Employee Development Plan: How to Create It and Implement It in Your Company 

Get the best practices and step-by-step instructions on how to create and carry out employee development plans.

September 25, 2020 By Sara Ana Cemazar Share on Twitter! Share on Facebook! Share on LinkedIn!
employee growth plan
employee development plans

Employee development plans are useful representations of employees’ career paths that help employees to grow in their roles, but also assist HR Professionals to strategically approach organizational progress. 

So, why are employee development plans important? What to include in them, how to build them, and how to implement them for best results? In this article, you will find out the answers to these questions along with a comprehensive guide to creating an employee development plan. 

💬 Before we start, find out how your employees evaluate your company as their employer according to these 16 questions. 

What Is an Employee Development Plan? 

Simply put, an employee development plan is a scheme that visualizes your employees’ growth in their role. As such, a comprehensive employee development plan will also contain list of skills your employees need to acquire or improve in order to be promoted, as well as trainings and education that will facilitate development of these new skills. 

employee development plan definition

Moreover, employee development plans can be more or less specific and are susceptible to changes. However, it is important to note that employee development plans should be highly individualized. One plan will not suit every employee, and the employees with same roles also do not have to follow the same employee development plans. 

Instead, the tempo and direction of your employees’ development will depend on their own preferences and speed of skill acquirement. It will also depend on their managers’ feedback, and on opportunities your company will create for its employees’ development. 

💬 Find out what are the ways to drive continuous employee growth in your company. 

Steps to Create and Implement an Employee Development Plan 

Like any other substantial undertaking, developing employee development plans takes in-depth research, coordination with other team members, and linking multiple variables in a meaningful whole. Although implementing and sticking to employee development plans is complex, it truly benefits the organization and its employees which is seen in tangible results. 

Here are the steps to follow when creating an employee development plan. 

1. Access your company’s growth plans and business goals 

First and foremost, you must find out what are your company’s growth plans. In accordance with your leadership and HR Business Partners, develop a projection of talent growth for the next year, 3 years, 5 years and even more. This starting point will help you in two ways: 

  • Prepare the stage for recruitment of new employees 
  • Establish the scope of investment in your own employees to leadership roles. 

Be aware that 83% of HR Professionals are having recruiting difficulty, especially for tech positions. That being said, your digital recruitment strategy should start with employer branding activities before you actually need to hire. 

skill gap

2. Talk to your employees 

On one hand, you have business plans and future positions to be filled. On the other hand, you have your employees – their personal preferences and career goals. 

Therefore, talk to your employees. Performance reviews present a great opportunity to ask your employees how they see themselves growing in your company. During employee evaluations, ask your employees if they see themselves advancing in their role; do they see themselves in managerial positions, or do they have interests in switching departments? 

All this information will be useful to you when creating employee development plans according to your employees’ potential, their advancement preferences and your company’s growth. You will also need to communicate with managers to see how they estimate their employees’ work and potential to grow. 

💬 Use our employee evaluation forms to help you conduct a comprehensive employee reviews and find out your employees’ ambitions regarding their development.


3. Set employee development goals 

It cannot be overstated: your employee development plan needs to be as specific as it can. This means that you need to establish educational support for your employees along their planned growth and attach it to a specific timeline. 

If you plan for an employee to take over a managerial position in 2 years, think about which courses, trainings and activities he or she needs to complete in order to be ready to step into that role. To help your employees accomplish those educational goals, disperse them across time and help your employees gradually take over more responsibilities. 

employee training resources

In this instance, you can be creative in researching and figuring out the best ways to help your employees develop. Some might like live trainings and courses better, while others might prefer online courses or books. However, this part of your employee development plan will rely heavily on your employees’ field of work and the circumstances at hand, such as difficulties related to COVID-19 pandemic. 

In this stage of planning, you can also invite your employees to collaborate and propose what they believe could be good educational materials. Combining their field expertise and your knowledge of employee development and training methods could work great! 

💬 In this step of employee development planning, it is important to have appropriate solution. BoardFlo is a Kanban-style tool that allows you to develop a whole employee development plan, set your goals and timeline, and collaborate with other teammates, employees or their managers.   

More specifically, it allows you to create lists of trainings, courses and other education. You can attach messages, descriptions and timing to them. Using such solution makes for easy and fast planning while being in-sync with other team members. 

employee collaboration solution

4. Communicate about your employee development plans 

Communication is the key, as we all know it! Your employee development plan communication should include several aspects: 

  • Make sure you present your employee development plan to an employee or groups of employees before you finish it. It would be best if you collaborated on creating the plan together, but if you did not, make sure your employees agree that this is the path they will be not only willing but enthused to take. Also, make sure the employee development plan at hand is realistic and achievable in your employees’ view. 
  • Communicate employee development plans to managers! You will have already discussed with them in earlier stages of developing your employee development plan, but make sure to keep them included in your final product. After all, their guidance and mentorship will have a huge impact on keeping up with the plan at hand. 

communicating employee development plans

5. Track results and update your plans 

Once your plans are finished, it is time to set them in motion. As you go, you need to track if your plans are unravelling accordingly. Are your employees attending courses and getting certificates? Are their managers overseeing their progress and are they happy with it? 

