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To win the war for talent that includes attracting, retaining, and developing top talent, companies must adapt to the new workforce's dynamic lives and desires by creating a top-notch employee experience.

One of the important dimensions of employee experience is to develop your employees to grow ahead in their careers.

A good employee development program can help companies improve employee retention and improve their productivity & performance.

Have you ever thought about the people who helped you grow in your career? It may be a teacher who kindled your interest in a subject, an employer who recognized your abilities and trained you in a specific area, or a mentor who helped you discover your professional skills. We have all been grateful to such people in our lives.

An employee development plan is an organization's way of giving the same boost to employees–providing them opportunities to learn and grow professionally. Employees seek growth and professional development in any organization they associate themselves with. So much that "Career growth opportunities" is the No. 1 reason people give for changing jobs, says a Gallup research.

Creating and executing an effective employee development plan helps organizations improve employee engagement, performance, organizational culture, and more.

According to research by Gallup, organizations that have made a strategic investment in employee development reported 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees.

In this article, we deep dive into the different aspects of an employee development plan–including topics like what is a development plan for an employee, how to create an employee development plan, and different elements to consider. At the same time, you design an employee development plan.

“Train people well enough so they can leave, Treat them well enough so they don't want to.” – said, Sir Richard Branson

What is an employee development plan?

An employee development plan is a structured approach to training and development, educating, and enabling employees to improve their professional capabilities and value within the organization.

The organizations implement such employee engagement and development programs to align with organizational goals and with employees' professional goals. Employee development programs, when done right, have proven to be great means of attracting and retaining the best talent.

A 2016 Gallup poll of millennials found that almost 90% of them valued "career growth and development opportunities," but less than 40% felt strongly that they had "learned something new on the job in the past 30 days." That same poll found that managers are critical to younger employees' experiences at work, accounting for "at least 70% of the variance in engagement scores."

Employees who are constantly learning about their jobs are more engaged and productive. However, a cookie-cutter approach to employee development planning – where you apply the same ideas to all employees, will not be effective.

Let's delve into the fundamental principles of building an employee development plan and the best ways for you to adapt them to your organization. But first, let's look into why it's worthwhile to spend time and effort on an employee development plan.

Benefits of an employee development plan

Investing in an effective employee engagement and development plan can prove to be a win-win for both employees and the organization.

Here are some key benefits of having an employee development plan:

  • It helps attract the best talent in the market.
  • It improves employee engagement and motivation.
  • It drives employee performance and productivity.
  • It improves retention rate and employee satisfaction.
  • It improves the profitability and growth of the business.

However, creating an effective employee development plan is easier said than done.

How to create an employee development plan

Here is a five-step approach to creating an effective career development plan for employees.

1. Assess organizational needs

Understand clearly where you stand as an organization today and where you intend to be. Figure out your objectives, goals, values, and the opportunities and challenges you tackle as an organization. When you know these clearly, you will know what needs to be done to strengthen your workforce to achieve your objectives.

You can collect feedback and suggestions from your leaders and employees to understand. This helps create a priority list – which can guide you to make better decisions.

2. Assess employee goals and needs

Every employee is different, including their strengths, weaknesses, skills, goals, and aspirations. That is why, when you design an employee development plan, it is important to understand what your employees' needs are and where they aspire to be. Again, using a survey tool like Empuls can help you easily collect inputs from employees and derive meaningful insights from it.

3. Create a plan that meets organizational and employee needs

If your development plan focuses only on achieving organizational goals and doesn't consider employee needs, it can leave them actively disengaged and unmotivated.

At the same time, if your development plan focuses only on employee needs, side-lining the organizational goals, it can be called a career development plan and not an employee development plan.

An employee engagement plan should balance and satisfy the agendas of both employees and the organization to maximize profitability and engagement,

4. Choose a suitable medium and tools

Once you design an employee development plan, the next thing is to figure out the right tools, mediums, and resources to make it effective.

Some of the most popular mediums include–mentoring, coaching, cross-training, job rotation, online videos, podcasts, ebooks, e-courses, tuition reimbursements, etc. From trendy to traditional, there are many more ideas for you to explore.

5. Track the results and refine your strategy

Like any other business process, employee development plans should be tested, refined, and optimized over time for the best outcomes. Employee surveys, one-on-one discussions, performance metrics, and feedback can all be ways to track and improvise your employee engagement and development plan.

A tool like Empuls can help you do all this and more with ease. The outcome of the analysis can improve the effectiveness and adjust the trajectory of the employee development plan.

After following all these steps and best practices, an organization may still face challenges. Let's take a look at what they can be.

Ways to improve an employee development plan

Here are the steps every organization must follow to make their employee development program more effective.

1. Drive your managers to coach their teams and employees

Historically, managers have always been the anchors for learning. Learning about the what, why, when, where, and how organizational working, technology, policies, and general best practices have always been through managers. However, off late, managers are overburdened and have lost the focus on mentoring and coaching.

Organizations need to kindle the enthusiasm in managers through recognition, incentives, and rewards to mentor and coach their teams. They also need to coach the managers to understand the importance and benefits of their team development.

2. Deal with the short-shelf life of learning and development needs

The times when employee development plans used to be relevant for years are behind us. Employee development plans can become obsolete quickly – sometimes in just months.

In today's evolving technology landscape, organizations need to constantly support and meet the growing demands of employee learning and development. They need to relook at their larger objectives and develop new employee development plans from time to time.

3. Encourage employees to own their career development

One-size-fits-all employee development plans that are highly structured are not relevant anymore. Each employee's career path, interests, and goals are different – and so are their learning needs. Organizations need to understand those needs and own, control, and self-direct their learning programs.

However, building employee learning plans that are 'customized' for every individual and cost-effective at scale can be challenging for organizations.

4. Build customized learning programs for your virtual teams

Every organization has a percentage of employees who work virtually – be it the field sales executives, remote professionals, or the gig workforce. These employees often get overlooked or miss out on when developing learning programs.

Just because employees are out of sight doesn't mean they need to be out of mind. For an employee learning plan to be successful, it must cater to the specific learning needs of a hybrid workforce.

5. Offer different learning options to different learning styles.

Today's workforce comprises five different generations, including baby boomers, millennials, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z, and each one has different learning preferences.

Organizations should accommodate a variety of learning mediums like online courses, in-room learning, workshops, etc. to cater to the different learning styles, expectations, and preferences of employees.‍


When you look around your organization, you find different kinds of employees with different skills and capabilities. Imagine how far they can go with an effective employee engagement and development plan.

Creating an employee development plan can connect them with the right resources, opportunities, and people to help them do their best while simultaneously driving organizational goals.

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Rashmi Singanamalli

Rashmi Singanamalli LinkedIn

Rashmi is a Content Marketing Specialist at Xoxoday. She is a passionate, result-oriented, seasoned marketing professional with overall experience of 7+ years in IT industry.