We have created a learning solution focused on humans. We spent a lot of time learning about these humans. Here is what we found out.

When imagining a new approach focused on developing the human, getting to know humans is a great idea. As we suggested a completely new focus for development and an entirely different way of learning, we needed to find the people who would most likely be up for helping us.

We imagined that the world, for the most part, wasn’t keen to embrace change. When it comes to learning, especially, how things are done is deeply encoded. So, we were looking for the 5 or 10% who would embrace the challenge.

We formulated ten statements that we felt described the person we needed. Having read about the desires, needs, and drivers of working professionals in the 21st century, those people highly aligned with these statements could be the hearts and minds we need to act as ambassadors for our approach.

What we found out inspired us.

We realised we could afford to show more courage and believe that people are more ready for something different than we could have imagined. Rather than 5 or 10% showing the attitudes and drivers for change, we found that closer to 50% of those surveyed stepped up.

Then, we realised, these results were too important to keep to ourselves. The humans in the workplace want more from life and feel ready to accept more from Learning and Development. So, we wrote up a report on the results, so our colleagues in L&D could be inspired too.

You are about to learn a lot about the humans in your workplace, I know we did.


The manufacturing sector has long been core to the economic success of most countries. Importing and exporting products has grown wealth in a world that likes to make things. It is also a sector most impacted by changes in the ways of working, with significant complexities in skilling and upskilling the workforce. Therefore, it should be interesting to employers that almost half of those professionals surveyed within this sector wanted control over their personal and professional development.

While worries about employment might be low amongst this sample, concerns over the financial situation are high. While job insecurity might not impact the people surveyed here, there is a general concern about the financial situation. It may be why this group's optimism levels are lower than average across other sectors.

This high-level insight into the manufacturing sector reveals some of the complexity of managing the humans who work here. The success of organisations in this sector relies on the people employed to deliver.

What other insights could you gain by focusing on the humans within your company?

Infographic about the humans in Manufacturing


Construction professionals offer the broadest range of concerns in all sectors. While they have a low sense of responsibility for making the world a better place, they have one of the highest beliefs in their ability to be the difference needed. They have the highest concern about employment levels in all sectors and yet are happy to declare they love having a good time.

One of the stand-out findings from the survey of 2,000 professionals is that construction professionals are most driven by a sense of purpose. When you see the product of your work in what you have built, it is easy to see why this might be. There is the parable of the bricklayer to offer insight here. One man merely lays bricks, and another man is building a place where you can worship.

The range of attitudes and concerns in construction highlights the complexities of managing people for businesses in this sector. Understanding what motivates the people who drive construction can lead to the potential of a company being realised.

Infographic about the humans in Construction


The survey of 2,000 professionals revealed that those working in retail were most concerned about the state of the financial system, with 40% stating this to be their greatest worry. Maybe it is not surprising that those on the sharp end of people’s spending ability are most impacted when budgets are stretched.

Worth noting is that retail professionals are equally driven by financial reward and purpose. Most other sectors saw a higher affinity with a sense of purpose. Understanding what drives professionals gives a greater opportunity to motivate the talent within an organisation, and it would seem that those in retail want to feel purposeful and rewarded for this. With only a third of those in retail feeling responsible for improving the world, more practical drivers dominate.

Yet, the most significant data point for retail is that half of all surveyed declared they wanted control over their personal and professional development. It seems those in retail are driven by a desire to be responsible for achieving their potential.

Infographic about the humans in Retail

Financial Services

It is not surprising that financial matters dominate the minds of those in financial services, with 43% singling out the state of the financial system as their biggest concern and more driven by financial reward than purpose. Potentially more interesting is that so many, at 44%, are also driven by a sense of purpose.

Of the five concerns offered in the survey, the climate was a much lower priority than health and financial matters. Almost a fifth of professionals surveyed in financial services feel the looming concern of climate change, which is more than most others.

The need for a good time (60%) and going on adventures (52%) stands out of all the data points. The majority of those surveyed showed that they felt there was more to life than work, and for employers, this is something that can help evidence the need for a better balance for professionals.

Infographic about the humans in Financial Services

Hospitality and Leisure

Of all professions, it is likely that the hospitality and leisure sector was most impacted by COVID. For a huge chunk of two years, the sector could not work and relied on government intervention to keep it afloat. Therefore, it is unsurprising that health comes a long way above all others on the list of concerns.

Although only 11% of the profession was concerned with social justice, this was the highest of all sectors. It is the only profession that got into double digits for this issue and was the only one to prioritise these over concerns for the climate. Understanding that social justice is a significant driver for a 10th of all surveyed could help employers see a route to recruiting and retaining talent with strong policies in this area.

