A survey has found that a third of UK employees have negative attitudes towards learning. And yet with a national shortage of skilled workers, fostering a culture of learning is more important than ever. So how can employers increase employees’ interest in professional development?

Negative attitudes towards learning

People Management recently reported on findings that 32% of UK workers hold negative sentiments or are indifferent towards learning. The survey, conducted by AVADO, also found that 18% thought colleagues should learn on the job, as opposed to taking a day out of the office to train.

Some of the reasons behind this negative sentiment were cost (48%), travel (26%) and an inability to fit learning around work duties (20%). This suggests that while there might be an appetite to learn, economic concerns and excessive workloads may be hindering employee development.

And yet if the UK wants avoid falling behind the rest of Europe, it’s imperative that we invest in the skills of our workforce. This doesn’t just mean funding training initiatives, it also means giving employees licence to take time away from their immediate duties to train.

Building a culture of learning

The Mental Health in the Workplace Report by Benenden Health found increased workload to be the leading cause of employee stress. When work is piling up, taking time away to train may be an unappealing prospect. Enriching as the experience may be, the prospect of returning to missed emails and looming deadlines is likely to lessen the appeal.

So employers must make continuous professional development an integral part of their employees’ objectives. Adding an element of accountability will encourage employees to actively seek out learning opportunities.

This may sound like a potential stressor, adding more weight to already-overloaded plates. So employers may need to take a creative approach to the problem. Staggering training sessions, and encouraging employees to support one another in their duties while they train, is one way to tackle the problem. Incentives and recognition programmes can also serve to shift perspectives.

Taking a flexible approach to training

In an increasingly complex workplace, employers need to take a flexible approach to training. Offering a range of options, from classroom sessions to remote learning and self-study courses, will cater to a range of needs and learning styles.

A report by Towards Maturity earlier this year found that 55% of trainees want the option to personalise learning to their own needs. Yet only 50% of L&D professionals stated that employees could access learning provision at any time.

Help with your learning and development strategy

If you want help to build an engaging, inclusive learning and development strategy, get in touch. Knight’s Agency is a specialist training provider that not only provides expert-led training courses, but can also help you to develop your training programme from the ground up. Get in touch via the form below or call 0207 112 8412.