Contact Consultation

Workers struggle to achieve true potential in global firms

Companies are unclear on what motivates their staff to learn and improve their skill sets, which is leading to wasted potential, according to a new global study released today by EF Corporate Solutions, the leader in corporate language training.

“Companies, especially multinationals, need to understand that there is no one-size fits all approach to motivating people, particularly when you’re dealing with a global workforce,” said Peter Burman, President of EF Corporate Solutions. “There are huge by-country differences, for example, competition-based techniques work well in Russia but in Sweden are one of the least-effective tools. In Brazil, on the other hand, rewards are the most-effective technique.

“Different factors motivate employees to start training from those that keep motivation levels up during a training program. Once companies understand these intricacies, they’ll start to see course take-up rates increase. Ultimately, you want to help people be the best they can be, but how you get them there depends on a lot of things.”

This new global study, published by EF, is entitled Decoding motivation: global insight into motivational drivers of corporate training. It is based on data from over 1,000 senior executives responsible for staff development, and covers ten countries: Brazil, China, France, Germany, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Sweden, UK and the US. The report aims to shed light on effective motivational techniques and strategies. The study also found:

  • 53% of businesses say they often have issues persuading staff to begin and complete courses despite the majority of workers saying they are willing to learn.

  • There are big differences between countries in their willingness to undertake training. Some 62% of respondents in Brazil and 60% in China say employees are very willing to undertake training. By contrast European countries are more sceptical and willingness is lower: Germany (32%), Spain (34%), Sweden, UK and France (all 38%).

  • Employees in mature economies are harder to motivate: only 3% of respondents in Germany and 9% in the UK rarely have problems motivating employees to undertake training.

  • 81% of respondents see ‘rational thought’ as having a role in motivation, most notably considerations of career and wage prospects. Companies therefore need to make sure that training has an expected tangible benefit, and that this is made clear to the employee.

  • 57% of respondents see emotions having a role in motivation to begin training, most notably curiosity, enthusiasm & excitement. The employer can try to stimulate these emotions by generating intrigue around the training course and building a teaser campaign around its launch.

  • Surprisingly, companies seem to think that responsibility for motivation to undertake training should lie mainly with the employee. Some 41% of respondents think motivation should be driven mainly by the individual, and another 13% think solely by the individual. This balance needs to be redressed if companies are to reap better returns from their training programs.

The report recommends that companies need to take more of an active role in motivation, and that putting all responsibility on the employee is a sure route to failure. They need to understand what motivates staff, bearing in mind that the factors will evolve as training progresses and are also likely to differ between countries. They need to create and implement effective strategies that take account of these motivational factors and incorporate a range of techniques. Only with effective motivation will the benefits of training be fully realised.

Download the full report and view additional rankings, insights and graphs at:

For further information, please contact:

Sam Grace
Marlin PR (on behalf of EF Education First) +44 (0) 207 932 5580


About EF Corporate Solutions

EF Corporate Solutions, an EF Education First company, is the world leader in language training for businesses, governments and the educational sector. With over 40,000 employees, a worldwide network of offices in over 50 countries, and language courses available for every business need, EF CS is the chosen language partner of many of the worlds most respected businesses. For more information please visit: