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Talent Development

How to get started with employee development

December 8, 2021
4 minutes
Emily Vo

Emily Vo

Growth Hacker
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January 2, 2022
Talent Development

How to get started with employee development

4 minutes
Emily Vo

Employee development is an essential part of future growth and success for organizations in today’s economy. Organizations are doubling down on developing people and letting employees in charge of their career development. Some are quite far along, while others are just getting started to implement the new approach. Organizations might find it is difficult to get employee development on the right track. But no matter where you are on the journey, there is always room for growth and improvement. In this article, we will explore what exactly employee development is and isn’t. We will also share some tips for how organizations can successfully achieve their goals by investing in employees.

Why Employee Development Matters?

To thrive in the new digital economy, organizations need to invest in their most valuable assets - the employees. The old way of employee management with performance appraisal, annual reviews, and ranking employees against each other is becoming irrelevant.

Employees today need more support and development than ever before to tackle rapid changes. In addition, investing in people's growth isn't just a "nice" to have, it is a must because it makes business sense and reduces employee turnover costs. Employees who care about their growth and career often have high consideration for quitting if they see that there is no possibility for advancement.

That’s where employee development comes in. It offers a new process by which organization can develop, motivate, and retain top talent from within as well as attract new potential employees.  

Let's break it down for more insights!

Employee development is an ongoing effort to identify and match employees' capabilities to the organization's needs, evaluate skills gaps, provide training programs, and manage succession planning. It also provides the resources, tools and support necessary for employees to take on new skills and prepare for changes.

With the right approach, employee development allows people to grow with organizations and engage in new opportunities. Such activities can lead to more capable employees and better organizationals performance.

There is no one-size-fit-all approach, however, employee development is best handled when individual employees receive guidance and opportunity to customize career path that include learning at their advance.

Why is Employee Development often Neglected?

Despite its importance to future workforce and less expensive than turnover, employee development often neglected. One reason is that organization and business leaders tend to focus on essential day-to-day operations instead of recognizing the potentials of the future and proactively investing in long-term activities.

Another reason is training and development exercises are done but rarely acted upon. We often see top management spend a significant amount of time labeling employees into categories that don't give insights into their potentials or confusing matrices. And because it is a time-consuming exercise, managers are more concerned with completing the assignment. This leads to employees can be misplaced into a category that doesn't fit their needs and capabilities or missing the opportunity to develop.

There is no time for training and development is also another reason that we often hear. Indeed, there is no time if organizations focus only on results and performance without concern that the employees need the training to get the work done. There will always be time for learning and development if that time is prioritized by management. Set out the time for training and encourage employees to block their calendar to integrate the training are actions to promote employee development.

How Does It Different Than Employee Management?

Well, some people think employee development and employee management are the same. However, there are significant differences between the two. They are not interchangeable. It’s important for companies to use both to achieve targets and goals.  

Employee management focuses on recruiting and staffing an organization with high-quality employees. Managers are tasked with creating operational strategies and succession planning.

By contrast, employee development encourages employee to take on new skills and competencies through learning and development. It provides learning opportunities and tools for people to advance in their careers overall. The goal of employee development is to engage employees and promote high work performance.

Thus, employee management seeks to achieve future goals with the skills employees already have. It does not consider the hidden skills or potential in employees.

Employee development is geared to find employees (from within the organization and upon hire) who can obtain the skills that will be necessary to achieve organizational targets. Employees are not necessarily expected to already have those skills. More emphasis is placed on having a motivate and satisfied workforce that can transform along with the organization.

Common Misconceptions About Employee Development

In addition to confusing employee development with employee management, organizations often have other misconceptions about the process.  

Companies spent billions of dollars on training and development annually. However, they often fail to get a buy-in from employees. The workforce needs to be engaged, interested, and ready to take part in these opportunities. Organizations should ensure they are providing sought-after opportunities to employees.  

Businesses also often struggle to identify their needs in the current worldwide economy. It’s important to fully understand strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) before considering the types of development that employees need. Employee development should be aligned with the needs of the organization.

Many companies struggle with how to deploy and organize employee development programs. They require collaboration between human resources, managers, and team members. There should be a clear understanding of the objectives of the development opportunities. The organization should also ensure they have committed to supporting the needs of both the business and the individuals.  

According to a 2019 Deloitte study, the majority of employees are dissatisfied with pay and lack of opportunities. Organizations fail to realise that they can map out a path to increase employee value through learning and development opportunities, which coincidentally, the lack of was the third reason for employees to leave their current organizations. When employees engage in development, their value increases to the extent that it supports a raise in financial compensation and advancement.

How to Do It Right?

Many organizations are so focused on what they have that they don’t consider how they could contribute to their employees’ skills and knowledge through employee development program. Here are 10 tips for how the development process can be done right.  

  1. Identify the goals and needs of the business as well as individuals
  1. Provide employees with opportunities to upskill and reskill
  1. Find diverse learning opportunities
  1. Give team members options regarding how and what they work towards
  1. Promote a culture of workplace learning with benefits and rewards
  1. Present opportunities for growth within the organization
  1. Offer development for technical and non-technical skills
  1. Design a roadmap for employees to follow that will lead to their success
  1. Track progress of individuals as well as the organization as a whole
  1. Follow up with employees to ensure goals are being met


Employee development is the process by which organizations will be able to grow and change as the world’s economy transforms. Investment in employees no longer means paying part of health benefits and providing a coffee pot. Instead, the best talent needs continuous learning and development opportunities. When employee development becomes part of an organization’s culture, the company will better be able to achieve their goals.

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