees are well equipped to handle new workplace trends. Increasingly teams are expected to work with colleagues, suppliers and customers across national and international boundaries, seamlessly connected by the latest technologies that deliver today s anything, anytime, anywhere world of work. Managers of the future need to be trained in how to manage remote and virtual teams while building new skills in areas such as self-management and coping with new working cultures. When asked which skills they consider most essential to success in the workplace, the list produced by employees was heavily skewed towards the personal and behavioural. While few questioned the need to develop their technical or job-specific competences, almost all confirmed that these need to be supplemented with essential soft skills. These include acquiring interpersonal and communication skills appropriate to the realities of face-to-face video-conferencing, while a skill like time management is viewed as increasingly important for coping with the increasingly blurred boundaries between home and work in today s 24x7 connected workplace. 7. Workers want training that works with their individual learning style Learning through an interactive hands-on experience has overtaken a classroom-style approach as the top way to learn. One-third (33 percent) of survey participants preferred to learn by feeling or experiencing, compared to just under one fifth (19 percent) of those favouring a classroom approach. Meanwhile, just over 17 percent admitted to being visual learners who learn best by looking at graphics, watching demonstrations or reading. 33% 19% 17% 25% Interactive beats classroom style. One third (33%) prefer to learn by feeling or experiencing. A fifth (19%) favour classroom, 17% are visual learners. A quarter are happy to undertake courses in their own time, outside of office hours. 6

7 Clearly, the way learning is delivered and consumed needs to change to reflect evolving employee and business needs. And respondents were clear they still value face-to-face interactions and that learning in isolation which typifies much of the remote log on and go it alone self-paced elearning options they encounter is not an option. Our research shows clear differences between learning styles as a whole. While some welcome the opportunity to learn from the experiences of their peers and the opportunity to discuss learning, others prefer a more self-paced approach supported by mentoring. With a quarter of respondents confirming they d be happy to undertake courses in their own time, outside of office hours when there s less work distraction, the time and place training is delivered is changing too. Resolving this challenge requires companies to take a blended approach to learning, using different platforms classroom-based sessions, elearning and mobile learning within their training programmes to ensure that learning is accessible and engaging for all staff. Closing the gap Everyone needs to feel they are valued by the organisation they work for and, as we ve seen, training is viewed by workers as a serious expression of their worth. Our research shows that investing in people development is a powerful way to empower workers in their current role, support them in their career aspirations and ultimately keep employees for longer. In a world where key skills are likely to become more scarce retaining talented individuals in the prime of their working lives maximises overall organisational value. When it comes to closing the gap between what workers want and what they receive in terms of development and advancement opportunities, our research shows that current training programmes don t always meet this need. What s more, just as the content of training sessions needs to evolve to keep up with industry best practice and new technologies, so too does the method used to deliver it to make it valuable and digestible to learners. 7

8 Skillsoft is a pioneer in the field of learning with a long history of innovation. Skillsoft provides cloud based learning solutions for its customers worldwide, ranging from global enterprises, government, and education to mid-sized and small businesses. Skillsoft s customer support teams draw on a wealth of in-house experience and a comprehensive learning e-library to develop off-the-shelf and custom learning programs tailored to cost-effectively meet customer needs. Skillsoft s courses, books and videos have been developed by industry leading learning experts to ensure that they maximise business skills, performance, and talent development. Skillsoft currently serves over 6,000 customers and more than 19,000,000 learners around the world. Skillsoft is on the web at For more information or to learn more, call +44 (0) or visit Skillsoft EMEA Headquarters Compass House, 2nd Floor, London Road, Camberley, Surrey, GU15 3EY, UK Tel: +44 (0) Fax: +44 (0)

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