Make sure the training you offer is what your people want
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Make sure the training you offer is what your people want

What do you want out of your employee training programs?

Uh, wait a sec. Maybe that’s not the first question you should be asking. Maybe you should wonder instead what your employees want to get from training.

Sure, you have organizational training goals you’d like to achieve. But your people also have goals, and you’re not going to get far unless you take these into account. If the training you offer isn’t motivating for employees, they’ll engage as perfunctorily as they can get away with.

So what do employees want out of training?

Staying competitive

According to e-learning guru and blogger Graham Glass, there’s a big item at the top of employee wish lists: training that will make and keep them competitive in the labor market. This consideration has always been there, but it’s come into sharper focus at a time when many jobs have been lost for pandemic-related reasons. Also contributing is the increasing role automation and artificial intelligence are playing in workplaces. Employees feel — rightly — that they need more than ever to maintain and raise their skill levels in order to ensure future employment.

Now, is there an inherent contradiction between the interests of employers who want their people to do better for them, and employees who might at some point take the skills you’ve helped them acquire down the road?

Sure, up to a point. But I’d suggest that helping employees gain marketable skills is in everybody’s interest, for the most part. A lot of these folks will probably stay with you long enough to amortize the cost of training them. And if they feel you’re shorting them in skill acquisition, they’re more likely to walk out the door anyway. A study by Gallup for Amazon found that nearly two-thirds of workers believe employer-provided upskilling is very important in their decision to stay in their job or accept a new offer.

Career advancement

Glass lists three more things employees want out of training:

Career advancement.

This means that employees want training that will equip them for promotion, even if they don’t use it right away. People who aren’t leaders (yet) may well want leadership training.


People also want training that’s tightly tied to better accomplishment of their current job. Personalized training — specifically linked with the individual and their work — is one way to make the experience sharply relevant.


Many more jobs than before are remote, so training that can be done remotely — and at a time of the trainee’s choosing — is a priority.

Of course, your particular employees may have different items on their training wish lists. So before you set down your organizational priorities, ask them what they’d like. You’ll be glad you did.

This blog post is adapted in part from “The American Upskilling Study: Preparing Workers for the Jobs of Tomorrow,” 2021, Gallup Inc.



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