Employee development and training: What your employees crave and why

As organizations grapple with hiring and retention in the wake of the pandemic, the spotlight has been placed on employee training and development more than ever before. Leaders now recognize the positive impact of effective workplace training on employee retention, satisfaction, and productivity. With 75% of learners reporting that strong workplace training programs have a high impact on their decision to stay with an employer and 65% observing increased productivity, the stats speak for themselves.

Pie chart displaying 75% of learners say strong workplace training would have a very high impact on their decision to stay with an employer

However, though well-intentioned, many employee training and development programs are misaligned to learners’ wants and needs. A recent Emergn survey reported that significantly more leaders than learners believe their workplace training programs are effective. Still, both leaders and learners recognize the need for improvement, with less than a third of both groups describing their training programs as extremely effective. 

There is clearly a disconnect between leaders and learners. Leadership offers training that they think learners need and want but may not have direct input from learners. 

So, we spoke with learners to find out what they really want and need from their workplace training programs, and how employers can help satisfy these desires.

What are learners’ goals of engaging in employee development and training?

When asked what they most want to achieve from workplace training, an overwhelming majority of learners stated they want to gain new skills. Improving confidence in their current role followed close behind. Notably, less than 20% of learners stated that their goal of engaging in training was to get a new job at another organization – a reason often cited by opponents of investing in training.

Speak to employees directly about their learning goals. Survey your employees before crafting your learning strategy and curriculum and cater it to their goals. Collect feedback throughout and at the conclusion of training to adjust strategy for the next iteration of training. Not only does aligning strategy to learner goals increase employee satisfaction, but it also has a substantial impact on levels of participation.

What do employees want to learn?

Learners reported that their biggest priorities were learning industry-specific and communication skills, whereas leaders prioritized training technology-specific skills. 

However, learners reported a wide array of topics they sought training in. No learner is the same. To deliver training most effectively, leaders should shy away from a one-size-fits-all approach, and instead consider the individual’s professional development goals.

How do employees want to learn?

A training program is only as effective as its delivery – and our research shows the biggest obstacle to delivering training is carving out the time for employees to participate. In fact, 42% of learners reported lack of time to be their largest barrier to engaging in learning programs. 

To address this issue, leaders should consider different learning formats, including:

  • Micro-lessons: short, straight-to-the-point lessons that allow learners to engage in programs in small increments, rather than dedicating hours or days at a time to training. 
  • Blended learning: a combination of online and in-person training, blended learning allows flexibility for learners, and only requires in-person participation for activities that truly benefit from it. 
  • Work-based learning: rather than delivering training separately from the individual’s workload, work-based training enables employees to learn and immediately apply newly-acquired skills and lessons to real work, without interrupting day-to-day responsibilities and apply training while they work, without halting progress or interrupting day-to-day responsibilities.

Every organization is different, so there is no “one answer” when it comes to methods of delivering learning. Experimenting with different formats, collecting frequent feedback, and speaking with learners is the best way to build an impactful training program for your employees and your business.

Learn how Emergn’s work-based learning programs and pathways  not only meet employees learning expectations, but also deliver measurable outcomes on your organizations business performance.