What Is Employee Development?

Employee development aims to promote that the individuals that make up a company are the most valuable assets and are the backbone of the productivity of an organization. Every employee contributes toward the wins or losses of an organization, and employee development must consider the interests of both the employee and the employer. To better skills and knowledge of the workforce, this participation among both parties is crucial.

Employee development can also be defined as the support an employer gives to employees across various training programs to enhance skills and acquire new knowledge and learning. Employees should be developed and prepared to face even the worst situations. Bettering their education is essential to keep up with the times, and employee development helps to nurture and encourage employees to work toward becoming their own valuable resources which, in turn, can benefit the company.

Importance of Employee Development

Employees who give their all to the organization also expect something in return. Money could be one motivating factor, but more importantly, they want to be prepared for future assignments. Employees need to grow with time, and employee development is essential for extracting the best out of them.

Employees really need to give their own careers an extra push, while employers must motivate employees to get into this habit of reading. Employee development helps an employee to do a self-analysis and evaluate their performance from time to time to measure the gap between their current status and their desired status.

Training is important, as it makes an employee self-dependent and capable of facing even the worst circumstances with a smile. Employees hardly leave such organizations when trained along with routine exercises.

Employees that are unsatisfied with efforts made toward their positive and productive development can influence quitting or leaving posts. Employees reported that companies generally satisfy worker's needs for on-the-job development and growth opportunities, which include higher-up jobs and more responsibility in day-to-day tasks and reporting.

But, employees don't seem to receive a lot of formal development, such as coaching, training, and mentoring or education sessions. These are some things that they place a lot of interest and value in. Development planning doesn't have to be elaborate or costly. The core of development planning is mostly a matter of good managers taking the one-on-one time to understand employees, recognizing skills and needs, and guiding employees to fill in the gaps. If done well, the payoff can be substantial in terms of long-term loyalty. If not, the costs can be substantial in terms of long-term talent.

Why Does Development Planning Look Good for Businesses?

Development planning should be something that higher-level employees have a genuine interest and motivation to fulfill. It should not be an obligation that trickles down from HR. Good talented people naturally want to advance, and appreciate meaningful support in the process. The more engaged employees are, the higher the chances are that they'll remain more loyal. If they’re engaged at the workplace, they'll most likely be more productive, too.

Younger employees are eager to learn and desire more education, support, and whatever it takes for them to acquire more skills. They want to become more valuable to their company and obtain the necessary skill set to better their positions. If a company doesn't provide employee development, employees eventually will go elsewhere.

Employee Development Activities

Human resource teams must be the advocates for employees to participate in any training provided by the company. Having them get enrolled in whatever internal or external courses will heighten their professional capabilities and inspire them to do their work effectively and productively. Employees start looking at their job in a negative perspective when the company fails to provide any extras or benefits, which would help that individual's personal growth.

Skill set workshops, wellness programs, and loans of a lower interest rate are a few initiatives that can not only motivate an employee to do their job efficiently and effectively, but also help nurture their learning environment.

Employee Development Plan

Prepare an employee and make him or her understand the value of training. Companies must inspire employees to consider their growth path in the organization. Organizations should think about the skills to be cultivated in employees to hit target growth objectives.

Employees should consider skills that are important to current and future goals. HR professionals can prepare various surveys and questions, which can be distributed among employees. This will give better insight as to the employees' opinions and suggestions regarding the activities that would develop them further. Here are some tips:

  • Prepare various pieces of training, considering the employee's requirements and how each training program would benefit them.
  • Create programs with the needs and demands of the company in mind.
  • Motivate employees to sit face-to-face and be open to working with the trainer.
  • Encourage everyone to work in groups/teams.
  • Let employees contribute their own ideas.
  • Create confidence by trusting the employees.

Employers must sit with employees to understand how certain jobs can be redesigned for an increased output. Employers must sit with employees after each period, review performances, and give suggestions in improving performance.

Developing Effective Programs for Employees in the Modern Workforce

The landscape of today's workplace is always on-the-go and is rather competitive, inspiring employees to look for new ways to develop in their career. According to a study, researchers have found that:

  • Out of 10 employed persons around the world, 4 are disengaged;
  • Reaching the top level or finding a deficit in career opportunities for the future at a company is the major reason why most people leave their job; and
  • From the Millennial generation (those born between 1977 and 1997), 91 percent suppose they will only last less than three years in their current position.

Formal career development programs are gaining popularity in part because these programs help employees acquire the knowledge, skills, and career goals they need. Career development programs are popular because of learning through others, which benefits multiple employees throughout the organization, facilitates knowledge across all levels, and requires less human resources administration time.

