Study Results

Research Reveals Most Googled Employee Training Questions

Bradley Burgoyne, head of talent at DigitsMarlow (UK), August 2022 - New research suggests that it's not just employees who turn to Google when they want to find out more about training at work: their bosses are probably doing it, too. LMS provider Digits analysed thousands of Google search queries to find out more about the types of questions that people asked and the topics they were most curious about in regard to workplace training and development in the UK over the past twelve months.

According to the findings in Digits' study, some of the most frequently asked questions were about whether people get paid to undertake training and who's responsible for paying for that training.

The question "Do you get paid for training at work?" was the joint top result, with an average of 480 monthly searches (that's around 5,800 a year). It's a popular theme, with nearly a third (30%) of the top ten most Googled questions about employee training mentioning the word "paid". As a frame of reference, Digits found that one in five (22%) of the top 108 questions about employee training (with an average of over 50 Google searches a month) contained the words "pay", "paid", or "charge".

Although it's impossible to identify the people asking these questions about Google, the wording they use can, at times, distinguish employers from employees. For example (but not conclusively), people using the words "employee(s)" or "staff", which appear in over a third (34%) of the top 108 training-related queries, are more likely to pose "how" or "what" questions - probably on behalf of their company or as part of their job to enhance their broader knowledge of planning and improving workplace training.
In comparison, people using the words "I", "my", or "you", which appear in around a quarter (24%) of the top 108 training-related queries, are more likely to be employees seeking answers to questions that affect them personally. They tend to favour "do", "can", or "should" questions in a bid to find more "definitive" answers from Google's content.

The most Googled questions about employee training over the past twelve months in the UK were

  • Do you get paid for training at work? - 480 average monthly searches
  • What is training and development? - 480
  • What employee training is required by law UK? - 210
  • What is off-the-job training? - 210
  • What is on-the-job training? - 210
  • Do I get paid for mandatory training UK? - 170
  • How often do day staff require fire training? - 140
  • What is staff training? - 140
  • Why is staff training important? - 140
  • How often do night staff require fire training? - 110
  • Should I be paid for mandatory online training UK? - 110

Bradley Burgoyne, head of talent at Digits, says, "Digits' latest research sheds light on the types of questions that UK workers and their leaders want answers to and the information that they are lacking about staff training. What it highlights to me is that people do want to understand more about what training and development involves and how to make it work for them, which is great because training should benefit employees and organisations equally. It also shows that HR and L&D teams have a real opportunity to spearhead knowledge sharing within their organisation. Thanks to this study, we know the most popular questions that employees are asking, so as employers it's up to us to be more proactive in communicating the answers to those questions to our workforce.

"Perhaps one of the best places to start is with the most-Googled question, 'Do you get paid for training at work?' The answer will depend on your contract. If you were employed after 6 April 2020, your written terms must set out the training that you have to complete, including training your employer does not pay for. It is, however, standard and best practice that employers pay for your time to complete this (e.g. your training is completed during your usual paid working hours, or you receive additional pay for the hours in which you complete this outside of your usual work pattern).

"If you've been asked by your employer to undertake some training that's going to develop your skills and help you do your job better and more efficiently, then again it is best practice to be paid for the time that you spend on that training (in addition to your employer funding the cost for the training), as it's also going to benefit the organisation that you work for. To ensure that you are paid for that time, the training should, ideally, happen within your usual working hours.

"It can be slightly more nuanced for employees who are enrolled on long programmes of training, such as degrees or masters. These types of training usually require a bit of give and take from both parties, and employees would typically be expected to use a certain amount of their personal time (unpaid) alongside any paid study time.

"It is common and healthy for employees to approach their employers with requests to undertake training, attend a course, or get a qualification in something that may or may not be relevant to their role. It's then for both parties to work together to agree who will fund the training and what aspects of the training time will be paid or unpaid. Separately, it's worth noting that you do have a legal right to request time off from work to undertake study or training under Section 40 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, which employers have a duty to consider.

"In most instances, it's important that both you and your employer get all the details and conditions set out in a learning agreement. This agreement should detail who is funding the training and what time off will be paid or unpaid, plus things like whether travel expenses to attend the training and associated learning materials are covered. It will also include a clause about when an employee may have to repay the costs of their training if they leave the organisation within a certain timeframe before or after completing their course, which can also act as an effective retention method for employers."

Digits researchers also investigated the most-searched-for types of employee training in the UK over the past twelve months. To do this, they identified over 100 types of training that UK employers commonly provide and then compared the Google search data results for each.

First-aid training, upskilling, and manual-handling training were the three most Googled types of employee training, with a combined 16,000 average monthly searches.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, six of the top ten are types of health and safety training, such as driver training, safeguarding training, and COSHH (control of substances hazardous to health) training.

The top ten most-searched-for types of employee training were

  • First aid training - 8,600 average monthly searches
  • upskilling - 4,800
  • manual handling training - 2,600
  • driver training - 2,400
  • safeguarding training - 2,200
  • health and safety training - 1,700
  • COSHH training - 1,600
  • management training - 1,600
  • retraining - 1,600
  • sales training - 1,600