Remote workers don’t get equal access to training and development


Teleworking or home workers are not being given the same access as other employees to training and development opportunities, according to a new survey from The Work Foundation.

The Work Foundation’s newly published report The Psychological Contract, looks at how UK companies manage the relationship between employee and employer. It found that remote workers are far less likely to receive the same opportunities for training and development as other employees.

Respondents were presented with a list of development opportunities and asked whether remote workers in their organisations have the same access to these as other employees. Almost three quarters (73 per cent) say they provide remote workers with the same access to training and development, but only around half (55 per cent) always offer the same coaching opportunities. Fifty-one percent provide the same mentoring opportunities. Only 38 per cent provide the same chances for secondments and 36 per cent give them the same opportunities to experience cross-team working.

The report says: “Organisations that do not ensure that remote workers have the same chances for development or promotion as their colleagues risk alienating them and losing their loyalty. Our finding that at least half the organisations with home and teleworkers do not always provide them with the same opportunities for mentoring, secondments and cross team working suggests these organisations may be distancing those employees whose psychological contracts need high maintenance.”

And while experts increasingly agree that a good psychological contract is an integral part of business success, only 13 per cent of the organisations surveyed by The Work Foundation have an explicit strategy for sustaining it.

Almost a third (31 per cent) of organisations said they had no strategy, nine per cent are working on one, 8 per cent did not know what their organisation’s approach was. Thirty-nine percent had an informal approach to maintaining a good psychological contract with their staff.

The survey of personnel and HR specialists also found that few organisations explicitly recognised the importance of the psychological contract to business success. Only 11 per cent made the maintenance of a healthy psychological contract with employees a part of their organisation’s core business objective.

36 per cent said it was part of their organisation’s core business objectives, but in an informal way, and 13 per cent are actively considering formal activities. Almost a third – 30 per cent - answered a straight ‘no’ to the question.

The companies surveyed tended to judge employee morale by measuring changes in absence levels (81 per cent), retention rates (81 per cent) and staff attitude surveys (49 per cent).

Jane Sullivan from The Work Foundation’s surveys and diagnostics team says: “Changes in absence levels, retention or recruitment might indicate to an organisation that there was a change in the psychological contract, but wouldn’t tell you what or why, unless they were followed up with more research.

“Staff attitude surveys are useful for informing organisations about the nature of the psychological contract - and can provide a real insight into the expectations people have of their jobs and employers, as well as what they are prepared to give in return. Staff attitude surveys are also important in helping distinguish between the differing contracts and expectations that different groups of employees may have.”