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Survey Shows Disconnect When It Comes to Employee Development

Andrew Martins
Andrew Martins

Employers say their employee development plans are effective, but employees disagree.

  • Nearly 100% of responding employers said they offer employee development tools, but only 26% of employees said those tools work well.
  • About 77% of respondents said they felt alone in their career development process.
  • A third of respondents (34%) said they have left a job in the past because they wanted more career development opportunities.

Regardless of the industry, most jobs require workers to learn new skills and keep up with the times. Although employers believe they offer tools to help their employees do just that, a newly released study suggests they're failing their employees.

According to a national survey of 310 employers and 1,400 full-time employees, conducted by The Harris Poll for Instructure, roughly 70% of U.S. workers said they were at least "somewhat likely to leave their current company" to work somewhere with a bigger focus on employee learning.

"Today's workforce has options, and people are clear about the fact that they want to work for companies that will invest in their careers," said Mitch Benson, senior vice president of product at Instructure.

Workers and employers have differing perspectives on development opportunities.

When it comes to how employees and employers view their current development and learning options, researchers found that perceptions differed wildly. While 98% of employers reported offering career development tools, just 26% of employees said those tools were useful.

Survey data also revealed that although nearly every employer offers career development tools, many want to offer more. When asked about future investments in their businesses, career development tools were the top investment choice for employers. This option received 27%, which was nearly twice as high as any other option. Josh Bersin, a global industry analyst, said this preference may stem from companies not implementing the right employee development options.

"We are now in a stage where most companies have too much technology and not enough time," he said. "A major part of today's employee experience is simplifying the technology experience and designing HR programs that happen 'in the flow of work.'"

Leaving a job is an option if development opportunities don't exist.

Researchers said giving workers a chance to better themselves is key for employee retention, as it was second only to compensation (46%) as a reason why people decide to leave their jobs. According to the survey, 69% of employers recognize this need and said they felt career growth was "extremely important to retention."

But, of the employees that participated in the study, 34% said they had left a job in the past because they found the employee development options lacking, and 70% said they'd consider leaving their current position for a job that offers better employee development measures.

"In addition to today's announced research findings, our own research with more than 600 in-depth interviews across 200 roles shows a need for a more employee-centric solution," Benson said.

According to researchers, one of the biggest problems surrounding employee development in the workplace is how lonesome it makes some workers feel. Researchers said approximately 77% of respondents said they "feel like they're on their own" to decide how to develop skills that will help them progress in their careers.

Andrew Martins
Andrew Martins,
Business News Daily Writer
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I am a former newspaper editor who has transitioned to strictly cover the business world for business.com and Business News Daily. I am a four-time New Jersey Press Award winner and prior to joining my current team, I was the editor of six weekly newspapers that covered multiple counties in the state.