How to build an impactful employee development plan

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” The best companies invest in not only initial onboarding and training but also professional employee development plans because successful programs improve employee retention, keep team members engaged, and add focus to their career goals.

When team members have the adequate skills and knowledge to excel in their position, they feel empowered in their work environment. And when employees feel empowered, they tend to stay longer and perform better.

Advantages of an employee development plan

When you dedicate time and effort to creating a professional development plan, you’re sowing long-term success for your company. Here are several benefits you can enjoy after implementing learning opportunities in a well-designed action plan: 

  • Cultivate workers’ hard and soft skills
  • Appeal more to skilled job candidates
  • Increase employee retention
  • Improve employee engagement
  • Boost company productivity
  • Build leaders for future promotions

Fundamentals of a successful employee development plan

Before we guide you through the steps to create your own program, we first need to acknowledge the fundamentals that make a workforce development plan successful. Make sure to think carefully about the following elements:

Your company’s demands and goals

Identify what your business needs to succeed and what you want to achieve as a brand. Are there specific areas that need special attention? Pinpoint your weak spots and the spots where you shine most. 

What do you need to invest in to make your company stand out from competitors? What skills are required to get you to where you want to be?

Your employees’ proficiency and skillsets 

What are your employees best at, and what skills need some work? How can you encourage them and increase their knowledge to help your company and their individual career? 

Your employees’ ambitions 

Recognize what your workers enjoy doing, their specific interests, and how they find gratification at work. Once you recognize their ambitions, you’ll be better equipped to match their capabilities with your business goals. 

How to construct an employee development plan

We understand how intimidating it can be to start career development plans from scratch, but that’s why we’re here! If you break it down into easy-to-manage steps, you’ll be well on your way to building an exceptionally talented workforce. Let’s take a look at how you can kickstart your development plan. 

Step 1: Identify your goals and needs

You can’t make wise decisions unless you first know what you’re trying to achieve with your employee development plan. Set specific goals and take note of your organization’s needs. Look at your strengths, weaknesses, obstacles, and opportunities for growth. 

Also, distinguish your priorities, so you know where to put the most time and energy. In addition, be sure to include a few of your most reliable colleagues in the conversation so you can receive quality advice and exchange ideas. Two or more heads are generally always better than just one. Here are a few questions you should be asking yourself:

  • What additional skills does our company need to thrive?
  • How is our employee turnover rate doing? 
  • How can we create a positive work environment and improve employee satisfaction?
  • Are we evolving as a company or are we at a standstill?
  • Are we hiring the right people who are best qualified for the positions?
  • Is our training program designed to match our company needs? 

Step 2: Learn about your employees (one at a time)

Although grouping employees and saving time may seem tempting, it’s actually not as effective in the long run. Remember that no two employees are the same. We all learn in different ways and have different needs and desires. 

So, the best thing you can do is concentrate on one-on-one conversations and collaborations. Schedule a meeting with each employee and talk about their job, goals, and preferences. Here are a few things you should consider discussing:

  • Are you interested in other positions within our company?
  • Are there any resources, tools, or guidance that you think will help you do your job more efficiently?
  • What types of challenges are you facing in your training so far? What do you think would help you overcome them?
  • Have you achieved any of your goals? 
  • What motivates you the most at work?

Step 3: Provide customized training options 

Once you get a feel for the type of opportunities your workers are seeking, you can then give them an assortment of training options. This gives them the ability to pick the one that best fits them, which can help them reach their goals quicker. There are plenty of training types to choose from. 

However, make sure to consider the training you can and can’t give. For example, if it’s not in your budget to let your team attend a seminar, then don’t include that on your list of options. There are a variety of effective development methods you can use to improve performance and offer personal growth opportunities for your employees. Some examples of training options include:

  • Online tutorials, podcasts, classes, and quizzes
  • Industry-related conferences and seminars
  • Group training classes
  • Cross-training
  • Succession planning
  • Coaching and mentoring

Step 4: Schedule regular check-ins

The program isn’t over after you’ve implemented the training. Give your staff a few weeks to get their feet wet and then schedule recurring individual meetings to check in with each of them. In these meetings, you can discuss their progress, how they feel about the training itself, offer encouragement on their achievements, and then talk about the next steps or additional opportunities. 

You can also use this time to give them the floor and have them tell you about any obstacles or challenges they are facing in their training. This one-on-one attention will show that you care about their development and want to work with them to accomplish both individual and company goals. 

Are you ready to start creating an employee development program the right way without the stress? Homebase HR Pro provides live access to certified human resource professionals who can help you create policies and review your existing ones.

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