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What workers want: An L&D study of European employees

• 4 min read

Are you hungry? We sure hope so, because we’ve just finished preparing a big, wholesome batch of fresh data, locally sourced from over 1500 workers in France, Germany, Italy, and the UK.

This research explored the factors that most impact employee turnover, as well as the role learning programs play in employee retention and attrition.

The results were interesting, though perhaps not shocking. You won’t be surprised to hear that people often become unhappy in a role if they aren’t learning anything new. Or that they tend to care about opportunities for personal and professional growth. Still, it’s always nice to see real, tangible data that confirms what was previously just a hunch.

But don’t worry: We wouldn’t publish a research report without new insights. Some of the most interesting findings surround the differences between the countries we surveyed. There are things all workers find important, like salary (who knew!?), but there are also variables that members of one country care about much more than members of other countries. And for a business that operates throughout Europe, these differences matter.

That’s enough suspense. Let’s dive in.

General findings

Spoiler alert: Europeans care a lot about learning and development.

62% of respondents said that they would consider changing jobs within 12 months if their employer cut (or didn’t offer) learning opportunities to help with their career development. And where would those employees go? Overwhelmingly, to the organizations that do focus on learning. 80% of respondents would be more likely to choose to work for an employer that prioritized continuous learning and development. Taken together, these stats prove that not investing in learning is a huge risk to an organization’s talent strategy.

Hopefully this data will help persuade leaders to invest more in L&D. Of course, there’s always the question of where to invest. And the answer might differ surprisingly depending on what country you’re talking about. Next, we’ll share country-specific insights, as well as recommendations around how you can tailor your learning plan to be the best possible fit for each regional audience.

Country-specific recommendations

This section explores what workers from each country identified as a ‘top three reason you would quit a job or have quit a job in the past.’ The list included ten items, so when you see a figure like ‘52% of Italians would leave a job due to poor management,’ that figure is the number of Italians who listed ‘poor management’ as a top three reason. Therefore, this section is about the relative importance of these factors within and between countries.

France: French employees are the most likely to leave a job due to poor pay (83%) or benefits (39%), and they also care a lot about opportunities to climb the career ladder (44%). Along with the UK, French employees are the most likely (66%) to leave an employer that doesn’t offer learning opportunities to help with their career development. This focus on the hyper-tangible aspects of a role suggest that L&D for French employees should be targeted at practical skills acquisition that can help them grow their career. Invest in industry-leading content and consider leaning into self-directed learning programs, since French employees are motivated to learn on their own.

Germany: German workers are the most likely to leave an organization due to poor culture (33%), slightly ahead of the UK and significantly ahead of both Italy and France. In fact, Germany is the only country where ‘poor culture’ was a top three reason for quitting a job. They are also the most likely to leave a company that’s understaffed (35%). This culture and people focus suggests that social learning might be an especially effective paradigm for German organizations.

Italy: Italian workers are the most likely to leave an employer due to poor management (52%). They also value climbing the career ladder more than other countries (45%, one point ahead of France and 17 points ahead of both Germany and the UK). This paints an interesting picture: Italian workers really want to climb the corporate ladder and they demand talented management at every rung. Therefore, leadership development should be a high-priority focus of any L&D program with a large Italian audience.

The UK: Of all countries, UK employees are the least likely to quit due to having insufficient budget (10%), but they care a lot about being understaffed (34%) and poor management (49%). This suggests a strong capital investment in headcount and skills-based L&D, since UK employees accept resource bottlenecks, but not employee bottlenecks.


For every difference between these four European countries, there is a similarity: No matter where you go, people care about continuous learning, they want to grow their careers, and they want to work for organizations that prioritize their development.

So, if organizations want their talent strategies to succeed, they need to compete (and win) on the dimension of L&D. And if you’re serious about creating a culture of learning, Docebo can help make it happen with the world’s best learning platform.