Friday, April 07, 2006

Employee Learning and Growth

HBR reviews Workforce Crisis: How to Beat the Coming Shortage of Skills and Talent.The review tries to examines the business implications of trends in the pool of current and future employees.Some key points are :

Learning is integral to any organization's capability and productivity, recruiting and retention, and leadership and capacity for change. More importantly, learning can mitigate the coming shortage of labor and skills in two ways.

First, learning is an increasingly visible, important, and on negotiable component of the employment deal. So lifelong learning has advanced from "nice phrase" to business performance imperative.

Second, with labor and skills shortages ahead, organizations must "grow their own" expertise by providing employees with opportunities, both on the job and off, to raise their skills level.

Learning is both a marketing and a productivity tool—a means for attracting and retaining key talent, as well as for ensuring that employees are equipped with the right capabilities both to perform well and to maintain competitive competency levels. Simply put, your company must excel at enabling employees to learn.
Employees want to learn
In nationwide survey of workers and their preferences, "Work that enables me to learn, grow, and try new things" ranked third among ten basic elements of the employment deal, behind a comprehensive benefits package and a comprehensive retirement package. It ranked higher than more pay, more vacation, flexible schedule, flexible workplace, work that is personally stimulating, and even (by a small margin) a workplace that is enjoyable.

Well-educated ones, those with postgraduate work or degrees, rank learning significantly higher than do employees in general.

Employees at the two ends of the income spectrum—lowest and highest—value learning more than those in the middle.

Both young workers and mature ones show above-average preference for learning.
People with more time available—single, childless, with time to socialize—value learning above the average.

Employees of nonprofit organizations show above-average preference for learning opportunities.

Self-employed or part-time workers value learning higher than full-time employees.

People in small companies value learning more than those in large ones.

Employees who work over fifty hours per week show above-average preference for learning.

Those who work primarily from home also have above-average preference to learn.

People in professional and business services, information and technology, and construction show a significantly above-average preference to learn and grow than workers in other industries.

People in education and health services show a slightly above-average preference to learn.

Employees who are currently excited by a new project or assignment show a preference for learning well above the norm, ranking it number two among deal elements.
Some 9 percent of employees (13 percent in large organizations) say they have inadequate training or knowledge for their current positions. Meanwhile, this group as a whole shows lower than average preference for learning and growth opportunities, and a significantly below-average engagement score. So an individual's general passion for knowledge prompts learning more than one's specific job demands do.

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