Learning in the Workplace 2013 survey results.

The Learning in the Workplace Survey  has now been taken by over 600 people, and although it is still open if you want to cast your vote, I am going to release some interim findings here today as the pattern of results has been pretty stable for some time now.

The survey asked respondents to rate  the importance (value/usefulness) of 10 different ways of learning for themselves. The red figures are where the most responses have been received. 

Not important Quite important Very important Essential VIP + Essential
Company training/e-learning 25%  42% 20% 13% 33%
Self-directed study of external courses  14% 33% 35% 18% 53%
Internal company documents  13% 44% 29% 14% 43%
Internal job aids  20%  37% 26% 17% 43%
Collaborative working within your team  3%  12% 30%  55% 85%
General conversations and meetings with people  2%  19%  40% 39% 79%
Personal & professional networks and communities 3%  22% 35% 40% 75%
External blog and news feeds  8%  22%  40% 30% 70%
Content curated from external sources  9% 29% 39% 23% 62%
Web search for resources (eg Google) 2% 17% 32%  49%  81%

In the last column, I’ve aggregated the Very Important and Essential scores and  highlighted in blue the top 5 rated ways of learning in the workplace. This shows …

  1. that company training/e-learning is the lowest rated way to learn at work , and
  2. that workers find other (self-organised and self-managed) ways of learning at work far more valuable – with team collaboration being the highest rated.

Who has responded to this survey?

  • Country: 46 countries (incl USA (28%), Australia (12%), Canada (8%), UK (22%), New Zealand and other  countries in Europe, South America and Asia)
  • Industry: 42% edu-related; 58% non-edu related (incl 12% technology, 9% Government, 9% financial services, 4% healthcare)
  • Organisation size: 61% from orgs with more than 250 people, evenly split between other org sizes
  • Function: 45% HR/L&D, 65% from all other functions (incl 12% IT, 4% Sales & Marketing)
  • Job type: Non-managerial/other: 53%, line managers: 9%; middle: 20%, senior 18%
  • Age: <30 : 6%, 31-40 : 28%,  41-50 36%, 51-60 : 24%; 60+ : 7%
  • Sex: Male: 42%; Female : 58%

The general pattern of results holds good for most industries, job functions, job roles and age group. Note, for instance that

  • 68% of those working in HR/L&D also consider training/e-learning to be of little or no value for them in the workplace.

However, a preliminary analysis of the results has uncovered some other interesting aspects of how people like to learn at work, which I will reveal in a full report on the data later.

Nevertheless as a whole, these survey results are yet another piece of evidence that show how workers are continuing to organise and manage their own learning in many different ways –  and in doing so are bypassing the L&D Department. What’s more a comparison with the 2012 Learning in the Workplace survey results shows that this is a continuing trend.

Want to find out more? If so, you might be interested in my upcoming book, The Workplace Learning Revolution, which will provide more evidence how learning is changing in the workplace, and some guidance on how to support these new ways of learning at work.

UPDATE: Two follow up posts

  1. 5 characteristics of how Knowledge Workers like to learn at work
  2. Supporting continuous learning and performance improvement – a vital new area of work

71 thoughts on “Learning in the Workplace 2013 survey results.

  1. Roger Mundell

    It is important to recognize that a majority of workplace training and learning is done formally or internally only because the employer needs a record of the specific outcomes that were achieved or required. Certainly most of us prefer informal learning, but the entire raison d’etre for the formal training industry is all about providing the records that demonstrate very specifically what learning occurred related to a specific issue, as opposed the broader learning that might occur informally.
    The business case almost always centers around either regulatory compliance, political ass-covering, or performance analytics needed to justify something. This is a major reason that online learning has such momentum, because it more easily provides evidence and measurement and times. Much of it is very effective too, but the evidence of that is skewed by a lot of really bad stuff in a survey like this one.

    1. Jane Hart Post author

      Thank for your comment, Roger. The trouble is too much online/e-learning is created unnecessarily and is an over-engineered solution to a problem that could have been addressed much better in another way – which consequently gives e-learning a bad name. If it were the exception rather than the rule, people would appreciate it more – now it has become something to be evaded and avoided, and people are sourcing their own solutions to their problems. Take a look at my follow up post which looks at how Knowledge Workers like to learn – and how these might be applied in the formal context. http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/blog/2013/04/25/5-characteristics/

  2. Ite Smit

    Hi Jane,
    You release some findings while the survey is still open. I wonder wether that will influence the end-results because people can now give answers to realize a certain outcome.

    1. Jane Hart Post author

      Hi Ite, yes you might think that would be the case, wouldn’t you? but it didn’t happen last year. This is because I find that many people take the survey who haven’t seen the results in the blog. But I have noted when I released the initial findings on my spreadsheet – and will do a mini-analysis on subsequent responses to see if there is any change in the general pattern

  3. Sven Lakner

    Hi Jane,

    I am surprised by the results, and I am wondering about the validity of the findings, especially the finding that training/e-learning is of little or no value for those working in HR/L&D in the workplace. Of course, 68% of those did answer this way, but my hypothesis is that if people were only asked how important they consider formal learning while not being asked along other forms of learning, the results could be different. What do I mean by this?
    Let’s assume I was asked how important I consider the following means of communication in the workplace:
    1. my mouth
    2. virtual social media
    My assumption would be that I rated my mouth as very important and social media as not really important although it is an important means of communication to me in the workplace.

    Kind regards
    Sven

    1. Sven Lakner

      I am especially referring to the relevance of time spent with the learning forms (or means of communication) for the evaluation of their importance.

  4. paulgibson2013

    Jane, while I find your efforts to receive feedback and somehow channel these findings into a comprehensive industry trend, a survey taken by 600 people can hardly signal neither a trend nor any real reference point for HR professionals who are deciding on which method or methodology is the best way to train their employees. These results are to be taken with a grain of salt.

    1. Jane Hart Post author

      My small-scale findings show that there is a need for a shift from a focus on training to enabling and support learning in more relevant ways. This ties is with what I am seeing in practice in many forward-thinking organisations who recognise that they need to tap into the way that individuals and teams are already self-organising and self-managing their own continuous learning and performance improvement. Whether training departments or learning providers like it or not, we are undoubtedly seeing a change in attitudes and approaches to workplace learning. http://c4lpt.co.uk/new-workplace-learning/

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  11. Sanjeev

    Hi Jane,
    I am doing a research on the impact of eLearning on employees in information technology organisations. I will be grateful if you could share the details of your survey, its methodology and approach. It will be helpful for me to understand the perspectives of a global direction. Thanks.

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