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Employee Engagement

The Importance of Employee Development at Work, and Where HR Fits In

September 28, 2021
7 min read
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Performance Management, Supercharged


Employee development in the workplace has recently been a hot topic in light of the ongoing candidate shortage. It’s never been more important than now when jobs are in great supply, and job seekers have lots of options. Millions of Americans are quitting their jobs this year: 3.98 million in July; 3.87 million in June; a record 3.99 million in April. It’s clear that the fight for talent is ongoing.

With so many workers quitting, it’s imperative that companies strengthen their retention efforts to hold onto top talent.  Many retention initiatives also serve as recruitment strategies, and employee development programs are one of those. Employee development is a mutually beneficial effort between employer and employee, in which employers help employees refine and expand their skill sets to assist company goals.

Today’s post will look at more of the benefits of employee development. We’ll also include tips to help you begin or boost professional development efforts at your organization:

  • How HR can lead employee development efforts
  • How to promote development starting with the onboarding process
  • How to support career growth throughout employee life cycles
94% of employees say they’re more likely to stay at a company that invests in their learning and #development. According to @ClearCompany, that’s not the only reason your company should put #employeedevelopment first:

Why Is Employee Development Important?

Retention rates are as much as 34% higher when companies offer development opportunities. A staggering 94% of workers said that if a company invested in their learning and development, they would stay there longer.  It’s clear that boosting retention is a major reason why employee development is so important in the workplace.

74% of employees said they feel they’re not reaching their full potential at work due to a lack of opportunities. That indicates a large number of workers have a desire to realize that potential, given the chance. It’s very likely that there is high-potential talent at your company who can emerge as top performers with the right employee development strategy.

Today’s job seekers recognize the importance of employee development opportunities. 48% of job seekers said gaining new skills was a top reason they were looking for a new position. That’s strong evidence that offering growth opportunities serves to attract driven, motivated candidates. When employees are able to learn new skills, they can move up in your company and take on more responsibility. 

48% of job seekers said gaining new skills was a top reason they were looking for a new position.

Today’s top talent is searching for a company that invests in its employees’ career growth and long-term success. If your company is searching for more effective recruitment and retention strategies, listening to candidates’ wants and needs is key. A well-executed development plan is a huge asset to HR strategies and individual employees. It’s an asset to your business as a whole, too: research shows that learning and training programs can increase revenue by 218% per employee.

Start Career Growth With Hiring And Onboarding

Show candidates and new hires that your organization is serious about employee development from their first interaction with your company. Mention development initiatives in job descriptions to attract candidates who are looking to grow in their next position. Incorporate growth opportunities into the onboarding process to reiterate the importance of employee development.

Your organization can implement critical elements of professional development during onboarding:

  • Mentorship program: Retention rates for mentees are as high as 72%. Pairing new hires with a mentor has numerous benefits. It helps new hires feel welcome and gives them a space to explore their career goals. Mentoring programs also offer experienced employees a chance to share their expertise and foster future company leaders.
  • Goal-setting: Set goals large and small with new hires during onboarding. Work with new hires to determine what they need and want to accomplish in the next few weeks, months, and years. Upfront goal-setting eliminates confusion about what is expected of employees in the near future. It also makes it easier to take steps toward accomplishing their larger goals.
  • Employee engagement: Encourage mutual feedback between employees and the company right away with an engagement survey after onboarding. Send an anonymous survey to groups of employees onboarded around the same time to gauge the effectiveness of the onboarding process.
Robust #employeedevelopment programs increase revenue by as much as 218% per employee. See more reasons why companies should prioritize employee growth from @ClearCompany:

Keep Developing Employees After Onboarding

Of course, effective employee development in the workplace continues long after onboarding. Strengthen employee growth and retention with a plan that includes frequent feedback, regular performance reviews, and recognition of accomplishments and milestones.

While building your employee development plan, keep these tips in mind for a program that produces results:

  • Support continuing education. Actively encourage employees to take learning opportunities when they arise — and provide the resources for them to do so. Set aside a budget for each department to spend annually on things like conferences, skills training classes, and new certifications. 
  • Explore strengths-based employee development. Let employees tell you what they’re good at, and then help them get even better at it. According to Gallup, when employees know and use their strengths, they are six times as likely to be engaged at work.
  • Track progress during performance reviews. Use performance reviews to not only take stock of overall performance but also to assess progress toward employees’ development goals — and set new ones.

When employees know and use their strengths, they are six times as likely to be engaged at work.

How HR Leads Employee Development

It’s clear to HR teams that the nature of recruitment and retention has changed massively over the past two years. Old strategies are no longer working as well as they once did. It’s a candidate’s market. No other department knows more about trends in the talent landscape and what job seekers really want out of their roles.

That’s why it’s the HR department’s time to shine. HR can lead the charge in creating a successful employee development plan by implementing the strategies mentioned above. Performance management software can make it easy to include these new approaches and measure their effectiveness. When HR implements performance management software, they can consult real employee data to make better decisions.

Many features of performance management software enable a strong employee development plan:

  • 360-degree Performance Reviews: 360-degree reviews use insights from managers and employees’ teammates to assess performance. With more insight from varied perspectives, employees learn more about their strengths and areas with opportunities for growth.
  • Goal Planning & Alignment: Easily set employee goals that align with company goals with Goal Planning tools. Reminders and status updates help employees stay on track to meet their goals and keep teams informed of goal progress.
  • Employee Engagement Surveys: Employee Engagement surveys give employees a chance to give honest, anonymous feedback about various aspects of their role. With surveys, companies have the opportunity to determine how effective their development strategies really are and make improvements if needed.

ClearCompany’s Performance Management, Engagement, and Goal Planning tools are a key part of a powerful employee development strategy. Our award-winning software has helped clients like Halloran Consulting Group engage, retain, and develop top performers.

Find out what ClearCompany’s Performance Management platform can do for your workforce. Sign up for a free demo with product experts today!

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