L&D is king today, but too many orgs may be making this mistake

As pandemic-driven talent shortages continue to plague employers, a new survey reveals both good news and bad news on that front.

The positive? According to the latest workforce survey from The Conference Board, professional development is proving to be a highly effective tool for retaining employees. Yet, when not done right, it could have your workers headed for the exit: Nearly 60% of employees polled said they are likely to leave their company if they don’t have access to professional development, continuing education or career training to help develop new skills, stay up to date on current trends and drive career advancement.

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On top of that, the survey, which queried more than 1,200 predominantly professional/office workers, reports women, millennials and people of color are most willing to leave for a lack of development. In fact, there exists a fairly large gap based on race.

When asked if they would leave their company for another if they do not receive the development opportunities they believe they need, 53% of white workers agreed, compared to 80% of Asian respondents, 70% of Hispanic/Latinos and 68% of Black employees.



“These survey results reveal that, in the midst of a talent shortage, providing and promoting opportunities for career and skills development can be a critical way to attract candidates,” says Rebecca Ray, executive vice president of Human Capital, The Conference Board, a think tank that focuses on people-related issues.

And, not only are people of color more likely to leave if not given adequate career development, the survey also found that, in many cases, they are indeed reporting a lack of access.

Forty percent of Asian respondents said they currently lack career development resources, along with 38% of Black participants, 35% of Hispanic/Latinos and 28% of white individuals. Similarly, a lack of opportunities was reported by 37% of Black respondents, 36% of both Hispanic/Latino and Asian participants, and 27% of white employees.

“In order to retain and grow the diversity of thought and experience within your organization, it is critical to ensure that all employees have access to rich professional development opportunities,” Ray says. “Workers—especially people of color—expressed just how important they find the opportunity to develop their work-related skills.”

Employers must also pay attention to disparities across job level. When asked about challenges to skills development, just 10% of CEOs and the C-suite consider a lack of opportunities a barrier, compared to an average of 40% of all other employees.

“Employees have made clear their desire to keep learning and growing both within and beyond their current roles,” says Jennifer Burnett, principal of Human Capital, The Conference Board. Burnett explains that it is in the best interest of employers to provide all employees across their business with learning and development opportunities related to business priorities and overall personal growth.

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“That means whether it’s ensuring there are appropriate resources for frontline workers or highlighting the importance of empathy for managers in a hybrid world of work,” she says.

“Creating a culture of learning,” Ray adds, “will not only help your employees flourish, but also will help your company stay ahead of the rapidly changing business environment.”

Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.

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