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Culture Couch: State of the American Workplace

Todd McDonald

Culture Couch: State of the American Workplace

Link to webinar: State of the American Workplace

What to employees really want in the American workplace and how can organizations and leaders provide it? Auzmor’s latest edition of Culture Couch explores the effectiveness of proper training and how businesses can encourage and hone the talent and development of their employees.

Host: Sean O’Brien (Principal, Business Development Executive at Auzmor, Inc.)

Speaker: Todd McDonald (A community and business leader for over 30 years, owner of two successful businesses focused on talent and development, currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Iowa Entrepreneurs Association, Waukee Betterment Foundation, Urbandale Chamber of Commerce, and on the Advisory Committee of the Ken Blanchard Companies.


Sean O’Brien: Welcome to Auzmor’s Culture Couch. I’m Sean O’Brien. Today my guest is Todd McDonald of ATW Training Solutions and New Horizons Computer Learning Center of Des Moines.

Todd, I call you the human Google of talent development statistics and trends. However, I don’t think anyone can figure out as much as you know on Google. For the audience, we went through a rundown of the podcast the other day, and I had to stop Todd because he was giving so many incredible statistics in a five minute period. I told him that we need to get it on film. 

Todd McDonald: Statistics is data. I love data. It’s one of those things that I’m kind of obsessive about, but I have to turn it down a little bit every once in a while. I think it’s that whole database decision making that organizations have to look at, so always play around with it and try to figure out some things. 

Sean O’Brien: ATW and the Association of Talent Development (ATD) does this incredible survey every year. I want to talk a little bit about the survey results for this year. What trends are you seeing? Anything stand out to you as far as big changes? 

Todd McDonald: Let me back up and do a level set as far as the surveys are concerned to make sure that everybody understands in case they want to look up some of these things. I come from a human resources and training background. When I was in training positions and HR positions, one of the things that I always looked forward to every year was getting the end of the year statistics from what is formerly known as the Society for Training and Development, but is now ATD. They would provide the results and say “here’s where training was last year.” You could really use it as a benchmark within your function of, “Where should I be, or How do I measure up?” 

I started my business a little bit over 20 years ago, and one of the things that I wanted to do at that time was use the ATD survey, but it is more of a national survey. I said, “Iowa doesn’t always relate directly to national.” We always used to joke around that ATD would say that the average training salary is this and how we don’t get paid that. I wanted to find out more about what’s happening here because while we do business on a national basis, a lot is here in Iowa. 

I wanted to find out what’s going on in Iowa as far as that survey is concerned. We have done an annual survey with our customers now for 14 years. We’ve also partnered with The Society for Human Resource Management and the local ATD chapter and, and sent this out. We’ll send it out every year to about 1500 to 2000 organizations asking them for their feedback. What we’re doing then is we’re looking at it and we’re getting the information from them. That way we look at what’s going on in the state of Iowa, but then we can also compare it to how we stack up on a national basis. 

That’s kind of the level set on all of that. When you look at some of the things going on in Iowa, we put together an infographic. (I know we’re going to make that available to everybody.) The thing that jumps out, the first questions that we always ask is, “What is the basis for, and what are the budgets for, talent development and organizations?” How strongly do organizations feel like talent and development is important? What we found this year as we finished the survey in September was that 53% of organizations said that their budget was not going to go down. It was going to remain flat. 

Then 41% said it was actually going to go up. I look at that as a positive. I look at that as 90-95% of organizations say it’s going to stay the same or continue to go up. That’s a positive sign for business. If you look at where the economy is right now it’s an economy that is as stable as you can say with all the political things that are going on. I don’t want to get into that conversation, but, at the same time, it’s an economy that is a little bit risk averse right now. They’re not going to go out and try a lot of crazy things with it. I was very happy to look at that and to see that the companies that we’re working with and the companies that others are working with are still committed to that budget. Now, when you compare that and you look at a national level, I think that Iowa was probably a little bit stronger than what you might see on a national level standpoint as far as where those budgets are. 

Where Iowa starts to lack a little bit is how much time are they willing to allow  their employees to spend going into that. I grew up in Iowa, and we’ve always been a work hard type of environment, whether it’s the agriculture background that we have, the manufacturing background, and everything else. We’re very “work hard,” and training can sometimes be set aside a little bit. 

Sean O’Brien: I would definitely agree with that. 

Iowa’s Slow Progress in Training Employees

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