Every employee that is lost will cost the company a lot of money to replace (typically two full quarters or more of that employee's yearly salary). This doesn't take any indirect costs of lost productivity into consideration. Modern-thinking companies are looking for more engaging ways to give employees the things they want in order to inspire them to stay in their position. What are they looking for? More focus on their required skills and a means to better what's expected of them through an employee development program.

What Do Employees Want?

A company's employee development also falls in line with their reward program. For today's employee, moving forward towards a great career isn't simply about just moving up (like a promotion).

Most companies are looking toward different managerial structures and removing the middle manager role, which leads to fewer opportunities to be promoted within a company. Reward-oriented Millennials, employees looking for more efficient skills, top talent, and employees looking for a new career path are those who wind up seeking other opportunities.

Creating an Employee Career Plan

A plan that has been thoroughly thought through provides employees with ideas and know-how of how to direct themselves towards achieving an advanced career. A broader skill set enables employees to have more resources to help business move forward. Developing a plan or program for employees shouldn't be done on a whim; rather, it ought to inspire a manager to coach their own employees.

Dealing With Different Needs and Learning Capabilities

Knowledge and skills are easily replaced in a short period of time, which means that employees need to learn faster and more regularly than ever before. This requires companies to rethink how development and learning need to happen and turn it into a continuous experience.

Avoiding information overload also works to both the employee and employer's benefit. It's key for an organization to find the balance between the right amount of information versus overloading an employee with too much too soon. Start by considering what the company's current and future goals are, then identify what education, skills, and competencies are necessary that can align with and support those goals.

Developing internal candidates can save the company time and money on recruiting, onboarding, and training outsiders. Teach employees to own their own career development and customize a learning program that works well for them. Companies need to have "customized" solutions for individuals, guiding employees towards their ideal career path and encouraging them to reinforce their efforts on their own through their advancements in the company. This gives way for offering up a promotion and assists in helping the company retain their most talented team members.

Consider the Learning Environment of Virtual/Digital Teams

Most companies have more employees working from remote locations or working virtually. This requires different thinking and training material, which may include informal mentoring and coaching channels.

If possible, have an in-person discussion with each of the company's workers to get a better idea of the employee's career goals and how the employees think of accomplishing the goals. Employers should also discuss challenges the employees are having in each current position. By have some face-to-face time with the employees, employers can work along with them to figure out what the company can do to facilitate their development plan as well as what opportunities can be offered to the employees.

In order to make the career plan actionable and useful, have managers and employees take a look at and turn into a tour of duty that determines what the next few months to the next few years at the company will look like. The tour of duty should be specific, with measurable goals and an agreed-upon strategy. Creating some kind of schedule can be helpful in giving employees a time frame that encourages them to continue to achieve goals.

A key part of making the tour of duty work is connecting employees to the right people, which often happens through employee development programs. The only way people are going to create strong career plans is by connecting people to those programs.

While creating career plans, it's important to ensure managers include measurable outcomes to determine the financial impact of the program. An employer can track whether employees participating in career development increased knowledge more than those who don't, or whether savings from reduced turnover outweigh associated costs of the program.

To get the most profitable ROI, employees need to be able to exercise their new capabilities and knowledge in the company. Give employees a chance to apply their new skills to their task or position at hand and give them feedback. Opportunities will help employees refine their skills and re-apply them better each time. Leadership will always be interested in the cost and proven outcomes of the career development programs.

Use self-driven, employee development programs that help people take advantage of things like:

  • job shadowing
  • mentoring
  • networking
  • activities and gatherings that involve other people in the organization

Build Trust in Organizational Leadership

People crave transparency, openness, and honesty from their leaders. If managers want employees to engage in any development or learning program(s), then said managers need to lead by example and demonstrate their active participation as well. It's the old adage of "lead by example."

Pair Different Learning Options and Styles Together

There are currently five different generations active in the workforce, and companies must restructure the way their employees are learning. Pairing their learning tools and activities according to the different styles, preferences, and expectations of employees will make this easier for everyone.

Employees are looking for continual learning and continued opportunities, and today's workforce is looking for a new way to engage them. Leaders know the value that these types of programs bring to organizations and want to ensure that the company is maximizing their ROI. Creating a dedicated program for the development of employees not only helps make a company more effective with more knowledgeable employees, but also improves overall employee satisfaction.

Happy Employees Are Less Likely to Leave

By clearly understanding where the times are going when it comes to learning and development programs, companies ought to do what they can to select the right solutions to produce effective results that will increase engagement among employees. In turn, this will boost the company's drive for innovation and productivity.

If you need more information to get a better understanding of employee development or have additional questions surrounding this topic, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.