New Pew Study: Employees Dissatisfied with Training, Development

By Ed Keller, Executive Director, MRII

At MRII, our mission is to help you achieve market research success by mastering the fundamentals as a key to realizing the full potential and value of market research and to drive innovation within it.  We believe deeply that without a solid foundation, there can be no success. 

For this reason, a new study from the Pew Research Center caught our attention with its finding about low levels of satisfaction with opportunities for training and skills development.

Only Half of Workers Are Satisfied With Their Jobs

The Pew study of “How Americans View their Jobs” found that that only about half of American workers (51%) are extremely or very satisfied with their jobs.

Digging a level deeper, the study found pockets of high satisfaction, most notably with regard to their relationship with their co-workers (67%) and with their manager or supervisor (62%). Large majorities say they’re treated with respect (78%) and can be themselves at work (72%) all or most of the time.  Two thirds also say they have at least one close friend at work (65%) and that they feel their contributions at work are valued a great deal or a fair amount (62%). 

Satisfaction is lowest on the economic side of things — their pay (34%) and their benefits (44%) — as well as opportunities for promotion (33%).  This didn’t come as a great surprise to me, having seen in employee surveys over the years that employees almost always want more pay and greater benefits.

What jumped out to me is seeing that opportunities for training and skills development sits plum smack in the middle of these areas of dissatisfaction, with only 44% saying they are satisfied.  This is an area that demands attention – not only to make employees happier but because it’s good for business.

Investment in Training Pays Off for Employers

There is compelling new evidence from McKinsey that the payoff to investing in your people is big.  

In McKinsey’s 2023 “Performance through people: Transforming human capital into competitive advantage” report, they were able to measure and show the impact of investing in employees. In an analysis of 1,800 companies across all sectors in 15 countries, companies were split into four categories: People + Performance Winners, Performance-Driven Companies, People-Focused Companies, and Typical Performers. 

The People + Performance Winners represent the ~10% of companies that outperform on both financials and people development.

The results are highly compelling:

  •  People + Performance Winners are roughly 1.5 times more likely to remain high performers over time and have about half the earnings volatility. When the pandemic hit, they maintained profitability and grew revenues twice as fast as Performance-Driven Companies
  •  P+P Winners were 4.3 times more likely than the average company to maintain top-tier financial performance for 9 out of 10 years.
  •  P+P Winners are talent magnets, with attrition rates almost 5% points lower than Performance-Driven companies. Their employees report higher job satisfaction, and are 1.3 times more likely to move into higher lifetime earnings brackets than those of Performance-Driven companies. 

People – The Crucial Element to Organizational Success

Great organizations shape the lives of the people who work for them and lead the market by example. Training and development should be seen not as a cost, but as an investment that pays off.  The McKinsey study demonstrates this clearly.

The low level of worker satisfaction in this area should be a clarion cry for companies to address. As we navigate the ever-changing world of work, one component remains stable – investing in people is core and crucial. To learn more about MRII and our online market research courses with University of Georgia, click here

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