What is employee development?

What is employee development?

It is the process in which the employer and employee(s) collectively participate in learning opportunities to develop new or existing skills, behaviors and approaches. Development can be in role, classroom or virtually based, coaching, formal learning or simply reading or taking part in an action learning group. It takes many forms and can be related to improving performance in role or preparing employees for future roles or future changes.

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Training and development vs Learning and development

Training and development includes educational activities within a company created to inform or expand knowledge and skills for a specific role or for future roles. It can also be provided to support organizational change or growth.

Learning and development involves a systematic process to build employee competence and drive business results. This type of development focuses on acquisition of knowledge, skills, and attitudes to close skill gaps among employees and teams. The goal is to create a learning culture to address current and future capability needs of the organization. Think: Onboarding, soft skill development, or team training.

The impact of employee development on performance and productivity

Employee development can increase engagement, enhance productivity, and lead to greater loyalty and retention. By investing in staff development solutions, organizations equip their employees for success, prepare them to take on new challenges, and motivate them to explore innovative solutions.

When organizations invest in employee development workers often find more meaning and relevance in tasks, assignments, and projects. As a result, employees are likely to feel more engaged and confident in the output of their efforts. In turn, they may be more inclined to offer support to peers as they pursue development goals and engage in learning activities.

How to determine key areas for employees development

Tools such as 360-degree surveys and employee assessments can be used to identify key areas of development for employees. On a group level, consider relevant knowledge or skills to advance both personal and team objectives. From an individual perspective, focus on professional aspirations and skill development priorities that can foster role or career progression.

Proven ways to improve employee development practices

Employee development begins with providing onboarding and learning opportunities from the first day on the job. It is also helpful to motivate and teach managers how to become effective coaches to foster a supportive learning environment. Promoting cross-functional collaboration can increase information sharing and enhance interpersonal relationships. Offering a balance of technical and soft-skills development helps to maximize individual and collective contributions.

  • How to create an employee development plan

    When creating an employee development plan, focus on what matters by setting clear objectives and use data-driven methods (like assessments) to target development needs. Identify relevant learning steps and resources, taking care to dedicate enough time for developmental activities. Provide opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction and learning reinforcement to make learning stick. Define specific measures of success to evaluate progress.

  • Common types of employee development

    Employee development activities range from one-time training events to expansive learning and development programs. Common activities include classroom-style instruction, e-learning, certifications, coaching, virtual instructor led courses, and on-the-job training.

  • Essential elements of an effective employee development plan

    An effective development plan includes continuous development of employee capabilities, a values-based learning culture that emphasizes community, and vehicles for motivating and engaging employees to develop in their role and grow in their career. The benefits of implementing such a strategy include attracting and retaining top talent, and increased innovation, performance, and productivity.

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