According to a recent study by Randstad US, more employees leave jobs for career growth than for money.
Employee development programs, when implemented well, can significantly enhance employee retention. These programs should be viewed as an investment, not a cost. They also help the employer by ensuring that its employees have the skills to be most effective and most productive on the job.
For all these reasons, employers are increasing their focus on employee development. Let’s take a look at some ways employers can incorporate employee development into the company culture:
- Establish formal or informal mentoring programs.
- Get managers involved with coaching employees.
- Allow extra days off specifically for developmental purposes, such as seminars, webinars, or conferences.
- Provide employees with memberships to industry-relevant organizations.
- Give tuition reimbursement for nonwork sponsored training, courses, or degree programs.
- Provide opportunities for crosstraining on the job.
- Implement a formal development program with milestones and development plans, complete with employee career paths and individual, customized development goals.
- Allow employees to have good work/life balance (doing so not only allows developmental pursuits but also improves retention in general).
- Create and provide self-paced online training options.
- Sponsor instructor-led training sessions.
- Have clear training needs associated with advancement to specific roles.
These are all ways that employers can incorporate employee development into the company culture and, as you can see, they range from completely informal to completely formal programs. Now let’s take a look at some tips for success when any employee development program is implemented.
Tips to Improve Success of an Employee Development Program
Here are several pointers to ensure the success of any employee development program:
- Conduct a gap analysis to see where the organization’s training needs are, and incorporate this information into the employee development program.
- Ensure leadership is not only onboard with the program but also actively supports and promotes it. Consider having a sponsor in the leadership team who is responsible for promoting and implementing the program.
- Ensure that employees understand the goals of the program. Have measurable objectives that benefit everyone. (Having measurable goals also helps get leadership onboard, as noted above!)
- Get employee input on individual career goals and find ways to incorporate these into the program. Ensure employees also give input on current and desired skill sets, experience, and education.
- Tailor experiences for employees based on their current level and needs. In other words, don’t make it “one-size-fits-all” if that’s not true.
- Work with managers to ensure they’re actively involved in developing their entire team. Managers can coach employees, and can be the first point of contact to determine employee needs. Managers can take steps to ensure existing development programs are given the right priority in the workplace. Managers also have valuable skills to pass along to their teams.
- Invest in the best tools and software for your organization to maximize the benefits of the program.
- Consistently evaluate the development programs that are in place to see whether they’re working and how they can be improved.
- Have a regular schedule to reassess employee skill levels and desired career paths. Adjust development plans accordingly.
- Ensure development programs are flexible and allow customization. Individuals will have differing needs to be accommodated.
- Whenever possible, offer multiple types of training to accommodate different learning styles. For example, consider offering a mix of online learning, instructor-led learning, app-based tools, mentoring programs, and more.
- Don’t overlook general training, such as time management skills and training on company policies and procedures.
- Remember that employee development needs are both short- and long-term. Set goals for both.
- Track progress for individuals and have data available at the aggregate level. Don’t forget to track training compliance for any mandatory training. Have easy-to-see ways to ensure the program is on-target.
- Ensure there are ways to evaluate the effectiveness of any company-sponsored training that is provided.
- Get employee input on the value of the training and on what additional training would be beneficial.
- Consider tying the development program into the company’s performance evaluation program as it relates to goal setting. Also, consider tying all of it into the organization’s succession program to ensure the right talent is available when needed.
These tips are some ideas to get you started in the right direction. What other lessons have you learned while implementing employee development programs in your workplace?
*This article does not constitute legal advice. Always consult legal counsel with specific questions.
About Bridget Miller:
Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.