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Hidden Skills - employee's perspective on untapped potential


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DateJuly 08, 2008 Posted by: Laura Overton   Keywords: learner engagement, learners, Motivation

In our original Towards Maturity research, we found that employees were not only using e-learning provided as part of their job but were also using it to develop skills outside of their work.

So we were fascinated to hear about learndirect Business's survey with 1950 employees in June this year where 57% of employees were enaging with activities out of work that their employers could use but are not currently doing so.

Harnessing hidden skills benefits both employers and employees.  For instance, if all their untapped skills were used at work, employees said they would feel more motivated (45 per cent); more empowered at work (32 per cent); and would stay at their present company for a longer period of time (e.g. reduce staff turnover levels) (26 per cent).  Tapping into hidden skills would also directly impact the business with 45 per cent of employees claiming it would increase efficiency, whilst over a third (37 per cent) of high level managerial employees believe increased productivity would be the main benefit. 

Employees claimed the top five hidden skills gained through activities outside work include:
1. IT skills (36 per cent) – knowing how to create a blog or build a website
2. Writing skills (28 per cent) - good at crosswords or have written letters or articles to the local paper that have been published
3. Numeracy skills (27 per cent) - good at sudoku
4. Creativity skills (26 per cent) - writing poems in their spare time or have an interest in photography
5. Sales and marketing or e-commerce skills (23 per cent) - regularly buying and selling online, i.e. eBay or Amazon

However, it seems the UK’s hidden skills are going to waste as 59 per cent of employers have never even discussed their hidden skills with their employees. This figure rises to 67 per cent in large organisations (250+ employees) and 74 per cent amongst semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers.  Similarly, over four out of five employees (82 per cent) said they don’t choose to hide these skills on purpose - their employers simply don’t ask about relevant skills that could benefit their business.  When asked who they would turn to if they wanted to discuss their hidden skills over a fifth (22 per cent) said they wouldn’t tell anyone.

Kirstie Donnelly, Director of Products and Marketing, learndirect Business, said: “By harnessing the hidden skills of potential superhero employees, bosses can transform not only their business but also maximise their employees’ full potential.

“Effective training is the key to unlocking hidden skills and ensuring employees meet the day to day business objectives.  For example, an employee may run a football team or do voluntary work for a  charity. These activities will have given them presentation or organisational skills that can be used to inspire or motivate clients and colleagues.  These skills can be refined via a learndirect Business course in presentation, management or leadership skills.”

“We're calling on both employers and employees to talk to each other about hidden skills and realise this hidden potential,” explained Kirstie. “Not only does it make good business sense but it also motivates and empowers employees.”

Facts and figures from the research:



Results published with kind permission from learndirect Business.


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