Having an employee development plan is essential if you’re an organization that wants to stay on top of industry trends and best practices. It all begins by supporting your employees and helping them advance in their careers. This guide looks at employee development plans, more specifically, what they involve and their importance to your organization.

What Are Employee Development Plans?

An employee development plan is a list of actionable steps designed to help employees improve their skills, competencies, knowledge, and qualifications. This explains why an employee development plan is also referred to as an employee growth plan. The main aim of employee development plans is to motivate employees to grow in the workplace. While employees tend to have their own personal development plans, organizations need to come up with action plans that help upgrade the existing workforce.

Therefore, employee development plans require you to collaborate with employees and provide guidance where necessary to ensure that employees are meeting the desired career goals. Because no two employees are alike, it’s crucial to come up with individual employee development plans. For example, a particular individual employee development plan may be designed to prepare the employer for a future promotion or leadership role. However, employee career development plans don’t always involve training employees to be leaders.

More often than not, it’s about employees receiving the support and guidance they need to adapt better to their current job in a way that suits your organization’s needs. Whether the goal is to develop a new skill, earn a certification, or take on a new responsibility, adopting the right approach to career development and making the right input can bring many benefits to your organization, both in the long term and short term.

How to Create an Effective Employee Development Plan

Creating an effective employee development plan depends on many variables, such as the needs and goals of your organization. In addition, you shouldn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach because your employees have different preferences, interests, and abilities.

Otherwise, failure to tailor career development plans could result in a lack of participation and poor engagement. With that in mind, here are general guidelines for creating an employee development plan that works for your organization.

Step 1: Identify Your Organization’s Needs

The first step is to consider your overall business objectives and how they relate to each employee. Each employee has a valuable contribution to make to your organization, and the first port of call is to find out how best to align their professional development goals with your organization’s needs. For example, if you’re planning to introduce new technology into your operations, then that means you’ll need one or more of your employees to master that technology. The next step would be to pinpoint the employee that matches the required criteria.

Step 2: Identify Your Employee’s Personal and Professional Goals

Management should take the time to sit down and talk to each team member in order to create individual employee development plans. Learning more about your employees is a great way to come up with individual employee development plan ideas that suit your organization’s needs while aligning with employee goals. By collaborating this way, you can create a development plan that’s easy for employees to adhere to.

Step 3: Develop An Action Plan

When you have outlined your organization’s needs and aligned them with your employees' career goals, the next step is to develop an action plan. The action plan should be clear, detailed, and time-specific. Typically, a professional development action plan includes training, on-the-job experience, mentorship programs, and coursework.

Step 4: Provide the Required Resources

To ensure the fruition of employee development plan ideas, you should provide resources where necessary. Usually, employees require resources such as financial assistance to cover college expenses and training costs as well as coaching programs and educational material.

Step 5: Performance Monitoring

Once you have a list of actionable steps for your employee to follow, it’s vital to continually review their performance using clear and measurable progress metrics. Performance monitoring should be based on preset deadlines and deliverables. Keep in mind that it’s often necessary to modify and update the development plan along the way so that it remains effective.

Overall, an effective development plan should motivate your employees to upgrade their skills and advance their careers. It should also provide employees with the right level of support and evaluation to ensure progress in the right direction. To make the process of creating a development plan easier, you can start off with an employee development plan template or look at employee development plan examples to figure out what constitutes an effective plan.

Benefits of Employee Development Plans to Your Organization

Some organizations argue that they are not responsible for their employees’ professional development and it’s everyone for themself. However, such organizations should never underestimate the benefits of encouraging staff to pursue career growth opportunities. Here’s how employee development plans can benefit both the employees and the organization.

Encourages Employee Career Growth

For the most part, employees are responsible for driving their own careers, but it makes a big difference knowing that the organization is invested in their professional development. This motivates employees to take the first steps towards career progression and gives them a greater sense of purpose.

Career growth is the biggest benefit of development plans to employees, but it has a strong ripple effect that leads to happier and more satisfied employees. Career development opportunities give employees something to work towards and make them feel more confident and self-assured as they reach their full potential.

Improves Employee Retention

A workplace with no professional development opportunities results in unfulfilled employees that would rather be somewhere else. Employees are more likely to stay at their current jobs if they feel they are growing, career-wise, instead of growing stagnant.

That means an organization that takes the time to develop employee careers gets to enjoy higher staff retention. Not only that, but it helps you grow your talent by attracting employees who are desperately searching for growth opportunities.

Increases Workplace Productivity

It goes without saying that when employees feel supported in their career development endeavors, they are happy and motivated to work for you. In addition, employee development plans encourage alignment between employees and organizations. It enables you to identify critical areas that employees can work on to bring more value to the organization.

For example, an employee is able to become more productive if they can handle additional responsibilities after a training program. The truth is, there are many high potential individuals within your organization, and career development helps to unlock the skills your organization needs.

Makes Employees Adaptable

Career development opportunities enable employees to become more flexible and adaptable in today’s business environment where constant change and uncertainty are the norm.

They will become accustomed to setting and resetting their goals, which helps them better handle unexpected situations or challenges that come up in the workplace. Adaptable employees can easily shift gears and focus on coming up with improvised solutions instead of getting flustered and overwhelmed when things take an unexpected turn.

Fine Tunes Leadership Skills In Employees

As previously stated, training and career development sometimes help to prepare employees for a leadership role. If an employee hones their skillset, they are able to take on more responsibilities, which means that your organization can quickly fill out any promotional vacancies that arise due to company growth or attrition. This helps the organization to continue surviving and thriving in the long term.

Boosts Your Bottom Line

There are many ways that employee career development plans can boost profitability. Professional development plans allow your organization to reap the most benefits from employees’ skills. It also reduces employee turnover (a high employee turnover rate can be costly) and enables organizations to hire existing employees for promotional vacancies, thus reducing recruitment costs.

When you also factor in that effective development plans improve employee morale and motivation, it’s safe to say that helping employees advance their careers translates into higher profit margins.

In a nutshell, employee development plans are a great tool for driving employee performance while helping employees to advance their professional goals. It’s a win-win situation, more so for the organization because it improves employee retention, loyalty, and productivity.

This helps advance your business objectives and spells good news for your bottom line. In turn, employees get valuable assistance and guidance so they can grow within the company and achieve a greater sense of purpose. On the other hand, failing to invest in employee development plans leads to employee disengagement and lack of talent.