With millions of potential learners looking for jobs and organizations everywhere cutting budgets to stay afloat, we postponed our originally planned topic for this month’s Everything DiSC® Pulse to look at something more critical: the role and relevance of training during tough economic times. We assumed that learners would be highly critical of the quantity and quality of their learning experiences. While this may be the case in many companies, it is far from universal.
Admittedly, our sample is biased. All of the 7,476 participants surveyed were participants in classroom training from January 15 to February 11, 2009. The people polled here work for companies that not only value training but also spend money on people-skills training during an international economic crisis. In fact, when asked if their company puts a strong emphasis on providing training, 77 percent said yes. Clearly, this sample is not representative of everyone or every organization. But for those companies that are committed to training, your employees will notice your commitment. And you are getting it right.
Now more than ever, your employees see the relevance and the value of training. Of those surveyed, 69 percent said they tend to value training more than they used to. In addition, more than half—58 percent—said that given the economic uncertainty, they spend more time thinking about the marketability of their skill set.
We found that among these training-centric organizations, learners felt they were receiving an adequate quantity of training. Of those surveyed, 84 percent said their organization offered many training opportunities. And 72 percent said they had the chance to choose from a variety of training opportunities.
Participants also felt they were receiving quality training. When asked if they had the skills to be competitive if they had to find a new job tomorrow, 90 percent said yes. Participants also gave high marks to the quality of their training, with 86 percent saying it was effective. And they were equally positive that if they asked their boss for additional training, it would be made available (86 percent). But for the majority of our sample, management was already in touch with the types of training its employees wanted. Seventy-one percent said management was aware of the real training needs of employees.
Perhaps the best piece of news was that the learners we surveyed did not see a decline in their company’s commitment to training. Only 26 percent said their organization seemed to be cutting back on training because of the economy. It is doubtful any organization will come out of this recession unchanged. But it will be interesting to watch how a commitment to training during this crisis influences these changes.
It is easy to expect the training industry to suffer during difficult economic times. At the risk of sounding Pollyanna-ish, we hope to have illuminated a bright spot, and we congratulate those companies who have the foresight to maintain an investment in their people during this time.
Mark Scullard is the director of research at Inscape Publishing, a leading provider of training materials for the corporate market. He has more than a decade of research and data analysis experience in the development of psychological evaluation tools and methods. Scullard received his doctorate in psychology from the University of Minnesota, with a supporting program in statistics.
Jeffrey Sugerman is the president and CEO of Inscape Publishing. He has more than 20 years of experience in senior management, marketing, and business development in the technology, training, and publishing industries. He holds doctorate and master’s degrees in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Northwestern University.