Majority of employees say L&D is a ‘vital’ factor in choosing an employer, survey finds

Survey finds employee demand for career progression is on the up as previous data suggests that HR see learning as ‘critical’ but often underfunded

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The vast majority (83 per cent) of employees saw learning and development (L&D) as a “vital factor” behind their choice of employer, a survey has found.

The data, released by Docebo, revealed that a good L&D programme was also crucial for retention strategies, as two thirds (66 per cent) of UK workers said they would consider quitting their job within 12 months if L&D to help with career development was cut. 

When asked why they would have quit the job in the past, three quarters (75 per cent) of UK workers said not being paid enough was the main reason, while just under a half (49 per cent) said poor management. Two thirds (34 per cent) said an under-resourced team was the primary reason. 

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Blake Henegan, managing director at Optimus Learning Services, said L&D is vital and there is “no excuse” for a company to not have it in place for its staff. 

“Companies that do [have extensive L&D opportunities] have a competitive advantage,” said Henegan, who added that its important companies and learning departments ensure they are “marketing what they do both externally to attract the best talent and internally to promote a culture of learning”. 

Scott Leiper, creator at Imaginocity and The Learning Lab, said it’s important to notice the role of L&D during the economic downturn, and that it’s the job of L&D to make employees as “productive, enabled, happy and engaged” as possible. 

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“We all need a fair and competitive wage, and it’s often difficult to match inflation, but climbing the ladder is about offering a rich career spectrum of choices and developmental experiences,” said Leiper, who added L&D offerings should be “deep and multi-directional to support and enable employees, rather than just ensuring they can climb higher to reach the summit”. 

The global survey of 1,555 employees – 385 of which were in the UK – found that millennials cared the most about L&D, with four fifths of this group (83 per cent) saying they would be more likely to choose an employer that prioritised continuous learning and development opportunities. Over three quarters (79 per cent) of Gen Z would have done the same. 

Interestingly, the less experienced an employee is, the more they would feel compelled to quit their job if their employer cut L&D. Two-thirds of Gen Z (66 per cent) and 65 per cent of millennial respondents said they would consider quitting, compared to only 55 per cent of baby boomer employees. 

Sam Leonard-Rawlings, head of learning and organisational development at Turning Point, said there are a number of factors that could be contributing towards people seeing learning as the vital factor behind their choice of employer. 

“Having good learning opportunities is key to helping people progress and move roles and people, particularly the generations coming into the employment market, are also looking for work with a purpose,” said Leonard-Rawlings, adding that organisations “too often consider the transactional factors such as pay being the most important to attraction and retention”.

Meanwhile, a previous study by BIE Executive found that L&D is seen as critical by the majority (86 per cent) of businesses, but this can be undercut by a lack of financial backing or resources. The survey of 200 HR leaders found that half (50 per cent) said their L&D efforts were hampered by cost, while just under half (47 per cent) said they couldn’t always access the resources they needed.

Dipesh Mistry, L&D professional and vice chair for CIPD Leicestershire Committee, said organisations need more ways to attract talent and L&D is a “key criteria” for employees who are either looking for a new job or for reasons to stay. But, he said, many organisations have failed to keep up investment into L&D, with functions remaining the same while staff numbers multiply. 

“With the cost of living increasing higher than wages are rising, learners are looking to upskill themselves in order to gain their next promotion and giving the learners a reason to stay with their current employer,” he said, so organisations will need “significant investment in L&D functions” to ensure learners have the development opportunities to make their careers are fulfilling.

Additionally, the 2022 Workplace Learning report by Linkedln – which surveyed 256 L&D professionals –  found there was a 94 per cent increase in demand for learning specialists last year, with two in five (41 per cent) of its respondents saying they planned to deploy large-scale upskilling or reskilling programmes in the year ahead.