HR professionals on the importance of personal development in their organization

1 Jun, 2021Tjarda Lamsma

Due to digitization and the corona crisis, 1.6 million jobs are at risk of disappearing in the coming years.

To be a future-proof organization, it is vital to continuously improve the knowledge and skills of employees. Essential skills have proven to go beyond just digital skills, the most important and impactful skills are human skills such as problem-solving capacity and stakeholder management. However digital the world becomes, these skills will keep your employees relevant in their role and prepared for the future.

In collaboration with the Panelwizard research agency, Lepaya conducted an external survey among 1,057 HR professionals in the Netherlands to learn what the view of HR professionals is on the responsibility of personal development. This article is a deepening of the press release that appeared on 11th May 2021.

The urgency of personal development according to employees

Since employees form the core of an organization, we questioned in an earlier research how Dutch employees perceive their relevance in the labor market. This showed that as many as 1 in 6 employees are concerned that their skills will no longer be relevant in the labor market in the future.

Employees are aware that digitization is affecting their employment prospects: 42 percent fear that their skills will no longer be relevant in 20 years. 54 percent of employees do not receive help from their employer concerning their development, the survey showed.

Concerns about the future for both employer and employee

Current research among HR professionals shows that 1 in 3 organizations expect that their employees in ten years time will no longer have the right skill set to perform their work properly. This corresponds to views of the Dutch employees, as mentioned above. What is striking is that organizations estimate that skills will lose relevance even sooner than that.

hr professionals

The larger the organization, the greater the chance that employees will not be able to keep up with digitization. Among large companies (+1000 employees) it is expected that 40 percent of employees will become skills short. At the smaller companies (<25 employees) this is less than 25 percent.

hr professionals

Personal growth, who is responsible?

A whopping 58 percent – 6 out of 10 organizations – believe personal growth, such as refining knowledge and skills, is the responsibility of the employee.

The fact that few organizations seem to take responsibility for the personal growth of their employees contrasts with results from an earlier study on Dutch salaried employees. This showed that 46 percent of employees expect more support from the employer to improve their skills.

Investing in further training and retraining

Despite the fact that a large part of the employers place the responsibility for personal development with their employee, some of the organizations are well aware of the importance of further training and retraining. 31 percent of HR professionals spot a lack of investment in L&D and believe that their organization pays too little attention to the retraining and retraining of employees.

HR professionals under 40 in particular believe that their organization should invest in further training and retraining of employees. 37 percent believe that their organization pays insufficient attention to this.

hr professionals

The lack of focus on further training and retraining seems to be related to knowledge about learning budgets within organizations. Just 52% of those surveyed are aware of the available learning budgets.

Hiring instead of retraining

Moreover, the study also revealed that 36 percent of organizations have no strategy for the training and retraining of employees.

In the event of a skills shortage, 32% are therefore more likely to hire new employees instead of simply helping existing employees develop by training them. By not actively investing in and working on this, organizations are playing with their own future-proofness, not just that of the employees!

Unconsciously incompetent

According to René Janssen, founder of Lepaya, many organizations are not taking the personal development of their employees into account. Results of the study fully support this view. Remarkably, 12 percent of companies have no idea whether their employees currently have the right skills to properly perform their current role.

“The realization that the skills of your employees can make or break your organization is not on the radar of organizations. The current and previous research indicates that both employer and employee are pointing at each other about the responsibility of personal development. Tricky about this is that both parties don’t feel that they carry responsibility, neither feel they are the owner of this crucial topic. It is up to the employer to take responsibility, identify the necessary skills and lead the way ”, says Janssen.

Key to success for HR professionals

On the other hand, the survey also shows that there are many organizations that do put focus on the skills of their current employees. No less than 55% of organizations see further training and retraining as a serious alternative to hiring new people.


A large part of the organizations with over 500 employees make training and retraining an important alternative to hiring new people. For companies with 501 to 1000, 61% want to invest in future-proof employees. For companies with more than 1000 employees, this is 59%.

hr professionals

We believe that investing in skills is the key to success to realize a future-proof organization. Want to know more? Do not hesitate to contact us.