Employee Development

As every HR professional knows, people are your most valuable resource

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Friday, May 12, 2023

When running a business, how your employees perform is highly important. And growing your employee's skill set is a great way to ensure success.

Developing your employee's skills is a win-win for both parties and comes with a range of benefits. Such as an increase in productivity and morale. Failure to do so could mean you lose your best staff and can't attract top talent.

In this guide, we'll discuss what employee development is, why it's important and how to improve it in your business.

What is Employee Development?

Employee development is when you improve an employee's current skills whilst developing new ones.

This is done with the help of the employer and is aimed at growing someone's professional development. Career development shouldn't be just aimed at new employees. Existing employees should also benefit.

Employee development is often broken down into three areas: * Experience: On-the-job experiences to help employees grow. * Exposure: Learning through observing, such as mentoring. * Education: Structured learning opportunities.

Employee Development Areas

As an employer, you need to understand the different areas of employee development. Doing so can go a long way in helping all your staff to reach their potential.

Key areas are: * Employee flexibility. * Communication skills. * Employee work ethic. * Leadership skills. * Creativity skills. * Stress management.

an employee upskilling themselves

Why is Employee Development Important?

Companies should never underestimate the importance of employee development. It's important for a number of reasons and should be a top priority to help enhance business growth. However, there are many more benefits it brings. Let's discuss them in more detail:

Upskilling Employees

You should champion self-development for your employees. This includes learning new skills whilst improving current ones.

Not upskilling your employees will lead to them accepting the status quo and not wanting to further improve. This could halt your business growth, and lead to your workplace culture declining.

Reskilling Employees

Employee development is important for reskilling your current employees. Teaching your employees a new skill can lead to their personal growth. You should keep up to date with new industry trends to find professional development opportunities for your company.

Choosing not to can halt their growth as their knowledge doesn’t develop.

Employee Retention

Developing your employees is a key driver in ensuring that your top talent stays with your company. The last thing you want is to rehire new talent because all of your best employees have left your business.

Showing your employees that you're willing to focus on their career development will increase their confidence in you. This can lead to them staying with your business for longer.

Attracting the Best Talent

Priortising employee development is a great way of attracting new employees. During the hiring stage, you should make prospective hires aware of any development pathways you already have in place.

If your company has a reputation for employee development, the best staff from the industry are more likely to apply for any vacancies.

Improves Productivity

The more developed and skilled your employees are, the higher their output. This in turn will help to improve overall business performance and success.

If employees feel like you want them to grow and succeed, they're more likely to put more effort into working for you. This makes employee development an excellent investment of your time and money.

Helps Improve Employee Engagement

Working to develop the skills of your staff can improve engagement, employee satisfaction and your company culture. The more engaged your employees are, the more likely they are to want to develop.

Employee development also helps create a workplace culture that enables employees to succeed and meet their goals.

How Can You Improve Employee Development?

No matter how well an employee is performing in their current position, you should always look to improve their development. The last thing you want is for your employees to feel like they're working in a dead-end job and seek new employment elsewhere.

There are many ways in which you can do this. Let's discuss them in more detail:


Providing training is a great way for employees to learn new skills. These development programs can be provided in person or online.

You should look for additional training opportunities for all your staff. Ensure you communicate with all your employees to find out what learning opportunities they’re looking for.

Allow for Self-Study

You should provide time for your employees to undertake some self-learning relating to their role. This could include an accreditation or a course to improve their soft skills, such as digital literacy.

You should work with them and find time in their working week so they can further develop. It's important you ask your employees which areas they want to develop, so it's more personable.


Mentorship opportunities are great for improving development, knowledge and creating a strong working relationship between two employees.

Seeing how employees mentor others can be a great way to find future managers for your company. You may find an employee providing mentoring may unexpectedly show leadership skills.

Job Rotations

Job rotations are a great way to improve the professional development of your employees. These allow employees to try out their skills in different areas of the business.

This can help them to develop new skills and get them thinking about which direction they want their career to move into.

Workshops and Conferences

Sending your employees to workshops, conferences and seminars is a great way for them to learn from someone in their industry.

Interacting with people from all levels of business will lead to them taking on new knowledge which will ultimately help to develop further.

Performance Reviews

Undertaking regular performance reviews is another good way of improving employee development in your company. It's crucial your employees know how they're performing, as well as any areas of improvement.

Use these reviews to discuss their career goals and where they see themselves going as part of your company.

Another way to improve an employee's progress is to create a career development plan.

an employer creating a development plan

What is an Employee Development Plan?

Also known as career development plans, these can help your staff to acquire new skills for their current job. They can help to increase an employee's talents, which can lead to benefits for your company such as improved productivity and employee morale.

How to Create Employee Development Plans

In order to create an effective employee development plan, there are certain steps you should follow. Let's discuss them in more detail:

Evaluate Your Future Business Goals

Before you can start creating an employee development plan, you need to decide on what your business goals are. It's important that both the goals and the plan align with each other.

You should analyse what is working for your company and what areas you feel could do with improvement in the future. Once this is done, you can focus on goals that'll aid employee growth.

Communicate these goals with your employees so they understand their importance and benefits.

Create Employee-Specific Development Plans

Each plan you create should meet the development needs of a specific employee. You should communicate with your employees, find out their career goals and how you can go about helping them to achieve them.

Ensure these goals are achievable and manageable, otherwise there's no point in setting them.

You should create a plan for both new hires and employees who have been with your company for a while.

Provide Professional Development Opportunities

Make sure you provide a range of professional development opportunities for all your employees. This should be laid out to all staff when they start working for you.

An example of this could be an online learning subscription which multiple employees can have access to outside of working hours.

Communicate with your staff beforehand about what topics or subjects they want to learn more on.

Ask for Employee Feedback

Managers should meet regularly with their employees to get feedback on how they think their professional development is going.

If they raise some concerns, it's important that you make adjustments where possible. If they're feeling positive about it - don't make changes for change's sake.

You should provide ongoing support to the learning opportunities and development of all your employees. Failure to do so can lead to the plan not working and it not being worthwhile. An employee completing their development skills

Get Advice on Employee Development with BrightHR

When running a business, how your employees perform is highly important. And developing your employee's current skills is a great way to improve your business.

There are a range of benefits that come with focusing on employee development. Such as an increase in employee engagement, keeping your top talent, and growing your business.

Failure to do so can mean you lose your best staff and suffer a dip in employee morale and productivity.

If you need any advice when employees resign, we are on hand to help. Our BrightAdvice helpline. Give our friendly and helpful team a call on 0800 783 2806.

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