The importance of employee development in the workplace

By Jostle

8 min read

The importance of employee development in the workplace
Illustration by Kevin Yu

Gone are the days when employees were expected to keep doing the same job for years on end, never getting any real chance for development and growth.

As work environments become increasingly dynamic, businesses must recognize that employee development is essential if they want to stay competitive in today's market. In a constantly evolving job market, companies today are facing increased competition for both attracting and retaining top talent. 

The benefits of investing in your staff’s professional development are huge – from improved morale and retention rates to better employee engagement, innovation, productivity, and more satisfied customers all-round. So what steps can employers take to ensure that employee development is at the center of their business strategy?

Read on to discover why employee development should be seen as an integral factor rather than just a ‘nice-to-have’ accessory in many modern workplaces.

Table of contents

Why is employee development important?

Attracting top talent

In today's job market, top talent is highly sought after by employers and is in constant demand. As such, companies must find ways to stand out if they want to attract and retain the best candidates. Employee development is one major way in which companies can set themselves apart from the competition. 

By offering opportunities for growth and learning, employers show that they are committed to investing in their employees' futures and that they value personal and professional development. This can help to create a culture of learning and growth within the company, which will attract top talent who value these qualities in the workplace. 

For example, a company that offers regular training opportunities, mentorship programs, and career development plans is more likely to attract top talent as compared to a company that does not prioritize employee development. Ultimately, investing in employee development is a win-win situation for both employers and employees and is an important way to attract and retain the best talent in today's competitive job market.

See how employee retention boosts employee success

Retain employees 

As a business owner or manager, you understand the importance of cultivating a loyal team. Employee development is crucial for retaining employees and creating a positive work culture. By offering professional development opportunities, you show your team members that you value their growth and success. This not only increases job satisfaction but it also boosts morale and decreases turnover rates. 

Whether it's providing opportunities for further education, hands-on training, mentorship programs, or career advancement, investing in employee development shows your staff that you value their goals and aspirations. By offering them a chance to learn and grow within the company, you create a sense of loyalty and commitment to your organization. 

Imagine an employee who comes to work each day feeling challenged and appreciated, knowing that they have room to grow and the tools to do so. This employee is more likely to stay with your company over the long term, promoting loyalty and commitment within your team. Investing in your employees is a win-win situation, leading to a thriving and committed workforce.

Engage employees


Employee development is vital in keeping employees engaged and motivated in the workplace. By providing employees with opportunities to learn new skills and grow in their roles, you can boost their satisfaction and confidence and create a more motivated and productive workforce. When employees feel that they are continually progressing and learning, they are more likely to feel invested in their work and motivated to succeed. Additionally, employees who feel their company is committed to their professional growth are often more loyal and dedicated. 

Imagine an employee working in the same role for several years without any clear path for growth or development. They may feel stagnant and unfulfilled, leading to disengagement and decreased productivity. On the other hand, consider an employee who has been given opportunities to attend training sessions, work on new projects, and perhaps even pursue additional education or certification. This employee is more likely to feel challenged, supported, and confident in their abilities, leading to higher engagement and job satisfaction

As they gain more experience, confidence, and expertise, this employee becomes more invested in their work, keen to take on new challenges, and motivated to keep growing and achieving more. As a result, they are happier in their job and more likely to stick around for the long haul. So, if you want to keep your employees energized, enthusiastic, and committed to your company, investing in their development is a surefire way to achieve this.

Improve business performance

Employee development is an integral part of any business's success. By investing in the growth and progress of your team, you create a culture of learning and development that will positively impact your business. Employee development programs can range from workshops to training courses to on-the-job experiences. Whatever the method, the outcome always leads to improved business performance. 

Take, for example, a sales team. By investing in communication and negotiation skills, sales representatives can close more deals, increase revenue, and ultimately contribute to the organization's success. An investment in employee development is, therefore, an investment in your company's future. Providing relevant training and development opportunities will ultimately lead to businesses outperforming their competitors through a team of highly skilled, motivated, and engaged employees.

