Why employees are wary of learning and development programmes

Many researches suggest that employees are not really motivated to learn relevant skills. But why is that so? Why would someone not want to grow?


If you search for ‘learning and development’ on Google, you will see hundreds of articles emphasising the importance of training and development in the growth of the company and its employees.

Many organisations have a ‘training’ culture. In such companies, learning and development is just a tick in the box activity. And employees do not like to train themselves. However, organisations with a ‘learning’ culture are the ones where employees get to learn things willingly and happily. These are the organisations that can rightly claim that their employees grow with the company because of their learning programmes.

There are many researches that reveal that employees are not really keen to learn new skills and grow in life with the help of what the organisation has to offer. There are also various researches that say that one of the most popular reasons for an employee to quit is that they feel that organisations do not provide them with relevant training and skills to grow!

Who exactly is at fault here? Is it the employees who lack the desire to learn and grow, or is it the organisations, which actually fail to understand the needs of their employees and end up losing them?

Remember how we struggled with algebra, and then asked our teachers, where it will be of use in our practical lives? Similarly, employees do not always know how a certain kind of training will add value to their performance and growth.

“Organisations need to communicate to their employees, why they are sending them for training. And that is what they fail to do,” says Chandrasekhar Mukherjee, chief people officer, South Indian Bank.

Another factor is that organisations also fail to measure the outcomes of the training that they have conducted.

“As of now, there is no co-relation established between the performance of an employee and the training process. It is very hard to say whether training will enhance the performance of an employee,” shares Sudheesh Venkatesh, chief people officer, Azim Premji Foundation.

There are some tools which can be used to measure the outcomes of the training. “When an employee goes for training, the line manager mentions why the person is sent for the training. Once the employee returns after getting trained, through discussions with the employee the manager finds out and reports whether the purpose of training was fulfilled or not,” explains Mukherjee.

Chandrasekhar Mukharjee

“Organisations need to communicate to their employees, why they are sending them for training. And that is what they fail to do”


Its very hard to tell whether these activities are taken seriously or not. But you do have a mechanism to analyse the outcome of trainings. And with the presence of AI and and big data, it has become easier.

Sometimes, we also see rigidness in an organisation’s approach. There are some mandatory training programmes for managers and employees. It is very hard to understand whether imposing something on others will give positive results.

“There will be some mandatory programmes which the employees will have to attend. The organisations have a career path panned for you, and therefore, they will want you to be prepared for upcoming roles within them,” mentions Mukherjee.

Venkatesh also adds, “There are some basic skills that employees need to survive in the organisation. When I used to work for Tesco, the Company had a programme to embed the skills of planning, doing and reviewing, which were essential to survive in the business and the organisation.”

Sudheesh Venkatesh

“There are some basic skills that employees need to survive in the organisation. That is why mandatory learning programmes are important”


With the entry of Gen Z, the true digital natives— with their technological knowledge, the workforce will be more tech-savvy. They are used to free knowledge at their fingertips. They will learn what they want to learn. But as we all know, organisations will make you learn what is business driven. So there is always a clash between the interest of the organisation and the employees.

With the disruption of e-learning platforms, which enable employees to learn whatever they want to on their smartphones and other digital devices, it becomes difficult for the trainers to create a balance between the interest of the company and the employees.

To tackle that, Mukherjee suggests,”We can let employees opt for one subject of their own choice along with others, which are mandated by the organisation. In Colgate, amongst the five core subjects selected by the company, employees are allowed to choose one of the subjects or skills that they want to learn, and it can be anything.”

However, such a scenario is rare. Organisations fail to understand that it is better to let the employees choose what they want to learn and in which area they want to grow. It’s better to make people do what they want to do rather than impose restrictions.

There can be instances where a person working in HR for two years wants to move into sales and marketing, and learn some skills which are related to that field.

“It depends on the requirements of the organisations. Also, a person with a certificate may not necessarily be good for the role. There are other things to analyse,” says Venkatesh.

Apart from the above-mentioned reasons, there are other causes for the lack of motivation in employees to not develop their skills, such as the positioning of the L&D programme.

“People may think they are branded as low performers, and that is why the company is sending them for trainings,” shares Venkatesh.

Yet another reason can be the outdated models of learning in the organisation.

Whatever the reason, it should be the organisation’s responsibility to promote a culture of learning and ensure that employees understand that learning is a lifelong process. Learning can only add value to their personal and professional lives, and hence, should always be welcomed.

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