Yet, the most significant statistic for hospitality and leisure sector employers is the difference between those driven by purpose over financial success. Equally, 56% wanted control over personal and professional development. These data points suggest that people in this sector take their career and its impact seriously.

Infographic about the humans in Hospitality and Leisure


Accountants defied the expectations of the researchers more than any other profession. 79% leaned into wanting to have a good time. While all sectors were higher in this statement than others, the mean percentage was closer to 50%. Therefore, there is a significantly higher affinity for a good time with accountants.

It is also significant that accountants are the most optimistic for the future (51%). This data point could correlate with the zero percentage of accountants who worry about employment. People will always need to manage money, so why wouldn’t you be optimistic about the future?

For those employing accountants, it is more significant how much they are driven by purpose and want to control the direction of their career. Tapping into these desires could be the best way to retain the top talent you have recruited.

Infographic about the humans in Accountancy

IT and Telecommunications

IT and telecommunication professionals are the most concerned about the climate, are most likely to believe they can make a difference to the world and crave the odd adventure or two. Professionals in this sector are more outward looking and energetic than you might imagine. There feels something visionary about this combination of stats that could be a useful guide for employers. At the very least, it must be noted how much more driven by purpose than any financial success they are.

The balance of this profession's concerns is more significant than any single data point. While they are less concerned about social justice (5%), climate, employment, health, and finances are much more balanced. It is unsurprising that in a time of cost of living crisis and with the impact of COVID still real, that health and the state of finances were highest.

Of all the sectors, IT and Telecommunication defied expectations. Yet, the sector is diverse, and any sense that it is only made up of coders working in small agile teams needs challenging.

Infographic about the humans in IT and Telecommunications

Media, Marketing, Advertising, PR and Sales

The media, marketing, advertising, PR, and sales sector are driven. It is possible that they were the most knocked by the recent health crisis, with 54% citing this as their top concern. Yet, every other marker in the data suggests they are powerfully optimistic about the future (51%) and want to make a difference in the world (63%).

They are also the sector that most love having a good time (80%) and have the biggest dreams (63%). This sector has a real pioneer spirit and a desire to make a splash. It is unsurprising that a sector that focuses so much on the reaction of the outer world and its impact on it should develop such a strong profile.

This insight into the media, marketing, advertising, PR, and sales sector is a call to action for employers. It is going to take an equal amount of energy to retain such talent in any organisation.

Infographic about the humans in Media, Marketing, Advertising, PR and Sales

Medical and Health Services

The stand-out data point for medical and health professionals is the difference between those driven by financial success and those by purpose. While it is possible for respondents to be driven by both factors, 16% more identified a sense of purpose as their driver. Significantly, 47% also believed they could make a difference in the world, which suggests a desire to be more heroic than most.

With comparably low numbers with big dreams (37%) and optimism for the future (37%), this sector is struggling more to believe that there is much to hope for. There could be a certain battle-weariness in the sector after the stresses and strains of the COVID pandemic.

Significantly, more than half (53%) want control over their personal and professional development, demonstrating that ambition to be the best they can be for this world.

Infographic about the humans in Medical and Health Services


How can we explain the contradiction between the concerns and the drivers of those in the educational sector? 45% are concerned about the financial system, yet only 27% identify as being driven by financial success. This sector might be more concerned for their clients (the learners) than they are themselves. This would be supported by the lower number that are optimistic for the future.

Significantly, no one in the educational sector showed concern for social justice.There isn’t enough data to delve into the reasoning behind this. Some guesses can be made, but they would be only that. It might be that they are embroiled in a levelling-up process and feel there is work being done to address social injustice. They could see the other four options as ultimately more pressing and outside their control.

The data might suggest that those in the educational sector are driven to make the world better and find it challenging to make the difference they feel they could.

Infographic about the humans in Education

Transport and Distribution

The general trend across the data points for transport and distribution is lower than average. They are less driven by financial success and purpose than most other sectors; they don’t believe they can make a difference or share any responsibility to make the world better compared to other sectors.

While an uncharitable view is that the sector is downbeat and defeated, it might be better to view the professionals here as pragmatic and logical. Many of the descriptors that define drivers are aspirational and conceptual, and it may be that getting the job done well is enough.

The balance of concerns reflects the impacts of COVID and the cost-of-living crisis on a sector that was hard hit. The specific focus on health, with 37% stating this as their top concern, shows how much the responses might reflect the time when the survey was taken.

Infographic about the humans in Transport and Distribution

I hope you learned a lot about the humans in your workplace, I know we did. Let me know your thoughts by email to [email protected].

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