5 Must-Know Best Practices for Employee Development

employee developmentWhen it comes to maintaining a company’s success, it’s not only essential to hire great employees—but it’s also essential to help your current employees grow and develop over time. And, in today’s hyper-competitive business landscape, the need for an ongoing commitment to employee development is even more pressing.

But, maintaining high performance isn’t the only reason to invest in employee development—it will also keep employees satisfied and fulfilled with their careers. In fact, 86% of employees consider opportunities for professional and career development important to overall job satisfaction (source). It should come as no surprise that a lack of growth opportunities is one of the leading causes of employee turnover (source).

Whether you are a small, mid-size, or corporate organization, you must create an employee development program that will fit the needs of both your employees and your business strategy. In today’s post, we offer five tips to create the perfect employee development program for your business. Keep reading!

1. Facilitate a learning-first business culture.

The desire to learn and develop should be embedded in your company culture. Every leader and manager must make employee development a priority across all teams and departments—to keep all personnel on the same page.

A good first-step starts with performance reviews. To cultivate a learning mindset, standardize your performance review process to be built around learning goals. We recommend that managers meet with employees individually to reflect on how they’ve grown within their given role—rather than simply focusing on productivity metrics or performance numbers. This will help you set tangible employee development goals that align with your employees’ individual goals.

From there, we suggest implementing a workflow to constantly encourage internal training sessions where employees from across departments can come together to share their knowledge and learn from others. The key to success with employee training programs is to assemble age- and experience-diverse development programs to ensure employees learn from one another and grow closer through collaboration.

2. Personalize your learning and development programs.

A one-size-fits-all learning and development program simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Just as your customers want personalization, your employees do too. Here’s what we mean: Each of your employees has a different level of experience and expertise. They also have unique and differing priorities regarding their own professional development.

The key is to make your learning and development programs specific enough that employees can glean actionable insights, but open-ended enough that they can apply it to their own specific career goals. You also need to decide how you want to present your learning content. Younger employees are more adept with technology, so they might favor digital learning activities. But, you should also include more simple and accessible learning content for employees who might be less comfortable with advanced technology.

We recommend you speak with as many employees as possible about their preferred learning styles. Provide several options, from interactive online content to in-person sessions, so each employee can choose the method that suits them best.

3. Cater to small screens.

Accessibility is critical in all areas of modern business—and your professional development content is no different. To ensure a smooth integration into your employees’ daily routine, offer a mobile learning option. Consider looking into a mobile app, or, at the very least, a mobile-optimized website so they can access learning materials from anywhere.

As with any mobile strategy, there are a few things to keep in mind. For one, your employees are unlikely to read long blocks of text on their mobile devices, so prioritize easy-to-understand multimedia content. Also, consider implementing an element of gamification—think about incorporating a reward or point system to motivate employees to progress through training programs.

4. Define a clear career path.

A good employee doesn’t just strive for excellence in their current role. They want to know there’s room and opportunity to progress over the course of their career with your company. For this reason, it’s crucial to outline a clear career path for each of your employees—sometimes referred to as talent mapping. If a junior employee, for instance, has the ambition to grow into a managerial role, your learning and development program should provide them with the tools to develop the skills they need.

A comprehensive learning and development program won’t just aid individual employees, it also serves a bigger purpose—succession planning. Professional development prepares employees for more advanced roles, which comes in handy when you need to fill a position. When managed correctly, employee development will prepare you for the future and nurture employees into leadership roles. Thus, saving your organization a significant amount of time and money.

5. Demonstrate your commitment to your employees.

If implemented correctly, a learning and development program can be a huge driver of employee engagement. And, remember, an engaged employee is a happy employee. In fact, engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their jobs (source).

When you make learning and development a company-wide priority, you create a sense of community among all employees. Conversely, if a learning and development program is mismanaged, it can have the opposite effect. For this reason, it’s critical that you communicate how much you value personal growth in your employees. Otherwise, it may just appear like you’re demanding that your employees learn new skills.

Several ways to demonstrate your commitment to your employees include organizing fun and creative learning sessions, offering rewards for specific achievements, and recognizing employees who have displayed extraordinary growth.

As with any new business program, remember to collect feedback and take input from your staff. A learning and development program has a direct impact on your employees. You want to make sure your professional development programs are specifically designed to suit their wants and needs.

Final Thoughts on Employee Development

A successful learning and development program will help you attract top talent, improve employee satisfaction, and set your organization up for success.

Remember, the details of your learning and development program will depend on your specific company. Your employees are unique and the techniques that work for one company might not apply to yours. For this reason, it’s important to listen to your employees and implement their feedback. This ensures that you regularly fine-tune and improve on your employee development strategy. With their preferences in mind, you’ll help employees reach their career goals.

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About the Author: Monika Nemcova is Content Marketer at Harver, an AI recruitment platform that helps companies hire better, faster with data. She manages the Harver blog, covering a variety of topics related to innovation in recruitment and HR.