Gallup 12: Unlock Employee Engagement through Development Opportunities


March 18, 2022

Employee engagement requires an intentional balance of factors to ensure that employee needs for psychological, professional, and individual needs are met – especially in the time of remote work. Gallup’s Q12 Employee Engagement Survey measures these factors by breaking them down into 12 key questions. 

Providing Development Opportunities is Key to Employee Engagement

In this blog, we’ll explore the question the Gallup 12 question exploring employee’s feelings about learning and growth opportunities and employee engagement: “This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.”

The good news: most companies have *some* dedicated resources, programs and budgets to employee development. The less great news… Workers need more skills development opportunities and their employers know it, according to the index: 49 percent of employees want to develop their skills but don’t know where to begin—this is up 6 percentage points compared to 2021—and 66 percent of employers believe the same. 

Millennials feel the need for development opportunities even more strongly than the average employee. Research shows that millennials have a fundamental desire to “learn and grow” in the workplace. This shows up in the research as an overwhelmingly present desire for employee development opportunities being cited as a key consideration of what is important to millennials in a job. Engagement studies from Gallup Q12 employee research reveal that for millennials, as tenure increases, employee engagement typically drops. 

  • 59% of millennials say opportunities to learn and grow at work are extremely important.
  • 87% of millennials rate professional or career development as important to them in a job.
  • 60% of millennials who say they have opportunities to learn and grow at their job are planning to be at their current job a year from now.

Despite the overwhelming interest in development opportunities, it’s overall a missed opportunity for employers that may be negatively impacting employee engagement. 

The opportunities currently being provided by companies are lacking in frequency and quality. Learning and development events are not happening as often as employees would like, with “slightly less than one in two millennials strongly agreeing that they have had opportunities to learn and grow in the past year.” And the opportunities that are being provided are not meeting individual employees’ needs for growth, with only one-third of millennials say that “their most recent learning opportunity at work was ‘well worth their time’”. 

Empowering Employees to Own their Development Unlocks Engagement 

Unlocking satisfying development starts with providing employees with the right resources to understand and act on their innate interests, basic needs, and desire for growth.

Putting the right tools in the right hands allows employees to begin their development journey, while connecting with fellow employees at their organization and building ties that boost employee engagement. 

Lean into Development That Is Personalized and Proactive 

Learning and growth is a process that needs a solution tailored to each employees’ strengths, challenges, and growth trajectory. Highly personalized development programs are built around flexibility, allowing employees to utilize the experience in the way that best works for them as they gain new ideas and skills. Leaning into personalization helps employees hone their power skills, and integrate these new ideas and skills into quality work.

At Imperative, we believe that meaningful, intentional conversations between associates or fellow employees are a catalyst for empowering employees to recognize, own, and act on their learning and growth and improve employee engagement. 

Uncover Employees Intrinsic Motivation

Addressing the question of “where to start” is the first step in empowering employees in their development journey. Employees need to have a firm understanding of the strengths and challenges of their working style – as well as what drives them and creates a feeling of fulfillment in their work and at their organization. Most employee’s work days don’t create intentional time for reflection around how they’re showing up in their roles, how to develop best friends at work, celebrate successes, and approach roadblocks in a new way. 

At Imperative, we start the learning and growth process with an assessment that uncovers employees’ intrinsic motivations.

Once employees have a grasp on what exactly it is that energizes them and makes them tick at work, they can begin to align intrinsic motivation to their everyday work at their organization. Taking time for reflection on how they can integrate their strengths and interests into their current role empowers employees to lean into their job and connect with fellow employees, career goals, organizational goals, and achieve a fulfilling work experience. 

Create Personalized Opportunities

Personalization is an essential part of providing development opportunities that stick. Each employee has different interests, backgrounds, and experiences, and needs development solutions that are tailor-fit to them as part of their personal growth. 

By diving into the ‘why’ behind employees work in conversations that integrate intrinsic insights, employees can begin to understand learning and growth as it applies to them and their performance outcomes. Employees evaluate what their unique working style is, and how they can harness their individual strengths to fuel their learning and growth. 

Offer Ongoing Opportunities, Not One-Time Trainings

Consistency is key to learning and growth. Learning and growth opportunities should take place over time, helping employees continuously develop in the direction that they want, rather than a one-time training.

A steady cadence of development opportunities allows employees to integrate their development into their roles in the flow of work, rather than for just a short period of time. 

Applying learning over time helps employees hone their skills through practice and experimentation – turning principles and lessons into changed behavior. 

Imperative’s Approach to Development for Ongoing Learning and Growth 

Providing in-depth, personalized, ongoing growth and development opportunities at scale may sound complicated, but Imperative makes it simple. Imperative addresses this challenge by connecting employees across organizations for guided, video-based conversations that explore their personal motivators, basic needs, and empower employees to take actions towards their growth. By putting the right tools in the right hands, employees can embark on a development journey that increases their sense of accomplishment at work:

95% of employees say that Imperative conversations enable them to be more successful

We both were 100% committed to having an engaging, insightful, and critical conversation about our strengths, weaknesses, and future development for ourselves and our team.

Zillow Employee

If you are looking to improve engagement through providing tailor-fit growth and learning, you can learn more about Imperative’s employee engagement activation platform here

See the platform in action