Understanding the Importance of Employee Development
Employee development goes beyond training an individual to use a tool or process, it inspires growth and encourages a love of continuous learning and personal improvement across the organization. Today’s workforce is placing a greater importance on professional development and are actively looking for employers that will support their need for learning opportunities and career growth. Optional corporate training programs are good but don’t engage employees as much as integrating development into an employee’s role. Employers that make employee training a priority see more success in retaining their top talent, increasing team efficiency, and experiencing business growth.
What is an employee development program?
An employee development program (EDP) is a training structure designed to upskill and reskill employees and help them to achieve growth and progress in their career. Employee development programs are offered across the organization, unlike an employee development plan that focuses on the individual.
Why should organizations invest in an employee development program?
In today’s world, individuals can find potential jobs at just the tap of a button. If they aren’t happy or feeling engaged in their current role, they are just a few clicks away from finding new opportunities. According to the Degreed State of Skills Report, almost 46% of global staff report they would be willing to leave their current job if their employee didn’t offer them opportunities for training and development. In comparison, a recent Harvard Business Review study revealed that employees who were offered regular development and training opportunities are 34% more likely to stay in their current role. With the costs of finding and recruiting a new employee continuing to rise, employers that fail to invest in employee development programs now, face much higher costs in the future through lost productivity and unmotivated employees.
Benefits of Corporate Training for Employee Development
Training and development is essential if organizations want to strengthen their overall performance, improve their team skill sets and knowledge, and retain their top performing employees. It’s also necessary for helping employees stay up to date with the latest industry and technology trends and updates and innovation is key to staying relevant.
Improve Employee Skills and Knowledge
Employees that undergo training and development get to learn new skills, gain new knowledge, and help them to become more efficient in their role. Carrying out a skill gap assessment across departments supports employers to identify where additional hard or soft skills are required. This also helps to prepare individuals for career development, equipping them with the knowledge and skills for leadership roles or helping them to move laterally within the organization.
Keep Up With Industry Trends and Technology
We are in a fast-moving digital age, new tools and technologies pop-up all the time and some tools are entirely disruptive to our current way of working e.g. ChatGPT. One use of training and development is to keep employees up-to-date with industry relevant developments and changes to industry standards. Through training, employees feel more confident in incorporating these tools into their work, and help them to become more efficient in their role. By staying up-to-date, organizations embrace innovation which is critical to remaining competitive in the space. If employers choose to ignore the latest trends and technology, they risk falling behind their competitors.
Boost Employee Retention and Engagement
Individuals are placing a greater emphasis on training and development and they are willing to change jobs to get it. Employers that implement employee development programs show they are committed to nurturing positive organizational values and encouraging a culture of internal mobility. According to the LinkedIn 2022 Workplace Learning Report, employers that enable access to on-the-job training, mentoring, and shadowing opportunities, saw a staff retention rate of almost 2x as long compared to companies that didn’t.
Increase Satisfaction and Improve Productivity
Satisfaction is key to the success of employee development. If the employee is not getting the most out of their training, isn’t engaged, or is left without guidance for pursuing development opportunities, they aren’t going to be satisfied. An unsatisfied employee is unproductive and this creates blocks and hold-ups for the rest of their team and potentially other departments. Successful employee development gives individuals the necessary tools and skills they need to perform their role to their maximum potential, in turn increasing productivity and job satisfaction.
Different Types of Corporate Training Programs for Employee Training and Development
Training programs can be delivered in a variety of ways including on-the-job training, half day or full day workshops, mentoring programs, online training, and classroom learning. Each method has its benefits and challenges and the right delivery method depends on the needs of the organization.
The most common method of training delivery is on-the-job training. Typically, a manager, team leader, or experienced team member will deliver the training on a specific topic or tool to an individual that is a new hire or moving into a new role. It is considered a cost-effective method of training as everything is handled by existing employees, without the need for external resources. The downsides of on-the-job training are that it can be slow moving, as the training employee needs to take time out from their daily responsibilities. The success of this delivery method is influenced by how confident the trainer is and their ability to deliver quality training that remains consistent throughout.
On-the-job training lends itself well to building relationships between employees which creates opportunities for mentoring. A mentorship requires longer commitment than specific on-the-job training and is effective at connecting employees, building trusting relationships, and creating employee growth opportunities. A mentoring program may last several weeks or months, meaning the mentor needs to spend more time away from their role responsibilities. However, organizations that use mentoring as a training delivery method experience much higher retention rates and reduced employee turnover.
Online Training or E-Learning
One of the newest and fastest growing forms of training delivery. E-learning or online learning is the use of online courses, moocs, exams, quizzes, webinars, articles, and videos to deliver training. Online training is excellent for remote teams that need flexibility in their training initiatives as the platforms can be accessed anywhere in the world at any time. Organizations report e-learning takes less time to complete, is more cost-effective, is easy to scale, and has higher levels of engagement than traditional training courses. The greatest challenge of online training is retention. To combat low retention rates, organizations need to find or create engaging programs that use a mixture of resources and gamification.
