Too many organisations don’t prioritise employee development, have not implemented digital learning strategies, and have either inadequate or inconsistent review processes, a new study shows.

New research from Bridge in collaboration with Two Heads Consulting, finds that most businesses in the UK are struggling to engender a culture that prioritises learning and development. Only 25 per cent of HR staff say their organisations have a learning culture. In comparison, three quarters of companies don’t have one at all (11 per cent), are still trying to establish one (59 per cent) or report it is not a priority (5 per cent).

Furthermore, despite recognising its importance, 60 per cent of UK companies don’t measure the impact of learning on business performance.

“While most employers recognise that good learning and development will positively impact business performance, our research shows that many are failing employees by not having the right tools in place to achieve this,” said Kenny Nicholl, General Manager, EMEA at Instructure. “The good news is that employees are hungry to learn, but organisations need to provide more effective and measurable employee development to foster a more engaged, loyal and productive workforce.”

In the face of a well-documented skills shortage, organisations in the UK will need to spend an extra £527 million to attract the right talent over the next year. Bridge’s study shows that there is a real opportunity for companies to capitalise on employees’ desire to learn, as seven in ten workers (70 per cent) say that development opportunities are a decisive factor in choosing where to work.

However, the report also uncovers a significant disconnect between employees’ learning and their organisation’s strategic goals. While almost two in three (64 per cent) UK workers understand what their company does, more than half (53 per cent) don’t know how they contribute towards company goals.

The research shows that organisations are split in their approach to developing digital learning strategies. While more than a third (35 per cent) of companies already have one in place, three in ten (30 per cent) are in the process of developing a strategy, and one in three (35 per cent) organisations currently don’t have a plan for using digital learning tools.

Performance Review Process Ineffective at Most UK Companies

When it comes to performance reviews, many employees feel they are not adequately served by either their company’s policies or their line managers. One in three (32 per cent) workers never have any review meetings at all, and the same proportion (32 per cent) only an annual appraisal.

Many employees who are engaged in a review process are often left feeling that it is not being taken as seriously as it could. Approaching a quarter (23 per cent) of employees feel that their boss sees their appraisal as a “tick box” exercise, and one in seven (14 per cent) say their line manager does little preparation or follow-up. One in ten (10 per cent) say their supervisor ‘doesn’t have time’ for the process, while one in twelve (8 per cent) say their reviewer is ‘directive’ and tells them what to do.

The research finds that many employees have a hunger for development, with more than seven in ten (72 per cent) feeling that they need to learn more in order to do their job well and around the same proportion (70 per cent) stating that learning is a essential motivating factor in choosing where to work.

However, they want their organisations to be flexible in their approaches to upskilling. Six in ten (60 per cent) employees want to control how and when they learn, compared to just one in six (16 per cent) who want their training and development to be dictated by the company and a quarter (24 per cent) who want to undertake training on their own time.