Employee development is the practice of learning new skills and honing existing ones. With help from their employer, employees can take time to learn how to use new technologies and techniques, develop their knowledge of an industry or subject matter, and grow their competencies across different areas. Employee development is important because employers want highly skilled employees, and employees want to succeed in their roles.
Being done right, this ongoing development is mutually beneficial for both employer and employee. Using HCM, you can develop an employee development plan that identifies the skills an individual in her role needs today, as well as the competencies they’ll need to move to the next level in her career path. Investing in skills that will help your employees and your business thrive in the future is a smart move.
Employee development in terms of the 3 Es
There are many different ways to approach employee development. Popular options include ongoing training programs, on-the-job training, mentorships, stretch assignments, conferences, and classes – just to name a few. At Culture Amp, we think of employee development in terms of the "3 Es":
Experience: On-the-job experiences that help employees grow (e.g., stretch tasks, special products, mentoring others, etc.)
Exposure: Learning through observation (e.g., working with a coach, seeking feedback, shadowing, networking, etc.)
Education: Structured learning (e.g., courses, books, conferences)
An employee development strategy that incorporates all three provides a holistic path to growth, resulting in well-rounded, successful employees.
Benefits of employee development
As mentioned earlier, investing in employee development benefits both your employees and business, but that only scratches the surface of why your organization should prioritize career development. Here are four more reasons (benefits) to revisit your company’s employee development strategy:
Attracting top talent
Employees want to know they can grow within your organization. In fact, we found that 59% of millennials say they find development opportunities extremely important when deciding whether to apply for a position.
To send a strong signal to potential job candidates – one that can help your business stand out during the application and interview processes – highlight any ongoing career development opportunities your organization offers. You want them to know your business will help them learn the skills they will need to qualify for their dream role in the future. Painting a motivating future for potential applicants shows you care about the longevity of their careers and want them to grow with your company.
Professional development doesn’t just help your business attract top talent, it also helps you retain top talent. That’s especially important given the current context of the job market. The Great Resignation is still in full swing, and it’s an applicant’s market, so cracking the code to retention can save your business money.
One helpful hint: Culture Amp data from our Why employee development should be HRs top priority report reveals that development is the most cited reason for employee departures – by a longshot. In fact, a lack of opportunities for growth accounts for 37.1% of employee departures. That probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise. If employees think they’re in a dead-end job or aren’t learning, they can quickly become demotivated and look for a new challenge or opportunity outside of your organization. Our data also shows that employees who don’t feel they have access to L&D are 2X more likely to leave a job in the next 12 months.
If you’re wondering how to focus on learning development to increase retention, try experimenting with an e-learning solution, internal mentorship program, or passion project. Encourage your employees to make time during the workday to learn new skills and invest in their growth.
Employee engagement is a valuable metric for every business. Engaged employees are enthusiastic about their work and feel connected to your organization. Engagement and professional development go hand in hand because when employees feel their work is challenging them and pushing them to grow, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and even productive and creative than employees who feel stuck. Obviously, this can fuel better business outcomes for your organization, making career development a worthy investment.
Improving business performance
Employee development can also strengthen business outcomes. Why? Because professional development keeps employees up to date on industry trends and new techniques, processes, and technology that can help your company increase efficiency and drive innovation. This creates opportunities for your company to introduce cutting-edge strategies and offerings, stay ahead of the market, and deliver better experiences to your customers.
The true importance of employee development lies in employee and business growth. Your talent is your businesss most important asset, and any investment in their growth can improve loyalty and retention while increasing workplace productivity and creativity. These factors add up quickly and help you build a future-proof organization made up of driven, talented individuals.