Is training a life enhancer?

Employees say the impact of learning radiates from the
workplace into their personal lives. Stephanie Sparrow and Simon Kent ask
training professionals how they feel about this responsibility

A recent survey by training provider KnowledgePool revealed the importance
that British workers place on training.

Almost a quarter said training opportunities were the principal
consideration when applying for a new job and overall, they were the second
most important consideration after basic salary.

The survey revealed many heartening statistics such as the extremely high
percentage (81 per cent) who trained to improve their performance in their
current job. But surprisingly, nearly a fifth participated in training in the
hope that it would benefit their personal lives. This could be because personal
skills such as communication, self-motivation and team work were seen by
respondents as the most useful skills at work and so it followed that almost
two-thirds believed the skills that make them good at work are useful in
personal relationships. We asked readers for their opinions.

Rick Woodward
Director of corporate training, Kimberly-Clark

Training is for developing skills and motivating people. Employees might get
better at interpersonal skills, but it is also motivational because it helps
people to grow.

I believe development and training can have a profound effect on people
simply because it says the company believes in them. A lot of people tell me
they are amazed at how much Kimberly-Clark invests in them.

We are very proud of our professional development programme and use it as a
recruitment tool to say to the outside world ‘look how much we believe in the
people we employ.’

Patrick Gibbons
Head of HR development, CIS

The training and development opportunities we give to people at CIS are not
only intended to develop workplace competencies, but offer personal
opportunities. We publicly state this in our development strategy so we get
people on courses not because there is an immediate benefit to their career,
but because they want to learn about that subject.

Paul Butler
Chief executive, Knowledge Pool

Organisations should capitalise on employees’ inherent desire to learn.
Companies are seriously taking on board work-life balance – they want to
encourage employees to follow a cycle of continuous development but not all of
that can be done during work time, so there must be a reason for the employee
to spend their own time developing skills.

The learning culture doesn’t just encompass the employee, it encompasses
their family life as well. So, if you have an e-learning database there is no
reason why partners and children shouldn’t have access as well.

Addressing staff motivation in this way is a very powerful tool, because you
capitalise on the desire of most of the workforce to learn new skills. It is
essential companies tap into this.

Helen Martin
Vice-president, head of HR, Credit Suisse

I think people have an intrinsic desire to reach their potential. I also
think adults generally dislike being taught, but enjoy learning.

Although we haven’t carried out a research study into the benefits people
feel development opportunities have brought to their personal lives, I have
observed a self-confidence boost in many and a greater adaptation and openness
to change. In addition, some employees have become noticeably less entrenched
in their thinking. This increase in awareness can only benefit them in their
personal life.

I do consider this impact when we are planning training and development
initiatives. I have seen middle-aged staff, who haven’t sat an exam since their
11-plus, really open up and glow in newly-found self confidence.

Bruce Boughton
People development manager, Asda

We have had a couple of courses which have definitely had a personal impact.
On one of those, participants realised their home life was very important to
them and that helps the organisation. We want rounded individuals who are
positive and motivated and have a successful home life as well as success at

In general, technical skills are for the workplace, but with management
courses we’re digging down into that person so you’re bound to get personal
learning as well as business learning. It also means participants learn for
themselves, rather than because we tell them to learn.

Helen Busby
Senior manager career development, Nationwide

We take a balanced approach between training and development. Training could
be defined as ‘things that help me do my current job and enhance my
performance.’ Development is more about personal growth – helping individuals
stretch themselves – and therefore there is a greater alignment with personal

I think people have always had their eye on work-life balance and now it has
become more overt it is more acceptable to say ‘I have responsibilities outside
work.’ Consequently, one can ask an organisation how training benefits you,
rather than just how it helps sell more products.

Comments are closed.