By honing their skills and knowledge, employees become empowered to perform better, take on new challenges, and become leaders in their own right. This, in turn, leads to a more resilient and effective work environment where each person contributes to the company's goals. For example, a small startup could invest in training its employees in modern digital workspace marketing techniques, which would allow the team to create compelling campaigns and reach new customers. As a result, the company would enjoy increased profits and market share. 

How to create an effective development plan?

Mentorship opportunities

Creating an effective employee development plan isn't just about sending them to conferences or providing the resources to learn new skills. Mentorship opportunities are a top way to help your employees grow both professionally and personally. But how do you introduce this type of program in a way that truly resonates with your team members? 

One example is to offer mentorship through an open application process, allowing employees to choose their mentors based on their areas of interest and expertise. This gives employees agency in their growth and makes the mentorship program more personalized and valuable. 

Additionally, consider hosting regular check-ins between mentors and mentees to track progress and provide guidance. With this approach, mentorship opportunities can become a highlight of your employee development plan that encourages growth, collaboration, and success.

Lunch and learns

As a manager, you always want to create an effective employee development plan that benefits both your employees and your business. One of the top ways to achieve this is through Lunch and Learns. Essentially, it involves having your employees come together during their lunchtime to learn something new. It's a great way to offer professional development opportunities without wasting too much time on your employees' workday. 

To introduce Lunch and Learns, start by identifying the specific areas that your employees are interested in. Then, schedule and invite guest speakers or subject matter experts to share their knowledge. For example, if you have employees interested in improving their project management skills, you could invite a consultant to share tips and tricks for managing projects. By offering engaging content during lunch, your employees will feel appreciated and receive valuable training.

Professional training budget

Investing in your employees' skill development through a professional training budget is a smart business move. It creates a culture of learning and growth within your organization and can also increase retention rates and productivity. But where do you start? One way is to evaluate which skills your employees need to master to excel in their positions. 

From there, you can research training programs and workshops that align with those skills. For instance, if you run a digital marketing company, you may want to invest in a social media advertising course for your team. 

Another practical step is to set measurable goals for your employees' development and track their progress. By doing so, you can verify the effectiveness of your training budget and make necessary adjustments. Remember, investing in your employees' growth is investing in your company's success.

Set up a performance measurement system


Setting up a performance measurement system is key to creating meaningful and impactful employee development plans. One practical way to do this is by setting clear and achievable goals for every employee. These goals should be specific, measurable, and aligned with the organization's overall objectives. 

Regular check-ins and feedback sessions should be scheduled to ensure that progress is being made and adjustments can be made as necessary. Another way to set up a great performance measurement system is by incorporating peer-to-peer feedback. Encouraging employees to give and receive feedback from each other can help foster a culture of continuous improvement and accountability. 

One example of this could be implementing a 360-review process, where employees receive feedback from their managers, peers, and direct reports. By setting up a robust measurement system, employees can be empowered to take control of their professional development and work towards achieving their full potential.

Reward high performers

Rewarding high performers is essential to creating an effective employee development plan. After all, nothing motivates employees quite like being recognized for their hard work and dedication. Fortunately, there are many practical and specific ways to reward high performance. 

For example, you could offer monetary incentives such as bonuses or raises. Alternatively, you could offer non-monetary incentives such as extra vacation time or the opportunity to work on a high-profile project. Another effective strategy is to provide ongoing feedback and recognition, which can help employees feel valued and appreciated for their contributions. 

Ultimately, the key to creating an effective employee development plan is finding the right incentives that align with your organization's culture, values, and goals. Doing so can inspire high performance, enhance employee engagement, and create a more dynamic and productive workplace.

Final thoughts

Employee development is more than just a "check the box" task. It is an essential part of helping individuals and organizations reach their goals. It's not something that can be done once and forgotten; instead, it must be a part of an ongoing commitment to growth and success. 

No matter what type of employee development strategy you decide to use, it will undoubtedly bring a range of positive outcomes, such as better job satisfaction, increased skillsets, improved productivity, higher employee engagement and morale, and unifying business objectives. By taking the initiative and investing in employee development programs and activities, businesses put themselves in the best possible position for employee success in the modern workplace.


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