Everything You Need to Know About Employee Development


Businesses must create and maintain proper employee development programs in order to optimize not only their individual employee's performance but their entire business's bottom line. In fact, businesses that invest $1,500 or more on training per employee per year average 24% higher profit margins and 218% higher income per employee.

What is Employee Development?

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Employee development is a strategic tool used for a business's continued productivity, growth, and ability to retain good employees. Employers often time must invest in developing current employees as opposed to onboarding new staff members. New employees necessitate extensive training and are unfamiliar with your business. Alternatively, by developing current employees, you not only retain staff members long term but you also promote a company culture of loyalty, satisfaction, and respect. Although investing in employee development has been proven to be well worth the benefit, 45% of managers are unconfident in their abilities for training employee skills they urgently need.

A proper development program will-

  • Assemble a pool of prime candidates
  • Help current employees rise within the company
  • Assist with pinpointing and addressing various strengths and weaknesses in individual employees

Why Does Employee Development Matter?

An investment in employee development is an investment in your company. There are many benefits to employee development, including-

  1. Competitiveness- Employees are a business's greatest investment and asset. And competent and motivated employees are a rare resource. 75% of human resource professionals reporting a shortage of skills in candidates for job openings and 83% express difficulties in their recruiting processes.

    An exceptional employee development program is an added perk for enticing the best talent to come work for you as opposed to your competitors. Employee development also increases profitability, as customers are more attracted to a highly developed workforce that is constantly improving.

  2. Productivity- Employee development programs make it easier for your human resources department to find, onboard, and train new talent. Hiring a subpar employee can have huge financial consequences and be detrimental to your entire business.

    Employees who are provided adequate training and educational resources are more productive than their counterparts. Your business can secure a competitive edge while adjusting to ever-changing marketing conditions.

  3. Retention- It is a common misconception that employers who invest heavily in their employees' development are just priming them to leave the company with their new or improved skill sets. However, employee training increases attendance and retention rates.

  4. Benefit- An employee development program is an attractive feature to in-demand employees. Employees who are actively looking for ways to grow with your company may consider your development system a deciding factor in which company they choose to go work for.

    This is especially the case when hiring hourly workers who do not have the same financial benefits that their salaried counterparts have. Hourly workers may be positively swayed by a solid and established employee development.

    Whether your employees are hourly or salaried an employment development system will more efficiently onboard and retain new talent.

  5. Reputation- A company's reputation is important. Establishing a reputation as a good employer is excellent not only for new potential employees but also for both current employees and your customers.

    Current employees may feel uncomfortable disclosing their professional information if they know their business has a bad reputation, but if your company is known for its development programs they can feel proud when disclosing your company name. Customers are also happier to support companies that treat their employees well.

  6. Trust- Employees will feel more loyal and trusting to a company that is invested in their personal growth. Whether your investment is larger through an education program or as small as a book allowance, demonstrating to your employee that you care about their growth will likely result in them caring about the company's growth.

    Loyal and trustworthy employees are the foundation of a successful and longlived company. Happier employees are less likely to look for alternative employment and more likely to be satisfied in their roles long term.

The Effects of Poor Employee Development

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Poor employee development will not only negatively impact individual employees but your entire business. Main effects of insufficient development programs include-

  1. Lack of competitive edge- If your employees do not keep up with ever-evolving industry standards, your business will soon follow in becoming outdated. Keeping your employees sharp will translate directly into your company's innovative capacity. Combat this by providing your employees with classes, coaching, mentorships, and seminars whenever possible.

  2. Legal issues- It is not enough to adequately train your employees while onboarding and then fail to update them as safety compliance and quality standards change. Employees who are not up to date about regulations are much more likely to make costly mistakes.

    More severe mistakes could result in lawsuits, fines, or even criminal negligence charges for your company. For the safety and satisfaction of employees and your customers, keep your employees up-to-date with safety standards.

  3. Performance problems- Without a proper training program and consistent check-ins, employees may develop or deepen performance issues in the workplace. Unproductivity is toxic and will likely seep into all areas of your business if not immediately remedied, or even more ideally, proactively avoided through an outstanding employee career development program.

How to Improve Employee Development

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Employee engagement is a worldwide problem, with only 30% of employees in the United States and 13% of employees outside of the United States feeling engaged with their companies. There are many ways to improve employee development including-

  1. Individual roadmaps- Sit down with your employees and have a genuine conversation regarding their career path, interests, and any concerns they have. Creating employee roadmaps will help streamline their goals. It is helpful to create due dates for these goals and incentivize goals wherever possible. This process is especially crucial for employees who are struggling to understand their own goals and how they align with your company.

