As Career Development Lags, Workers Grow Restless

By Garry Kranz

Jan. 16, 2013

Organizations have their work cut out to develop and retain employees in 2013, new research shows.

During the past six months, slightly less than one-third of U.S. employees received training and development to better perform their jobs, according to a December survey by Cornerstone OnDemand Inc., a human resources software vendor. Other findings: Only one in four workers had met with their managers to hammer out an individual career plan while two-thirds of employees aren’t receiving feedback or recognition.

“Most employees want to do a good job, but many told us they aren’t getting the training they need to improve or to build a sustainable career. If individuals don’t get what they need, eventually they could wind up leaving,” says Jason Corsello, Cornerstone’s vice president of corporate strategy and marketing.

Corsello says the findings are a wake-up call to U.S. organizations, especially those that curtailed spending on training and development during the economic slowdown. The survey of nearly 500 U.S. employees took place Nov. 23 to 26 in conjunction with research firm Kelton Global.

The dynamics point to a looming problem for employers: 19 million Americans plan to change jobs this year, or 13 percent of the total U.S. workforce, according to the survey. The churn will cost U.S. businesses an estimated $2 trillion to recruit and train new workers.

Fourteen percent of survey respondents said they plan to leave their current job within six months to a year. About 25 percent are eyeing a move sometime in the next three years. Just 46 percent of those surveyed acknowledge having a long-range career with their current employer.

“We’ve been hearing for years how the performance-review process stinks, but what we found interesting is that employees have a strong desire to be developed. They want to get better, but companies aren’t giving them the resources to improve or to build sustainable careers,” Corsello says.

Classrooms and other formal modes of training remain important, but Corsello says companies have been slow to integrate informal methods like social media, coaching and collaborative tools. They also are struggling to roll out social tools that make learning content available to employees “when and where they want it,” including via mobile devices and smartphones.

The results suggest a need for more robust training of managers and adoption of “crowdsourcing” as a way to gather feedback about employees’ performance, which Corsello says could help close the gap and potentially boost engagement.

Good managers are the key reason employees stay, cited by 48 percent of respondents. Appreciation from managers and other employees (46 percent) is a close second, followed by career opportunities (39 percent) and the chance to develop new skills (32 percent).

“Nowhere did people say they are motivated by more money; that tends to be lower on the scale of importance. Mainly they want to know they’re doing a good job and to be recognized for it,” Corsello says.

Garry Kranz is a Workforce contributing editor. Comment below or email

Garry Kranz is a Workforce contributing editor.

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