Remember, your employees’ feedback on their own progress is essential. You need to be in touch with your employees and find out if there should be any revisions to the plans that are set in motion. Maybe your employees want to go in another direction, or they find the educational overload too hard. 

In any case – this is what your employee enablement tool is for. It is easy to track if your employee development plans are going accordingly and update them if you are using solutions such as BoardFlo. 

Why It Is Important to Implement Employee Development Plans 

Having employee development plans in motion helps you assure your employees that your company cares for them and counts on them in its future. As such, employee development plans will significantly overlap with your employee journey maps. 

As employee development is a huge aspect of your employees’ journeys, implementing best employee growth practices will significantly add to your employee experience efforts. 

Here are the main advantages of implementing employee development plans and investing in your own employees’ growth.  

1. Securing business growth 

It is a competitive market out there, and companies must ensure they are at the top of their game to gain profit and attract customers. This is exactly why it pays off to invest in employee development. Employees are the ones that know your business well, and as they grow, they bring in more expertise while getting to know your company more and more. As research shows, investing in employee development could lead up to 24% higher profit margins. 

2. Prevent talent shortage 

Highly qualified candidates have plenty of options today. Did you know that IT Pros receive 32 job offers each week? 

preventing talent shortage

Furthermore, 87% of Millennials say that professional career growth and developmental opportunities are important to them in a job. Therefore, by offering employee development opportunities, you will nurture and grow your own talent base and adjust it to your company’s needs.  

3. Boosting employee engagement 

Research says that setting clear goals drives employee engagement, and this is exactly what you would be doing by implementing employee development plans. Employee engagement helps decrease absenteeism and increase productivity, and it subsequently leads to better business results. 

When employees are aware that their company is invested in their growth, counts on them and holds them accountable, they are also more motivated to do their work and thus more engaged. 

4. Improving employee retention 

One of the most obvious benefits of creating employee development plans is decreasing employee turnover. Employee turnover costs companies both time and money, and improving retention is a frequent KPI of HR teams. 

Research shows that encouraging employee development is one of the best ways to improve employee retention, with 93% of employees saying they would work at a company longer if it invested in their careers. 

employee turnover prevention

5. Enhancing employer branding 

An additional benefit of implementing employee development plans comes from the reputation that you will develop among professionals outside of your company. An organization that invests in its own employees’ development will attract more highly qualified candidates to your job openings.  

However, it is important that you amplify your message through employer branding channels. Since 75% of candidates research company’s reputation before applying to a job and companies with strong employer brand see 50% more qualified candidates, it is important that you invest in building your career site and back it up with employees’ success stories. 

employer brand

Role of Managers in Employee Development Planning and Implementation 

As mentioned before, your employees’ supervisors should be included in creating employee development plans. They will provide you their opinion on employees’ performance and potential that is crucial to coordinate your company’s growth needs and employees’ preferences. 

However, managers’ role is even more important during implementation of employee development plans. It is worrying that 68% of managers are not engaged in the career development of their employees, but here are some techniques managers can apply to support their team members growth. 

Proper leadership style 

Depending on your managers’ management style, they will deploy different techniques of communication, collaboration and work assignment. However, your managers should always be aware that they are essential for their employees’ developmentFacilitating learning and helping employees to stick with their development plan is what will get their whole teams ahead. 

Continuous employee feedback 

One of the fastest ways to help employees get better at what they do is provide regular employee feedback. Managers’ feedback on their employees’ work enhances productivity, motivation and team spirit, and is a great catalyst for adopting new skills and knowledge. 

However, feedback does not always have to be negative: positive feedback should prevail if you want optimal levels of employee productivity. Sadly, 37% of managers say they are uncomfortable giving feedback to their employees. Do not let this be the case in your company! 

importance of managers for employee development

Responding to employees’ needs 

In order to support their team members, managers need to conduct employee surveys often. Listening to employees and finding out what they need in order to work, learn and grow is what makes a great supportive manager. 

However, it is also important that managers follow up upon the concerns raised in surveys. This ensures employees that their managers are trustworthy and boosts their engagement. 

employee surveys follow up

Employee recognition 

Finally, employee recognition is one of the best practices your managers can use to support their employees’ development plans. Recognizing employees’ work and giving them positive feedback has a tremendous effect on learning and adopting new behaviors. Furthermore, employees themselves are asking for it: 52% of employees say their bosses could do more to appreciate them. 

💬 Get our employee appreciation letter templates and employee appreciation quotes to recognize your employees’ work.

As we believe that employee recognition is a great way to introduce better organizational culture, employee relationships and overall success of a company and its employees, we have developed an employee recognition platform JobPtsCheck out how it can help you support your employees’ development as well as transform your company for the better.