New research by human capital research firm Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and the Aspen Institute's UpSkill America found that while 89% of organizations currently offer upskilling opportunities to frontline workers, and 98% of those indicate plans to maintain or grow these programs, the vast majority of respondents (73%) indicate that they either don't know how many frontline workers take advantage of development opportunities or that their organizations don't track that metric.
Fifty-nine percent (59%) also do not measure and reward managers for developing these workers.
These findings are significant when compared to the study's most important finding: When frontline workers take advantage of development opportunities, it has a high correlation to the market performance of the organization.
The study, Developing America’s Frontline Workers, included input from leaders at 365 U.S. employers and was conducted in support of the Upskill Initiative announced by President Barack Obama in his January 2015 State of the Union address and later launched at the White House Upskill Summit.
The objective is to support businesses in their efforts to educate, train, and develop low-wage and entry-level workers
"Though nine of 10 respondents reported their organizations offer development opportunities to frontline workers, there must be greater emphasis on accountability and communication to maximize business impact," says Kevin Oakes, CEO of i4cp.
"Due to factors such as weak follow-through and poor communications, an alarming 60% of respondents do not perceive that their organizations place a high priority on developing this worker segment.
Market performance is defined as recent multiyear growth in revenue, market share, profitability, and customer satisfaction.
The opportunity for positive bottom-line impact through frontline worker development is significant as it impacts those who often work most closely with an organization's customers."
Among other key findings:
- Of the organizations that track it, most organizations (58%) indicate that fewer than half of frontline workers actually access available development opportunities.
- Not tracking manager effectiveness at developing frontline workers is correlated with poor market performance and is pervasive among low-performance organizations (63% vs. only 29% of high-performance organizations). Market performance is defined as recent multi-year growth in revenue, market share, profitability, and customer satisfaction.
While only 34% of organizations reward line leaders who encourage workers to take advantage of provided opportunities, it's a practice that is 2.5 times more prevalent at high-performance organizations.