2014 survey shows again that company training/e-learning is the least valued way to learn at work

Here are the results of the 2014 Learning in the Workplace survey taken by over 1,000 respondents worldwide*, who rated the importance (value/usefulness) of 10 different ways of learning in the workplace.

Results of the 2014 Learning in the Workplace survey ©C4LPT Not important Quite important Very important Essential VIP + Essential
Company training/e-learning 24%  39% 21% 16% 37%
Self-directed study of external courses  14% 34% 34% 18% 52%
Internal company documents  15% 40% 30% 15% 45%
Internal job aids  20%  36% 28% 16% 44%
Knowledge sharing within your team  2%  11% 31%  56% 87%
General conversations and meetings  2%  20% 38% 40% 78%
Personal & professional networks and communities 3%  23% 36% 38% 74%
External blog and news feeds 10%  25%  39% 26% 65%
Content curated from external sources  9% 32% 38% 21% 59%
Web search for resources (eg Google) 3% 17% 33% 47%  80%

The red shaded areas and red figures highlight where the most responses have been received, and in the last column (which is an aggregate of the Very Important and Essential scores) the blue figures show the top 5 rated ways of learning at work.

These results show that, as with the 2013 and 2012 survey, company training/e-learning is the lowest rated way to learn at work, and knowledge sharing within teams is the the highest rated way to learn at work.

What does this mean for L&D departments? It suggests the focus of their work should be in the areas that are seen as high value, e.g.

*Who took the survey?

  • Location: In 46 countries incl USA, Australia, Canada, UK, New Zealand and other  countries in Europe, South America & Asia
  • Industry: 38% edu-related; 62% non-edu related (incl 11% technology, 10% Government, 8% financial services, 4% healthcare, 4% retail)
  • Organisation size: 63% from orgs with more than 250 people, evenly split between other org sizes
  • Function: 47% HR/L&D, 53% from all other functions (incl 10% IT, 5% Sales & Marketing)
  • Job type: Non-managerial/other: 53%, line managers: 8%; middle: 20%, senior: 19%
  • Age: <30 : 7%, 31-40 : 26%,  41-50 35%, 51-60 : 26%; >60 : 6%
  • Sex: Male: 41%; Female : 59%


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  4. Joan a

    I think the attempt on this research was good. However, I am bit concern with the unbalance in the participant selection for the data. For instance, in the edu- related section, it was 38% and the non-edu section there were 62%. It is hard to know which group of participants agreed or disagreed with company training/e-learning. In other words I would need more info to come with accept the data and also to glean anything valuable from this research. However, thanks for attempting this project, it is food for thought though.

  5. What people SAY they want and find useful does not always mirror actual performance results. I wrote a blog about learning myths in February (http://www.bottomlineperformance.com/learning-theories-gone-wild-urban-myths-can-hurt-learning-designs/) that covered this. Today, Annie Paul Murphy, the education writer for the NYT wrote a similar article and quoted the same research I did. Her article is here: http://anniemurphypaul.com/2014/07/are-you-an-autodidact-or-do-you-need-other-people-to-learn/

    I think we need caution before we shift too completely into the i”nformal learning is the way to go” camp because most of us are not good at managing our own learning. We choose what we prefer over what we may need, we skip what bores us, and we don’t know what we don’t know. Informal learning has its place but I think we need caution in interpreting survey results that indicate what people believe has been most helpful to them re: learning. People may PREFER doing searches on Google, but will that net them the greatest learning benefit?

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  7. Thank you for sharing this survey. My thoughts are, that quite often training is perceived in a negative light by employees for several reasons. They are often asked to attend mandatory training without being asked if they need it or have the time to go. In the past, as an L&D person, I could see their frustrations. The quality of the training was often woefully inadequate and there was a sense that we were just running through the motions.
    I think thoughts on attending training need to be delved a bit deeper to fully understand the psychology behind it.

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