How Are Employee Development Practices Strategic? 5 Tips to Get Started

February 8, 2023 Ryan Stoltz
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Here’s a fact that should get every employer to lean in: employees who go through development plans appear to be more productive than their counterparts. According to an SHRM study, those employees are 15% more engaged in their jobs. Their retention rate is also 34% higher.

The numbers are enough to convince anyone of the importance of employee development practices. The question now becomes, how are employee development practices strategic? Let’s find out.

How are employee development practices strategic?

An employee development strategy that’s well-thought-out offers many benefits to the organization. By creating a robust employee development program, you’re ensuring a higher retention rate and much better productivity.

One study found that organizations that foster continuous professional learning saw benefits that included “greater employee commitment to learning; increased employee focus on purposes for their own development; increased collegiality; and employees’ sense of self-affirmation.” 

To achieve similar success, here’s how you can start incorporating employee development plans into your business.

Create a continuous performance development (CPD) process

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To create a customized employee development program, focus on a continuous performance development process vs. the traditional model of annual or semi-annual performance reviews. With frequent check-ins, you’re able to better understand the challenges of your workforce in the moment. You can also track each employee’s growth opportunities.

A bottom-up approach to employee training, CPD allows the manager and employee to monitor progress against key performance indicators (KPIs) and goals, discuss productivity challenges, get feedback from peers, recognize achievement, and coach for better performance. A report developed by Forrester in collaboration with Workhuman® found that this solidifies the connection between primary elements of the employee experience: engagement, recognition, purpose, and achievement.

Frequent check-ins will allow you to get more familiar with that particular employee’s learning style and collect feedback to identify specific career development insights based on their responses. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to create reliable training and development formats based on firsthand feedback.

For more guidance on employee feedback, check out the white paper “9 Tips for Giving Feedback (Without the Stress)” today.

Read it now!

Outline career paths for your employees

It’s no longer efficient to create the same learning and development plan for all your employees. A good employee development plan depends on each employee’s career path and goals. That’s not only for the sake of your employees but for your business as well.

Learning about the career and growth opportunities for your employees will help you create a draft of what your business environment will look like in the coming years. You’ll know the potential of each employee, and you may be able to recognize future managers and start preparing them for the role.

As we mentioned earlier, meeting with each employee will help you outline their distinct career development tracks, which, in turn, will help you create effective employee development plans accordingly.

You also want a development plan that is adaptive to change. Adaptive companies grow 3x faster than their industry average. Employee goals and aspirations may change over time, so their development program should change along with them.

Start exploring employee development ideas

Now that you have all the data you need for adopting an employee development strategy, it’s time to start exploring ideas for creating and implementing them.

First, you’ll want to consider how you’ll deliver your insights to the employees. Traditional classroom learning involves creating a PowerPoint presentation and reciting its content. However, that may not be so efficient anymore.

The most effective learning format for your employees is incorporating interactive content, especially if they’re within the younger age range. Younger generations also prefer online learning, so you may want to consider that. Additionally, group workshops are among the learning formats employees prefer because they engage everyone.

After you decide how you’ll deliver your development program’s ideas, you’ll want to start creating specific development plans that employees can begin implementing into their own goals.

Get help from a science-based tool

effective development

It may be overwhelming to process all this info down at once. But what’s even more overwhelming is attempting to implement all the ideas we’ve covered on your own. One tool you can use to cover communication with employees, feedback, and performance development programs is Conversations® .

Conversations is a digital tool created to promote healthy communication and feedback methods between employees and managers. It enables anyone within the company to initiate a check-in with a manager or an employee. And these check-ins are recorded in the platform to look back at later on.

Conversations also allows employees to leave feedback or request feedback about their performance. In that way, the tool enables managers to collect feedback with the press of a button. 

Aside from the check-ins and feedback, Conversations also creates annual reviews and project feedback. On top of that, it helps you create performance improvement plans that align with employee learning goals.

Try Conversations from Workhuman today

Engage everyone in the employee’s development plan

Although a lot of managers think of development plans as a temporary activity on the side, it’s essential to keep them going. It’s the only way of ensuring ongoing development and continuous learning for the employees.

To do so, you’ll want to engage everyone in those plans and make it everyone’s priority to implement them. It’s crucial to let your employees know how important personal growth is for the business.

You can always carry out fun learning sessions that include everyone to create a sense of community. Otherwise, you can keep track of employees’ development and give out awards to the outstanding ones.



So getting back to the title’s question, “How are employee development practices strategic?” The answer is that they can and should align with the organization’s and employee’s goals for growth.

Now that you know why those plans are important and how to create them, you have enough knowledge to start working on the learning and skill development of your employees.