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PayScale’s Professional Development Research Provides New Roadmap as More Companies Cite Training as Top Priority to Retain Employees

The research showcases which training matters most to which employees; findings also reveal surprising distinctions by gender and generation

Seattle, WA – October 29, 2019 PayScale, Inc., the leader in modern compensation data and software, released a new report called Professional Development: What Employees Want  The new research was conducted in response to findings in PayScale’s most recent Compensation Best Practices Report that revealed a sizable 59 percent of respondents planned to invest in professional development as a retention strategy in 2019 to keep their best employees – second only to increasing pay at 61 percent. The report ranks preferred professional development programs and also provides specific insights into these programs by gender, industry, occupation and generation. The results show that management and leadership training is the most popular type of professional development, followed closely by professional certifications.

“In our competitive talent economy, more employers are realizing the value of professional development to define career pathways for their most ambitious employees and, ultimately, to retain their best people at the organization,” said Wendy Brown, Director at PayScale. “While there are some significant trends, our research shows professional development is really not a one-size-fits all approach. Employers should take the time to truly understand which programs and training opportunities would be most important to help every employee progress in his or her career in a meaningful way.”

PayScale’s new research is designed to provide unique insights for employers to consider as they build their professional development programs at their organizations. Key findings include:

  • Management & Leadership training was the top-ranked employee professional development program with 32 percent of respondents stating it was the training they were most interested in pursuing; followed by professional certification (30 percent) and technical skills training (17 percent).
  • Several professional development programs proved to be less popular, as they were ranked “most interesting” by less than ten percent of respondents. These include teamwork/interpersonal skills training (8 percent), employer-subsidized degree (7 percent), communications/public speaking (4 percent) and diversity and inclusion training (2 percent).
  • Men were more likely than women to say they wanted professional development to get a promotion (37 percent versus 32 percent), while women were more likely to state the reason was to receive a pay raise (35 percent versus 30 percent).
  • Employees in the healthcare industry indicated they were most interested in professional certifications (36 percent) from the selection of training program options. Likewise, employees in human resources were the most likely to want professional certification (43 percent) when compared to other occupations.
  • Millennials were more likely than Baby Boomers to be interested in professional development across the three top programs: management/leadership training, professional certification and technical skills training. However, Boomers were more interested in teamwork/interpersonal skills training and public speaking training than Millennials.

For additional insights about trends in professional development and more the results from PayScale’s Professional Development: What Employees Want research, please visit:

About PayScale:

As the industry leader in compensation data and technology, PayScale helps organizations #getpayright. PayScale is the only technology solution for managing compensation that provides multiple streams of fresh, transparently curated, and validated salary data. Combined with modeling engines that learn continuously and generate recommendations and insight, PayScale empowers HR to price jobs and adjust compensation to reflect near real-time changes in the market — all on one trusted data platform. With PayScale’s Adaptive Compensation Advantage, teams operate with efficiency, focused on outcomes rather than manual data management. To learn how companies like The Washington Post, Perry Ellis International, United Healthcare and The New York Times rely on PayScale to attract and retain top talent, engage employees and plan their future workforce, visit

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