Employee Development: Where to Start

Employee development is a great way to create a healthy, thriving company culture while investing in future talent. Great candidates can be hard to come by, so learning how to teach hired talent to reach their full potential can be a major boon to management consulting firms. Investing in existing talent saves the time and energy that would otherwise be spent searching for new hires.

Employee development also supports employee retention. This is because one of the main reasons employees seek new jobs with other companies is a lack of professional growth opportunities. With this in mind, this article provides an in-depth look at employee training and development practices to identify the best employee development ideas. Additionally, we suggest certain employee development plan templates based on different employee development plan examples. Let’s dive in.

Employee Development, employee development plan, employee development plan examples, employee development plan template, employee training and development, developing employee wellness programs, total employee development, employee development companies, definition employee development, employee development training, employee development ideas, what is employee development

What Is Employee Development?

What is employee development? Employee development is the process of teaching new skills and competencies to current employees to meet company demands. Some of the primary benefits of employee development include increased employee satisfaction and increased retention rates. The textbook definition of employee development may seem simple, but in practice, employee development training must be more than a mandatory weekly meeting pertaining to a certain skill. Total employee development requires a mindfully-crafted employee development plan…

Creating An Employee Development Plan

Now that we’ve answered the question, “what is employee development?”, how can you create an effective employee development plan? Employee training and development go hand in hand. A strong employee development plan template considers the initial training process for new employees.

The most important element of creating a total employee development plan is evaluating the firm’s long-term goals and ensuring that they are aligned with employee goals. Management teams must be on the same page about said goals throughout the hiring and employee development process. Following a template is a great way to visualize an employee development plan once the proper evaluation is done.

Employee Training and Development

How can you ensure your employee training and development programs will be effective? Here are our suggestions:

  1. Make sure professional training opportunities are available from day one.

This helps set up employees for success by demonstrating long-term growth as a core value, while not wasting any time on hired talent.

  1. Develop managers into coaches and mentors.

A regular one-on-one meeting approach facilitates caring relationships in the workplace. Intentional conversations during check-ins can introduce managers as coaches to newer employees.

  1. Encourage collaboration across departments.

Do you think a data analytics team has nothing to learn from a marketing team? Wrong. Sharing skills across departments fosters a stronger sense of community at work while facilitating learning and questioning amongst employees with different skill sets.

  1. Don’t overlook soft skills.

Essential human competencies are often overlooked in corporate environments. Collaboration and communication skills are the bread and butter of employee development. Utilize managers and employees with strong soft skills in the total employee development process.

  1. Remember that employee development goes hand-in-hand with personal development.

Intellectual growth, physical health, and emotional stability are critical to employee development. See the “developing employee wellness programs” section below to delve deeper into this topic.

Developing Employee Wellness Programs

Top management consulting firms provide competitive benefits to employees. Developing employee wellness programs that align with employees’ wellness goals can go a long way in boosting company morale and increasing employee retention. If employees sense that their employers are invested not only in their productivity but in their well-being, then they are likely to feel more fulfilled and therefore perform better at work. In sum, people who show up for themselves with regard to their mental health, physical health, and intellectual growth are bound to become better employees.

Employee Development Plan Examples

As far as employee development plan examples go, the following steps demonstrate one of the many possible routes.

  1. Conduct a thorough analysis of skills gaps.

All of the best employee development plan examples begin with a skills gap analysis. Knowing employees’ upskilling needs prepares the firm for the future.

  1. Identify employees with strong leadership potential and career growth desires.

The definition of employee development entails a desire to invest in employees’ raw potential. Developing an eye for key leadership indicators can help the management team identify which employees might eventually lead the firm and subsequently encourage them to jump on the opportunity.

  1. Check in to see if employee goals align with company goals.

Successful employee development companies make sure that their employees are genuinely interested in the type of professional development being offered.

  1. Help employees grow with you.

As employees receive new training and learn new skills, so should the company’s practices at large—depending on the trajectory of the industry. Where is the company headed in the next five or ten years?