  2. Cross-training- Encourage employees to receive training in departments outside the one in which they immediately function. Diversifying the experiences, roles, and responsibilities that your employee takes on will help to keep them challenged and engaged.

    In order to properly train an employee for upper management or executive role, they must understand the interworkings of all your company's departments. After having exposure to other roles and their responsibilities, your employees will be better able to collaborate with one another on inter-departmental objectives!

  3. Feedback- Constructive feedback and consistently administer performance reviews to improve development. Make sure to incorporate individual development plans and have specific examples ready to discuss when providing your employees with feedback.

    When feedback is used to acknowledge growth and accomplishments, it is much more effective than when it is strictly used for punitive purposes. Be curious about the successes, failures, and frustrations your employees are experiencing and implement employee feedback in business decisions whenever appropriate.

  4. Networking- Lead by example to help employee networking soft skills develop. When you see the potential for a mentorship opportunity, reach out to your contacts and link them with your employees if all parties are interested and okay with it.

    If you do not have an extensive network or feel comfortable doing so, make sure to offer other networking outlets. These outlets can include company hosted networking events, associations, and paid training workshops. You never know how networking will pay off in the long run and the positive benefits can be resounding for your business.

How to Make an Employee Development Plan

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Creating a development plan for your employees is a win-win situation for businesses and their employees. The great news is that many businesses see the value of employee development with 82% of businesses planning to develop employees more in the upcoming 12 months. Thankfully there are steps business professionals can take while developing their plans, including-

  1. Individual development plans- As discussed before, individual employee development plans are a great way to start your employee development process. Meet face-to-face with current employees and get curious about their plans, skills, and career path. Create specific goals with them that are actionable and realistic instead of vague milestones that are more difficult to quantify and track. Your individual employees and your entire business will benefit from effectively developing existing employee skillsets
  2. Incorporating goals- Develop objectives that reflect your business's core values, company culture, and mission statement. Clear short and long-term goals will help you understand what type of talents your business needs to focus on developing. From there, you can form a development plan to bridge the gap existing between current employee capabilities and those needed. Make sure to analyze where you can develop internal candidates before turning to expensive outsourcing
  3. Translate into work- Make sure to provide both offline and online learning opportunities in the workplace for your employees to practice their new skillsets. Not only will this improve their skills, but it will help solidify them, as we are less likely to lose new knowledge if we use it shortly after learning it. Besides, your business financially invested in the skills, it's only fair that your business is benefited by them as well!
  4. Develop an action plan- Decide which type of development program you will offer including which resources you will make available for your employees. Below are some ideas about what your plan may offer-
  • One-on-one coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Formal training
  • Group seminars
  • Industry conventions
  • Book allowance
  • Hands-on training

    Remember to factor in time-off that may be needed as well as finding someone to cover for employees while they are engaged in development program functions. Make sure to create a schedule or timetable to measure important milestones and keep your plan on track.

How to Improve Employee Development Plans

Regardless of your specific industry type, there are universal ways to improve development plans, including-

  1. Dedicate time- Find time slots that work and commit them to work on your development plan. At the very least, set aside a few hours per month. For larger or geographically spread-out teams, consider a more flexible online learning program that is accessible at any time.

  2. Invest- With tremendous both short and long-term returns, the initial investment in your employees is well worth it. Research programs to make sure that they are not only highly-rated but that they will be relevant and challenging to your employees.

  3. Look inward- You may not need to outsource as much as you initially would think to develop your employees to their optimal potential. Most of what we learn actually occurs between coworkers informally.

  4. Reward- Acknowledge both teams and individuals on the great work that they have done. Incentivizing and recognizing a job well done will help keep your team motivated and on-track to accomplish both short term and long term goals.


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  • Employee development is the system that makes sure a business's consistently retains good employees, productivity, and growth
  • An investment in employment development is an investment in your entire company, businesses that invest $1,500 or more towards training per employee per year net an average of 24% higher profit margins and a shocking 218% more income per employee
  • Talented job seekers may heavily weigh an exceptional employee career development and training program when making their decision about which company to work for
  • A proper program will lessen chances of your business facing costly legal repercussions or having your reputation damaged
  • There are many ways to improve your development program, including individual employee plans, consistent feedback, and providing networking opportunities
  • Look inward at your existing talent pool and see where you can develop before outsourcing and hiring on new staff members
  • Make sure you reward both teams and individuals on a job well-done to encourage them to continue developing into the most productive employees they can be