Instructor-Led Classroom Learning
Instructor-led classroom learning is a traditional type of training that many learners are familiar with. Training sessions take place in an in-person, school-like environment with an expert presenting materials to a group. Instructor-led training has more structure which makes it easier to explore complex topics or subjects with opportunities to ask questions, promote discussions, or find additional resources. Some organizations still use a form of instructor-led training, but it is considered the most expensive method of training and requires staff to be away from the workplace. It has a greater time commitment which makes it much harder for organizations to scale this type of training when they have hundreds of employees.
Design an Effective Employee Development Program
Growth and development are a continuous process and as no two departments or employees are the same, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. This means organizations need to create a foundation for development, which when done right, can be used time and time again. Not only can the employee development program framework be used in the future, it makes it easier to justify the training resources required to potential stakeholders.
Set Goals and Objectives
No training program can begin without first defining the goals and objectives of that training. The primary goals should be focused on organizational needs and what is required to drive productivity, efficiency, and growth across the organization. Goals should follow the SMART goal framework and be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. For example:
- Gain 10 new sales qualified leads per month for the next 6 months
- Decrease employee turnover by 10% by the end of the year
- Achieve a customer satisfaction rating of 9/10 by the end of the quarter
Goals should consider both short-term and long-term plans and potential changes, such as are there any upcoming acquisitions, is the company planning a merger, or are teams likely to change? Once goals have been defined at a company-wide level, it becomes easier to set individual employee development goals that support the company vision.
Align Employee Development Needs
With goals and objectives in mind for the organization, it’s time to consider the individual. Carry out a training needs assessment to determine who needs training, why training is needed, the kind of training required, what success after training looks like, and when training needs to be conducted. Once the training needs assessment is complete, it is easier to match the individual’s training requirements to the different types of training available. For example, can the skills and knowledge identified as required be trained in-house or will the organization need to outsource the training resources? A training needs assessment and a skill gap analysis used together provide a complete picture of an individual’s current capabilities and where their weaknesses and opportunities exist. The results are then used to outline what skills, knowledge, or competencies need further development to achieve the business goals.
Incentives provide another element of aligning employee development needs to the organization's training goals. Is there a role that an existing employee is interested in, are they on a specific career growth track, does this training create promotion opportunities, etc. By outlining the goals and being transparent around incentives, employees gain a better understanding of why training is needed and how they will benefit. It is also helpful for increasing employee buy-in and motivating a higher level of engagement which in turn, increases the potential success of a training program.
Implement the Employee Development Program
Implementing an employee development plan takes time and commitment. Employees should be allocated specific time to train. Whether that’s blocking time out in the week on an individual’s calendar for regular self-led training or closing the office for a half day or day to take teams to an external training center. If time isn’t given to employees to undergo training, it’s unlikely to happen organically outside of the workplace and can stall progress towards the organization’s goals. Allocate a leader or contact that will be able to track and guide the training plan for individual employees. They will be responsible for checking in with the employee to see how their training is progressing, clearing any blockers, and helping the employee feel more supported throughout the training process.
Employees should have their own individual goals they work towards as part of their training plan. Whether that’s to achieve a certain level of competency in a specific area, gain certifications, or complete a project or experiment. The goal or goals should reflect the personal growth journey and align to the overall organization objectives. This provides greater structure for the individual and makes it easier to evaluate the success of the program and how it contributes to the overall success of the organization.
Evaluate Success and Refine the Program
The work doesn’t stop once the program has been planned and actioned, now it’s time to evaluate the success of the employee development program and refine the training plan where necessary. Meet regularly with employees to monitor progress towards their training goals and help clear any roadblocks they may be experiencing. Ask them if there is anything that can be implemented to make their training more effective, easier, or to help them manage their time better. By meeting regularly with employees, managers gain an understanding of employee engagement, changes to employee performance, and how the employee’s feel their skill development is progressing. Regular feedback through one-to-ones, team meetings, polls, and surveys will identify ineffective training methods. As everyone learns in different ways, this identifies areas which need improvement and plans can be pivoted depending on the given feedback.
Once training plans have been running for a short amount of time, organizations begin to see the impact employee development is having on the overall goals and objectives. Is there positive movement towards the set goals? Are goals on track or falling behind? Are employees able to apply their training and newly gained skills or knowledge effectively? Evaluating success needs to happen on both an individual and organizational level to ensure a better understanding of the impact of training and where restructuring may need to take place.
Effective employee development programs help businesses and their workforces to achieve success and growth. Through increasing the abilities and expanding on the skill sets and competencies of employees, the business and individual have more space to develop and thrive. Teams become more efficient, individuals gain more confidence and knowledge, and the organization boosts their performance as a whole. For an employee development program to be effective, planning, structure, and regular review are required to ensure gaps are identified, goals are defined, and success can be measured.
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Explore what digital credentials can do for your employee development programs and corporate training and book a platform demo today. Or learn more about digital credentials, how they are used, and how they benefit issuers and recipients in our Digital Credential Buyer’s Guide.