Businesses are always in search of self-starting, go-getter candidates. However, they sometimes fail to capitalize on employee talents once they’re integrated into the company. In order to tap into employee potential, organizations are increasingly using a development plan for employees to help push employees to reach their full professional potential.
The idea behind this kind of strategic investment is simple: everyone benefits when companies provide employees with the tools, resources, and guidance to become their best selves.
And workers want opportunities to grow. According to a Gallup poll, 87% of millennials say that professional development and career growth opportunities are “very important” to them in a job. Further, workers say they change jobs primarily for career opportunities. If an organization aims to attract and keep the best talent, it should make an employee development plan a core component of its operations.
In this blog, we’ll run through everything you need to know about employee development plans, including what they are, the benefits they bring, and how to create one.
- What is a development plan for employees?
- Employee development plan: The benefits
- How to create a development plan for employees
- Employee development plan examples
First, let’s outline what a development plan for employees is not. It’s not a Performance Improvement Plan, which outlines weaknesses and improvement areas for an underperforming employee. A development plan charts a path for an employee’s career growth within the company. It’s an investment in the employee’s training, education, and career development, a robust plan that companies organize and arrange in conjunction with the employee.
Universally regarded as a highly-effective tool that noticeably improves employee and company performance, they are made available to all members of the organization. However, each development plan is unique and tailored to each employee’s capabilities, interests, and needs, in line with the organizations’ goals.
There’s a reason why the leading companies invest so heavily in their employees’ development: they benefit the employee and the organization.
First, let’s take a look at how they benefit employees.
Benefits for Employees
Employees plateau when they feel they’ve reached a professional dead-end. Development plans ensure they continue to progress and stay engaged within their role.
Modern employees increasingly expect their relationship with their employers to be symbiotic. A happy staff member believes an organization cares about their progress and role within the company. An employment development plan thus provides employees with the security they need.
Development plans give employees the training, guidance, and confidence to step up and take on more challenging tasks.
The Benefits to the Employer
A 2019 SHRM study found that a skills shortage among candidates affected 75% of recruitment managers experiencing difficulty during the recruitment process. An employee development plan can provide existing employees with the skills that the HR team cannot find in the competitive employment marketplace.
Attract And Keep Employees
The best candidates want to continue to grow and develop throughout the career. That means they are more likely to apply for jobs at companies with employee development programs. Once they’re on board, they’ll be less likely to leave. This will help to reduce staff turnover — and save money on hiring and training a new employee.
If an organization is to be prosperous tomorrow, it needs to identify future leaders today. Employee development plans can turn a great member of staff into a leader. It is therefore a succession-management tool that helps to shape the future of the company.
Employee development isn’t free, but the costs can bring a handsome return on investment. One study found that small investments in employee development ($1,500 or less per employee per year) lead to an average of 83.5% higher revenue. Larger investments ($5,000 or more per employee per year) lead to an average of 104.9% higher revenue.
A well-constructed employee development plan provides the member of staff with a clear pathway towards professional development. For that reason, you should create each with the specific employee in mind. Below, we’ll outline a five-step process for creating a development plan that benefits both the employee and the company.
Step One: Your Business Objectives
Development plans benefit the organization first and the employee second. The first step is to identify the company’s short-, middle-, and long-term business objectives and then locate the skills needed to reach those objectives.
Step Two: Meet With Your Staff
The employee must be happy with their development plan and should be involved in the creation process. Discussing their career ambitions, strengths and weaknesses, and professional goals will help you align the right business objective with the right employee. Employees can conduct self-assessments in through the employee portal in order to help HR get an idea of where to go.
Step Three: Assess the Employees’ Short- and Long-Term Potential
“Development” is the key word in “employee development plan.” While an employee might have the potential to move into a management role, that doesn’t mean that they’re ready now. Thus each development plan should function as another step on the ladder that’ll eventually lead to the end goal. Accessing historical performance reviews can help analyze an employee’s readiness for a role.
Step Four: What Training Methods and Tools Will You Use?
There’s more than one way to learn. Development programs may utilize in-classroom training, mentorship programs, on-the-job training projects, or job rotation, or a combination of several methods.
Step Five: Ongoing Management
Finally, determine how you will monitor and support the employee’s progress. How will the organization provide ongoing support and guidance to the employee? Make sure to address how often HR will check-in with the employee, how the employee can submit training-related expenses, and how you’ll integrate the employee’s new talents into their role/organization at large.
The specifics of each development plan will differ, but the basic template can look the same.
The development plan will outline the end-goal, an objective, a method for achieving that objective, and a timeframe for completion. Keep in mind that all goals should be SMART — that is to say, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
Goal: The employee will receive a promotion and move one rung up the ladder.
Objective: To receive that promotion, the employee must improve their performance by 20% (compared to last year).
Method: The employee will complete an online course, attend a training weekend, work with a mentor, and so forth.
Completion: Set a target date for the completion of the action points. The employee should only work on one action point at a time. Further, it’s best to slowly build-up to the more challenging actions.
Along with the plan itself, be sure to have an ongoing dialogue with the employee and use performance management software to solicit and provide feedback.
Make a Plan to Foster Employee Growth
A development plan for employees doesn’t just improve performance and productivity. It also increases employee engagement, and helps organizations to achieve their business goals, all for a relatively low cost. They’re a highly-valuable strategic tool that all forward-thinking companies must adopt in order to stay competitive.