  1. Follow an employee development plan template (see the next section).

Templates make it easier to visualize and set a concrete plan for employee training and development.

  1. Consider different types of employee training.

Leadership training

Leadership training could take form through any of the following methods:

      • Coaching
      • Mentorship programs
      • Job shadowing
      • Cross-training
Upskilling Strategies

Additionally, there are different upskilling strategies that should be carefully considered given employee and company needs. Here are three of our favorites:

      • Microlearning
      • Augmented Reality
      • Training on-the-job
  1. Keep track of your results.

This will inform future decisions on employee promotions while shedding light on whether the employee development training plan garnered the intended results.

Employee Development Plan Template

A quick online search of employee development plan templates yields hundreds of results. With the exception of a few visual differences, most of these results reflect the same core ideas. There are two common employee development plan templates.

Individual employee development plan template

This is best suited to younger organizations and newer employees who aren’t as certain about what their professional goals might entail. These templates are relatively simple, identifying knowledge gaps and exploring the ways skills and goals align with organizational goals. These templates may also include a timeline for desired skills and growth.

Succession template

This template works best for companies looking to the future leadership of the company. Investing in in-house talent to assume leadership is always a strong choice if the right employee gains the proper skills for a leadership position.

These plans are more long-term, with an emphasis on leadership skills and gaining a breadth of experience. Succession templates are geared towards the following questions: What does it take to reach the pinnacle of one’s career? What does the ladder leading to said pinnacle look like if the path to growth within a company is linear? Managers can and should assist hires with leadership potential through this process. High-achieving, ambitious employees will be more likely to succeed if they can clearly visualize where their ambition can take them.

Employee Development Ideas

Looking for employee development ideas? Look no further; here are six tips:

  1. Provide consistent, ongoing training and learning opportunities for employees.

This process begins with onboarding. Establishing channels for employee development early on plants the seed that employees can advance within the company if they take advantage of the opportunities provided. Ongoing training helps employees feel secure in their choices rather than confused and uncertain. Teaching new skills instills confidence in top employees, thereby setting them up for success in the future.

  1. Acknowledge employee growth and promote accordingly.

Employees need to feel seen and appreciated for their efforts if they are to remain interested in working at a firm. Showing employees an employee development plan template can give them something to work towards beyond the day-to-day functions of their role.

  1. Create a workforce education program (more than just tuition assistance).

Tuition assistance is the norm these days. While some tuition assistance programs might align with company goals, the employee development strategies that companies benefit from most often come from within the organization. A more specific, total employee development strategy can be implemented in-house with the proper trainers and funds.

  1. Encourage development outside of the organization through conferences and other events.

Implementing training opportunities exclusively during work hours can be limiting. Networking events or niche conferences can be a great way to upskill employees.

  1. Build a company culture that celebrates knowledge sharing.

Some of the greatest learning opportunities unfold between coworkers—as they are uniquely equipped to come up with their own employee development ideas based on their team’s strengths and weaknesses. Open and honest communication, of course, is the key to making this possible. Establishing a collaborative working environment—perhaps through developing employee wellness programs—can facilitate a company culture centered around truth and open dialogue.

  1. Provide feedback and conduct reviews regularly.

Going beyond an annual or 6-month review system can give employees greater clarity on their strengths and weaknesses and how they align with company needs and goals. Likewise, consistent reviewing and feedback allows management to reaffirm their commitment to the company’s mission and direction. Additionally, regular reviews provide a channel for acknowledging accomplishments, which helps instill confidence in employees.


When done correctly, employee development training can be an amazingly lucrative investment for consulting firms. The textbook definition of employee development may seem simple, but on the contrary, the process must be taken seriously and implemented with deliberate, focused decision making. There are many potential routes with regard to the process of developing employees, so make sure to have a deep awareness of company goals, employee desires, and biggest skills gaps before proceeding with an employee development strategy.


Additional Resources:


Filed Under: Corporate Training, Leadership, Leadership & Management