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April 6, 2021


4 min read

How to upgrade your employee development plan

how to create an employee development plan

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An employee development plan is a powerful tool for fostering growth within your workforce. Learn how to take your EDP to the next level.

By now, most modern businesses understand the importance of developing talent. Many companies even offer individualized employee development plans designed to provide team mebers with a clear picture of how they can advance or develop new skills. 

However, simply offering an employee development plan isn’t always enough. Without the proper foundational elements, an employee development plan merely exists as a “check-the-box” benefit that’s under-utilized and fails to foster engagement within the organization.

In this article, we’ll share how to upgrade your employee development plan so that it’s effective at driving meaningful results for your business and keeps your workforce motivated and engaged.

What is an employee development plan?

Also referred to as an “employee growth plan” or “employee success plan,” an employee development plan (EDP) is a means to support employees in advancing their skill sets for improved performance in their current positions. This process also helps to prepare them to take on new roles and responsibilities within the organization. 

An employee development plan may involve any number of different techniques. Many companies implement leadership training, skill-building activities, structured reviews and so on. It’s important to acknowledge that your employees are individuals, and will have different learning styles and goals. With this in mind, you should avoid taking a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, use a variety of talent development techniques to help your diverse employee base learn and grow in ways that benefit them personally, as much as for your organization. 

What are the benefits of an employee development plan?

Before we dive into the details, let’s revisit a few reasons why employee development plans are beneficial in the first place.

  1. Talent acquisition. The opportunity for growth is extremely important to many job seekers, and having a structured employee development plan can attract motivated talent to apply with your company.
  2. Engagement. EDPs increase worker engagement and motivation by providing employees with tangible steps to take towards career advancement within the organization.
  3. Skill-building. Improve employee performance by providing your people with the tools and skills they need to be confident and knowledgeable in their roles.
  4. Company performance. Improved employee performance, expertise and confidence — bolstered by employee development plans — increases your organization’s efficiency and boosts your bottom line.
  5. Employee performance. Help to cultivate high-performance employees by giving them goals to work towards and continued methods to improve even more. Having a plan in place also encourages them to grow and advance by showing that their hard work will be acknowledged and rewarded.
  6. Retention. Improve retention and job satisfaction by giving your employees the support they need to be their best at your company.
  7. Aligned goals. An employee development plan allows your organization to plan for the future by setting specific and actionable personnel goals that align with your long-term business objectives. 


How to create an effective employee development plan

A development plan for employees should be more than just a checkmark on your learning and development to-do list. With the proper structure, EDPs can be incredibly effective at addressing skills gaps within your organization, motivating employees, and feeding into greater company goals.

Some questions to consider for your employee growth plan:

  • If you already have a plan in place, have you asked for employee feedback? What is the general sentiment surrounding your existing efforts?
  • How do you train an employee to fit a need which is currently not being met? 
  • What new roles can/should you create, and how do you fill those roles?
  • Does the training you currently provide lead to results that align with company goals?
  • What do your exit interviews look like, and what do they tell you about the talent left in the company?
  • Are the needs of your employees being overwhelmed by the needs of your company? If so, how can you better harmonize those needs for the benefit of both parties?


Think organizationally, but act individually

Every decision you make should work towards fulfilling company goals. But carefully consider each individual as having potential to fill a new role within the organization — every employee represents an opportunity for future organizational improvement. 

Private, frequent and free-speaking reviews can be a great way to learn about each individual and help keep their needs in focus during this process. If you haven’t already, encourage management to ask employees questions such as:

  • What are your ultimate career goals?
  • Do you feel you are able to do your best work at this company?
  • What are some things the company could do or give you which would help you do your job with more confidence and efficiency?
  • What skills are you confident that you have, and what skills do you want to improve upon or gain?
  • Where do you see yourself fitting in the company?
  • What are some goals you have/want to make while you’re here?


Having a precise understanding of the needs of your company and the needs of your employees can help you craft an employee development plan that allows for alignment between the two. 

Providing opportunities for growth

Here are a few programs you can implement to provide your employees with opportunities for growth and advancement: 

    • Mentorships allow junior and senior employees to work collaboratively, develop skills and learn from one another. 
    • Departmental cross-training enables employees to expand their knowledge of the company and identify potential areas of interest for themselves. 
    • Stretch assignments are tasks that go beyond an employee’s current skill set or scope of responsibility. The goal is to give them a challenge to complete that aligns with their learning interests and fosters growth.
    • Workforce education programs allow your employees to earn career-boosting credentials, such as an advanced degree or short-term certificate while continuing to contribute to your organization. 


Read more: Upskilling plays a critical role in any employee development plan. For actionable upskilling tactics, check out this article on how to upskill your employees.

Track the results of your employee development plan

To understand whether or not your employee development efforts are actually impactful, it’s critical to assign performance metrics to your efforts. Here are a few key metrics to review when determining if your employee development plan is working: 

  • Turnover: How frequently are employees leaving your company?
  • Employee engagement: How engaged are your team members? The meaning of “engaged” can vary from one business to the next, so be sure to define what it means for your organization.
  • Talent mobility: Are employees moving within your organization? Or are they leaving your company for external opportunities?
  • Individual goal completion: Did the employee set out to achieve the individual goals they set for themselves? This could include taking a skill-building course, earning a certificate, or taking part in a stretch project. 


The importance of having an employee development plan

As with any learning and development initiative, the details of your employee development plan will largely depend on your employees and their specific roles within the company. Additionally, roles and responsibilities are always evolving, so continue to revisit your EDP periodically. Always consider the changing needs of your workforce and how to plan for the skills and knowledge they’ll need in the years to come.

For further insight into how you can better prepare your employees for the future, click through to unlock our step-by-step guide to reskilling your workforce.