Behind every great business is a group of incredible employees, each bringing their own unique set of skills and talents to the job every day. But what if you could take those skills and develop them even further? Who knows where it could take you and your business!

Many successful organizations know how important it is to invest in the talent of their employees. Companies with dedicated employee training and development programs see not only a sharp increase in profits but also have a high level of staff retention, which is vital for business growth. And no matter how the training is offered, whether through in-person conferences or virtual webinars, most business leaders will agree it’s a smart move to invest in the career growth of your employees.

What is employee training and development?

The idea of employee training and development is certainly nothing new. Many organizations invest heavily in employee training and development because the benefits of training employees are immense and diverse. Development programs tend to focus more on a broader set of skills, such as leadership coaching, communication, and decision making and work to increase employees’ future performance and growth. Employee training programs, on the other hand, focus more on goals related to improving the productivity and accuracy of current processes within the company. This type of training is more about learning new skills and acquiring specific knowledge that employees can apply instantly to bring out improvements in their current job performance.

Why is employee development important?

Employers who invest in staff development ultimately help their employees hone their individual strengths and grow their skills, which in turn helps to better equip them for their current roles. This adds more value to the work that they do and directly benefits your business, through increased productivity.

What’s more, when considering a place of employment, job seekers will often look more favorably at an employer that values their growth and development. Making learning and development a focus of your company culture helps improve employee engagement, increase retention, and attract elite candidates.

What are the benefits of employee training and development?

1) It results in lower turnover rates

When you invest in your team, you invest in their loyalty! When employees get an opportunity to learn new skills, gain knowledge and enhance personal growth, they tend to stay on with a company as they feel their career is headed in a positive direction. Investing time and money into training is worth the investment as it means you retain skilled employees, in turn saving you thousands of dollars in the long run. Plus, if your employee feels valued, they are much less likely to leave and will feel a deeper sense of commitment to the company.

2) It develops future leaders

Training your employees with the skills for future leadership can be essential in establishing a business designed for growth and evolution. Leaders who feel empowered in the workplace will be more effective at influencing fellow employees and gaining their trust. Providing leadership development training for employees will also help them to develop a greater sense of autonomy, value, and confidence in their work, which can then lead to greater productivity.

3) It inspires team building and networking

When you work together and train together as a team, you also learn and grow together. Providing training and development opportunities can foster a sense of camaraderie amongst colleagues, increase motivation and improve loyalty to the organization. Even if team members are relatively new, they will often form friendships during and after the training as they see they have common goals and interests.

4) It encourages employee self-initiative and growth

With the right type of employee development program, there is most certainly going to be employees who feel empowered to pursue their career goals, lean into their interests and take their future into their own hands. Plus, with ongoing training opportunities, employees learn new skills, develop existing ones, and take on greater responsibilities within the company, leading to greater productivity and increased sales/performance. It can also increase competency levels and create a cycle of personal growth, cultivating a positive culture among employees. It can help foster a goal-oriented mindset in your employees and make it more natural for them to divide their most challenging or complex goals into measurable, time-bound tasks.

5) It improves employee skills and knowledge

Investing in employee development means investing in improving the skills and knowledge of your employees. This in turn creates an environment where your people succeed and when your people succeed, your company succeeds. Tailored and targeted professional development improves the skills and knowledge your team needs the most and contributes to the overall success of your organization.

How to create a strong employee development plan

Tailoring your plan to your workplace is critical. There is no one size fits all employee development plan. Factors such as your industry and staff size, learning preferences, subject matter and accessibility can affect what and how you deliver your plan.

Step 1: Evaluate your short- and long-term company goals

Think about where you want your company to be in the short and long term. Do you have specific goals you’re hoping to achieve? What do you need to do to get there? Are there certain skills your employees need to have in order to achieve those goals? Asking yourself these questions will help you determine the steps needed to create a development plan aimed at achieving those goals.

Step 2: Create employee-specific development plans

With your goals in mind, create employee specific development plans that focus on the individual needs and interests of your employees.  Employees should be held accountable for adhering to their individual plan, while managers should be responsible for guiding and supporting them as needed.

Step 3: Provide opportunities for development

Offer company wide professional development opportunities that focus on key areas of growth. If a majority of employees express interest in a specific topic, consider offering development opportunities throughout the workday or as full-day workshops. If your employees are interested in a variety of topics, consider offering a stipend to support their individual pursuits.

Step 4: Evaluate and offer feedback

The effects of employee development may not be seen right away or may be difficult to gauge. The strongest indicator of success will be your employees’ responses and their overall engagement in work related tasks. Feedback is essential to grow and develop as a team.

In the ever-changing business world, it’s important to stay ahead of your competitors. To do so, you need to understand the importance of training and developing your employees. No matter their abilities, roles or experience level, professional development will benefit your employees and your organization as a whole. Training represents a long-term investment in your organization’s ability to recruit, retain and promote talented individuals.