If you have landed on this page, then you possibly already have a hunch that employee development is very important.
As startups keep cropping up around the world, it is getting difficult for existing companies to hold onto their skilled employees. People leave an organization for a plethora of reasons, and a lack of career development is one of the reasons amongst them.
Today’s businesses operate in an environment that is characterized by a highly competitive business landscape, high complexity, and the digital revolution. It is reshaping the mix of employees. Also thrown into this mix are the challenges of managing a multigenerational workforce and the concise shelf life for knowledge.
The power of the most successful businesses comes from intangible assets— skilled employees, capable leaders, and learning. The transition to a digital, knowledge-based economy elevates the importance of a skilled workforce to higher levels.
All of this has caused a high premium to be placed on employee development.
What is employee development?
Employee development is the process of improving employees' existing skills and competencies. It enables them to develop newer skills to support organizational goals.
Employee development supports the transition of employees to a new role. It also believes in enhancing its abilities and knowledge on a specific subject. Employee development can be initiated at any stage of the employee’s career and is an ongoing process. The L&D teams must constantly measure progress and refine the employee development process to ensure that the learning programs align with the organization's business goals.
Employee development serves five strategic functions:
- Develop people capabilities
- Attract and retain talent
- Motivate and engage employees
- Build an employer brand
- Create a values-based culture
The importance of Employee Development
Now that we understand what employee development is, let's understand why it is important. Here are 5 reasons why it is crucial for a company.
1. Increases the chances of retention
Beyond the usual pay and benefits, top talent look at opportunities for professional development. Employee development programs enable the creation of an attractive workplace. Learning opportunities also motivate employees to stay with the organization, reducing the employee attrition rate. Reduced attrition helps save costs in the long term since investments required for employee development are significantly lower than the cost of hiring and onboarding new people.
2. Improves productivity
Effective employee development programs ensure that they focus on the areas that can not just teach existing teams new skills, but also enhance complementary skills. This, when executed well, will result in better productivity of the employee for the company.
3. Boosts team morale
A good employee development program considers the skill levels of each person within a team and tweaks the training to focus on developing them in a way that they can work in sync with the rest of their team members. When all the people in a particular team have complementary skills, they tend to support each other on a day-to-day basis easily as well as be better teammates for each other to work with. This will eventually lead to better results for the company as well.
4. Better employee engagement
Your HR teams are trying hard to find great ways to keep teams engaged better at work. A good training program that your people may be interested in can do wonders in terms of employee engagement at a company. As explained in the other benefits, these development opportunities do not have to be just focused on their core skills. It can focus on skills that everyone in the company might be interested to learn, like soft skills.
5. Optimization of time
As a business, you know that (especially in the knowledge work area) there will be times when some of your people might not have enough work on their hands to keep them occupied. In these situations, it would help to have long term employee development plans in place. That way, you would have trained teams to work on other complementary skills. You could also assign them to work on areas where they can use their time in a better way as well as contribute to more revenue for the company.
For example, you can train a QA engineer to become a scrum master, so when you no longer require any QA work, you can work with the employee to fill the scrum master role.
6. Performance Improvement
For businesses to remain competitive, they must outperform the competition. Employee development helps organizations meet and even exceed their performance goals. Employees need to be upskilled to meet the future requirements of the organization. The organization can grow by providing opportunities for the teams to grow their skills and competencies.
7. Ability to Handle Unexpected Situations.
Today’s business environment is characterized by constant change. Change comes with challenges and opportunities. Employee development prepares the workforce to handle these challenges and leverage opportunities.
8. Develop Great Leaders
For an organization to remain competitive and thrive long-term, it needs to groom a pool of talented leaders. Employee development helps transform good employees into great leaders.
How to create a strong employee development plan?
The steps to create a strong employee development plan include:
- Assessing Business Goals. The starting point in the design of the employee development plan is the in-depth assessment of the business’s long-term goals. It would include a macro-level examination of your business, the business expansion plans, plans for technology induction, etc. It is also essential to review what is working and what is not in the organization through interviews and surveys.
- Communication with Employees. The involvement of employees in the planning of the employee development plan is crucial for its success. It is, therefore, essential to communicate your business goals to the employees and share the workforce assessment findings with them. Involving employees not only helps create a more rounded and complete employee development plan but also increases their buy-in to the plan - boosting the chances of its success.
- Review the Workforce. This step is required to assess the skill levels and capabilities of employees. It can be done by building a skills matrix listing the skills and competencies that need to be developed or improved. It will also help decide what needs to be done in the future.
- Identify Employee Development Goals. The plan should be focused on what needs to be accomplished for each role. It should be based on existing resources, abilities, and budget. An employee development plan for each role should include creating a learning path, listing the courses, planning job rotation, providing reading recommendations, and personal coaching.
- Monitoring and Tracking Progress. Finally, to assess the effectiveness of the development plan, it is essential to determine its impact on the processes. This can be done by monitoring results at the employee, departmental, and overall organization levels. Assess if targets have been met, employee performance has improved, performance problems have been solved, etc. If the review reveals shortcomings, it is essential to go back to the drawing board and rework the development plan.
What are the most effective employee development methods?
Employee development activities are intended to improve an employee’s existing knowledge, sharpen skills, and prepare them for a new role. Employee development methods include:
- Training - For developing employee skills through lectures, hands-on exercises, videos, podcasts, simulations, and individual/group-based assignments.
- Task/Job Rotations - Used to rotate roles with colleagues on a shift/team. Enables putting new skills into practice.
- Coaching - Involves experienced senior employees working one-on-one with less experienced individuals.
- Mentoring - Involves senior leaders from the management team working with junior employees to help develop skills that the mentee might lack.
- Workshops/Working Groups - These provide an opportunity to interact with peers and seniors from within and outside the organization.
- Simulations - Involves role-playing or creating a completely virtual world and is an opportunity to apply conceptual knowledge in a real-world situation.
- On-the-Job Training - This is an excellent method to test/hone skills for training on technical subjects.
- Conferences - This helps in networking and gaining exposure to the knowledge base available in interdisciplinary and outside industries.
- Self-study - Here, the employee decides the area of interest and pursues it independently.
- 360-degree Performance Review - Obtaining feedback on an employee from peers, subordinates, supervisors, and external vendors, and then identifying gaps/opportunities for skills development opportunities based on received inputs.
Now that you know why employee development is important, it's time to think about how you can get started in the workplace. Learn more to drive actionable coaching conversations with the best performance management software out there.
The defining attributes and needs of today’s economy are constant innovation, technological evolution, and globalization. The organization’s ability to enhance the capabilities of its employees and create a culture of learning is vital to remain competitive. These trends make employee development more critical than ever.
Mesh provides you with a powerful platform for all your employee performance and development needs. At Mesh we can help you with all your needs related to goals and OKRs, performance reviews, recognition and feedback, eNPS and pulse checks, and 1:1 conversations with employees.
You can request a demo and an overview of our platform here.