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ATD Blog

Employees Crave Personal L&D—But Employers Aren’t Responding

Friday, September 16, 2022

With the workforce in flux, is your organization looking for competitive advantages? Instead of free lunches or a ping pong table at the office, you may find that providing learning and development (L&D) can both interest and retain employees.

In fact, 9 out of 10 surveyed employees say L&D opportunities are vital to their job satisfaction and 90 percent say L&D opportunities are important when choosing a new job according to a June 2022 survey of more than 1,000 learning leaders and employees conducted by Crucial Learning.

But there’s a problem: Just 46 percent say they find value in their organization’s available training opportunities.

While organizations may provide upskilling opportunities, many simply take a check-the-box approach. With the number of job openings higher than ever and top performers on the move, if you aren’t prioritizing your people’s well-being, you are at risk of seeing them walk out the door for an organization that does.

So what do employees want? Eighty-five percent of employees expressed a desire for L&D that applies to both their professional and personal lives, but only 48 percent said their employer provides both. When asked what L&D opportunities they value most, employees’ top choices all touched on holistic skills. Employees’ top five most valued skills were:

  • Leadership skills
  • Interpersonal and communication skills
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Habits or behavior change skills
  • Personality or character insights

Even when L&D opportunities are available, many employees feel their organization’s leadership is simply paying lip service to employees’ efforts to upskill. One in three respondents say their manager doesn’t support or encourage their participation in L&D while nearly half (43 percent) don’t feel supported to take time away from their job responsibilities to participate in extra training.

For companies looking to retain or recruit top candidates, a lack of commitment to providing personal and professional L&D opportunities can be crippling. A resounding 90 percent of employees say L&D is important when choosing a new job, and 93 percent state they’re more likely to stay at or take a job that offers L&D experiences.


And don’t worry too much about how you deliver your offerings. In the survey, employees expressed almost equal liking for any method of L&D delivery:

  • Virtual learning is liked by 76 percent of respondents.
  • On-demand learning is liked by 71 percent of respondents.
  • In-person learning is liked by 67 percent of respondents.

It also doesn’t matter how you offer upskilling opportunities to your employees—what does matter is that you’re providing crucial skills your people can use on the job while building relationships with their families, friends, and themselves.

So how do you provide this value? Here are five tips to help managers successfully provide L&D that both improves employees’ professional and personal lives and helps their organization stay productive and profitable:

Show support from leadership. If employees are too scared to take time and money to learn, it doesn’t matter what courses are offered. Establish and communicate repeatedly the organization’s commitment to employee learning.


Provide holistic learning opportunities. The days of providing strictly technical training are over. Employees are starving for L&D that will improve all aspects of their lives.

Promote your L&D program. Whether speaking to current or prospective employees, ensure everyone clearly knows the L&D opportunities available. A culture of learning is one of an organization’s greatest competitive advantages.

Learn together. Advocate for a team approach to L&D to promote unity and continued application of skills. New habits are much more likely to stick when a team is working together. A team approach also promotes team commitment and engagement.

Don’t worry about the “how.” Employees aren’t worried about whether they’re learning virtually or in person, so organizations shouldn’t worry about it either. Find quality courses that match employees’ personal and professional needs and move forward.

About the Author

Emily Gregory is coauthor of Crucial Conversations and a Crucial Learning master trainer who has helped thousands of organizations such as Intel, Yahoo, and the Mayo Clinic achieve new levels of success. Emily holds a Medical Doctorate degree from the University of Utah and a Master of Business Administration from the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University.

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