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Study Reveals Mismatched Perspectives on Professional Development

According to a recent set of online surveys conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of the University of Phoenix® School of Business, just because your organization offers professional development does not mean employees will participate in it.

Although 94% of hiring managers indicated that it is critical to their organization’s success to train and upskill employees, 32% of surveyed employees apparently do nothing to improve their skills.

In terms of keeping skills up to date, 90% of hiring managers agree that that is part of the job in their organization. While 71% of employees indicate that they need to continually learn new skills, 37% of employees do not think that their employers’ professional development programs will strengthen their skills.

“In this economic climate, it is critical for employers to help their workforce be aware of the professional development opportunities that exist, and emphasize the importance of ongoing education to organizational competitiveness, innovation and creativity,” said Ruth Veloria, executive dean for University of Phoenix School of Business. “Offering meaningful professional development ensures organizations can attract and retain talent, while helping employees grow in their current or projected roles.”

“Survey data shows employees prefer to work for organizations that offer growth potential and are willing to invest in them as business professionals,” Veloria explained. “What we found is that employees have a high level of confidence in their current skillset, but lack confidence in the current professional development programs their employers offer.”

So, what should employers do in light of the survey?

First, make sure employees are aware of the professional development opportunities available to them. Promote your offerings during the recruiting process, during performance reviews, in internal print and electronic communications, and in informal discussions between managers and employees.

Second, explain why it is important for employees to improve their skills and learn new ones—both in terms of their individual advancement and the organization’s success. If employees do not see the value in enrolling in certain courses—or they do not understand the relevance of training to their jobs—they are less likely to participate or to be engaged in it.

Third, ensure that your professional development offerings align with business goals and objectives. What are the critical skills that you need to develop to drive success in your organization? Talk to executives, managers and supervisors, and frontline workers to consider their perspectives and training needs.

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