Every once in a while a report highlighting a key work study comes across my desk that leaves me baffled.

In one recent study that analyzed 1,200 U.S. employees' perceptions of the future of work, it was found that a lack of "skills gap understanding" by employers can result in mass droves of employees exiting, stage left.

More to the point, according to the new "Future of Work and Employee Learning" report from Sitel Group, a customer experience management company, the findings underscore the severity of the problem in one clear sentence:

"Thirty-seven percent of current employees say they would leave their current job/employer if they were not offered training to learn new skills."

So here we are again, coming to another realization of the growing need for organizations to invest in their people through training and development.

That's baffling to me.

Not so much the glaring numbers in the report but the fact that it's 2019, and this study (conducted in March of this year), much like similar employee experience studies of the past, is still calling out the same gaps companies need to address to reduce turnover.  

So, we know that workers need to learn and grow, not only to be fully engaged and intrinsically motivated but because it helps them do their jobs better. Common sense, right? But not common practice.

Adding insult to injury, the study found that nearly 1 in 3 (30 percent) of U.S. employees admit they have avoided asking their employer for training on a specific topic or activity because, the report states, "they thought [managers] may be concerned they didn't know about the topic or how to complete an activity." Additionally, "46 percent of employees believe their employer penalizes them for not having certain skills on the job."

Do you know what your employees want?

Let's uncover a better understanding of what your company, perhaps, may unwittingly be missing, and what key steps leaders need to take to improve your employee experience. Here are some key findings from the report:

  • 92 percent of U.S. employees say learning something new on the job makes them more motivated and engaged in their work

  • 79 percent of employees say when searching for a job, it is important to them that the employer offers a formal training program to their employees
  • 83 percent of employees find on-the-job training most effective in helping them perform well in their job, compared with classroom-based training, self-paced training (i.e., e-learning), and more
  • 33 percent of employees say they have participated in past training on technology skills, while only 17 percent say they've participated in management skills training
  • More than half (51 percent) of employers don't offer soft skills training (i.e., how to speak to a customer or client effectively)
  • 68 percent of employers don't incentivize or reward employees for completing trainings

Upon further analysis, it's important to note the employee experience begins at the recruitment stage. Nearly eight in 10 employees (79 percent) say when searching for a job, it is important to them that the employer offers a formal training program to employees.

For organizations looking to attract Gen-Z talent, the stakes are higher. Nearly 90 percent of Gen-Zs say it is important to them that a future employer offers formal training programs.

When it's all said and done, a well-designed learning and development initiative not only should be a top priority to value the employee as a human being, it's true impact is on the bottom line.

Mike Small, CEO-Americas of the Sitel Group, emphasizes the point in closing: "What's most critical for employers to understand is how L&D impacts the employee experience, and how that translates to impacting the customer experience. A good employee training program will not only help you retain and attract top talent, it will absolutely affect your organization's ability to provide optimal experiences for your customers."