How Employee Development Inspires Minds, Talent, and Success

  • Andrew
  • April 17, 2019
  • 11 min

.A company is only as strong as its people. There is more than a grain of truth to this wisdom. For employers that want staff that is motivated and ready for the future, there is no better way than to invest in their people with a well-implemented employee development strategy. Read on to discover the importance of employee development for today and tomorrow, how best to implement it, and key takeaways to help your staff achieve their full potential!

What Is Employee Development?

Since the greatest asset of any company is its staff, it is imperative to encourage their growth, and employee development is the means by which to do this. Employee development is a process that looks towards future performance and allows staff to acquire new workplace knowledge and skills through the facilitation of their employers.

Employee development means:

  • Internal/external training schemes
  • Assisting in the fulfillment of your employees’ personal and professional goals
  • Creating opportunities for growth within the company
  • Coaching by managers and leaders

Why Employee Development Is Important

While engaging with employee development may not always yield immediately recognizable improvements, the long-term advantages are certainly apparent. Here’s why you should care about employee development:

    • Increased employee retention.

      There is a clear correlation between employee development and staff turnover, and few things harm a business more than the inability to keep talented, qualified staff. 40% of employees who receive poor training leave within the first year and this is a huge problem when the average cost of hiring an employee is $4,129 (€3,700).

    • Making your workplace more attractive to prospective candidates.

      This leads on from our previous point as a low employee turnover reflects well upon a company. There is no better advertisement for new staff than a happy, loyal workforce. Furthermore, as 45% of millennials say a job that accelerates their professional development is “very important” to them, having well-structured opportunities for internal growth will undoubtedly attract quality employees.

    • Improved employee performance and engagement.

      It’s easy to assume that training your staff would make them more capable – and luckily it’s also true! A well-trained work-force is more efficient, consistent and effective. When employees are confident in their abilities, they remain engaged as they search for new challenges within the company.

    • Create promotable employees.

      55% of employees say they think they could advance professionally if they were offered greater training opportunities. As such, it is important to clear the way for the growth of your staff. Hiring management internally is favorable as the employee will be much more familiar with day-to-day proceedings than an external candidate and will already have built a level of trust within their team. This also keeps turnover low as 47% of internal recruits stay on in their roles for at least three years.

    • Future-proof your workplace with New Work.

      Digitization and automation are rapidly changing the workplace. With 50% of jobs set to be changed by technology, it’s important for leaders and companies to ensure that their teams are ready for the new tasks to come. An effective way to handle this change is through a New Work approach. The key to this is employee development and growth. Staff that learn, change, and adapt stay happier, more productive, and reduce turnover for a stable workplace in an ever-changing work world.

      Curious about the future of work?

      Find all you need to know about New Work and future-proofing your organization here.

Issues and Challenges of Employee Growth Plans

When fewer than 30% of European companies feel confident about the quality and amount of talent in their pipelines, properly executed employee development programs are clearly in need. However, such tactics are often overlooked due to issues and misunderstandings between leaders and departments. Not all CFO’s, for example, can see the workplace value of employee development as clearly as HR managers can. This leads many employee growth and development projects to falter from the beginning with faulty goals, poor funding or bad implementation.

9 avoidable problems with employee development plans:

  1. Funding problems
  2. Time constraints
  3. No space for growth or promotion within the company
  4. Lack of managerial capacity to nurture employees’ needs
  5. Poor implementation of people analytics
  6. Unclear company goals
  7. Inability to identify high-potential candidates
  8. Misunderstanding employees’ personal objectives
  9. Bad communication

Effective Employee Development Methods

Providing employee development should be seen as an investment – a worthwhile one at that. When you give your staff the opportunities they need to grow, the company grows with them, and everybody benefits. Here are some methods to help make that happen:

Initial onboarding

First things first, providing comprehensive training to new-starts is essential. New employees will feel less overwhelmed with their new tasks if they have a solid understanding of company-specific programs and methods.


  • Set clear goals so new employees know what’s expected of them and how they can succeed.
  • Involve the whole team in the on-boarding process and assign a primary mentor to help guide the new employee.


Semi-frequent workshops are a great way to ensure teams (or different departments) are on the same page regarding company processes and procedures. They are also a good way to get any newer employees up to speed. How often you need to offer such training sessions will depend on the complexity of day-to-day operations and the overall competency of your team.


  • Encourage team members to lead workshops if they are knowledgeable in a particular subject. This shows your employees they are trusted and that their skills are valued.
  • View giving presentations as great employee development in itself – many people will relish the opportunity to practice this skill.

Inter-departmental exchange

Providing opportunities for different departments to work with and learn from each other is a great way to create a culture of learning and mutual appreciation. It also exposes employees to a line of work they hadn’t considered before and encourages them to pursue different, more personally fulfilling roles within the company.


  • Have employees from different departments shadow their colleagues and take part in projects they wouldn’t normally.
  • Encourage inter-departmental meetings and workshops.

One-on-one meetings

There is no better way to discover and track the personal and professional goals of your employees than by talking to them. Use your one-on-ones to create personalized development plans tailored to each employee’s particular wants and needs, then find out how you can facilitate them.

>>For a detailed guide to one on one meetings, check out our article here.<<


  • Make sure to set aside time during your one-on-ones to discuss your employee’s growth within the company.
  • Hold one-on-ones at regular intervals to help keep track of your employee’s development.

Virtual/digital solutions and eLearning

This includes online courses and seminars, often offered by accredited colleges and universities. E-learning allows employees to further their knowledge and skills in their own time and, what’s more, there are many free options out there – or at least much cheaper than in-person alternatives!


  • Suggest that employees enroll in online courses that focus on improving skills relevant to company goals – provide a list of suitable options.
  • Offer to pay for any online courses that employees feel may benefit their professional growth.

6 Keys To Implement An Employee Development Plan

Coming up with an effective employee development plan seems like a daunting task, so here are some useful guidelines to help you along the way:

  • Establish your own priorities. Employee development is a two-way street and, to know how you can help an employee grow within the company, you’ve got to establish common goals. Think about what the company needs so you can steer your team in the right direction.
  • Select high-potential candidates. This can be tricky, and we’re not suggesting you show favoritism among your staff. However, some employees are bound to show more interest in progressing than others and it’s important to recognize which ones you should invest more time in.
  • Make a plan together. Let your employee know you have faith in their potential and, together, create a personalized development plan which clearly outlines what you’d both like to be achieved.
  • Facilitate growth. Now you both know what needs to happen, figure out how to do it! Provide any specialist training that may be necessary, encourage your employee to take on new tasks and head up fresh initiatives.
  • Give constructive criticism. Monitor your employee’s performance, let them know how they’re doing and what they need to improve upon to proceed to the next step in their career.
  • Provide incentives and rewards. Make sure your employee knows where all their hard work is leading. While it’s inadvisable to make any promises regarding promotions, increasing their level of responsibility is a great reflection of your trust in them. Of course, if an opportunity to progress within the company arises, encourage them to pursue it.

Key Takeaways

  • Employee development reduces staff turnover and encourages employees to grow within the company.
  • An inter-departmental exchange is a great way to expose staff to new skills and provide opportunities for horizontal development.
  • It’s important to understand your company’s goals to best facilitate your employees’ growth.
  • While employee development may not produce instant results, the long-term advantages make it worth the time invested.

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