What Does Successful Employee Development Look Like?

  • Ezra
  • September 2nd, 2021

Employee development is a long-term practice that boosts the big picture of an organization, but what does it look like when it is successful in practice? Ezra discusses what a "best in class" professional and personal development program for employees looks like in a successful modern organization.

What Does Successful Employee Development Look Like?

Every company has its own approach to the concept of development. Companies can develop in a cultural sense, improve their processes, change the products to meet a changing landscape, but when we are looking at the fundamentals of what makes a business develop, it is all down to the people within. Employee development is not a one-size-fits-all process. 

From the perspective of an employer, they may believe that to look after employees, they can benefit from employee happy hours or those pithy “perks.” But if there’s anything that businesses have learned from the pandemic, it is that employees demand more when it comes to development. According to a study from Wakefield Research, over 90 percent of employees would prefer that managers address learning opportunities and mistakes in real-time, not just at the annual review. 

Employee development is a long-term initiative, but this is why many employees choose to overlook this because it doesn’t provide the benefits in the here-and-now, but it does! It improves engagement, performance, and will foster business loyalty. What does successful employee development look like? 

Providing training and networking opportunities

Opportunities are not just something that would be nice to have, but should be pivotal to what increases employee engagement. According to SHRM’s 2017 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report, 30 percent of employees considered career development opportunities for learning and personal growth as “very important.” 

You can incorporate a number of methods to help with this, such as structured development programs, but remember, the goal is to provide professional exposure. This doesn’t mean that your employees are going to jump ship at the first possible opportunity, but you will show your employees that you are trusting them to fly the flag for the business. 

Provide professional training

When your employees do not have the tools, they cannot perform well. Professional training and access to digital learning resources allow employers to fine-tune their approach, which makes it easier for employees to access development content, which is even more prudent in the age of COVID-19. According to Gartner, 70 percent of employees state that they don’t have mastery of the skills needed to do their jobs properly.

Business leaders need to seek out the right options for employees and managers to develop professional skills, which will allow an employee to seek out something that is more tailored to their career path. Don’t forget, it will serve the company because your workforce is growing and evolving, which is a mutually beneficial proposition. 

Enhancing collaboration potential

A workforce that feels more in tune will provide better results, and as 83 percent of employees rely on using technology for collaboration, we can bridge the gap more effectively. When a workforce collaborates on working practices, they can learn about other aspects of the business. This fosters additional collaboration, but it also improves empathy, while also ensuring the company has big-picture thinking at its forefront. 

However, it’s important to be cognizant of the fact that there will be a bedding-in period. Most teams are not natural when it comes to collaborating. This is why you should aim to embed this into the culture, while also ensuring your employees are aware of what collaboration and renewed perspective can do for everyone. If there is a collaboration problem, this could result in negative results further down the line. 

Help your managers

As much as you would like to foster an open-door policy between you and the employees directly, every leader has to delegate. Line managers and managers need to be better at working with people. How employees rate their managers accounts for roughly 14 percent of that individual’s level of engagement

Managers need to be more effective at being coaches and motivators. Being an effective coach is about learning the employees’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as motivations. But when a manager feels like they are out on a limb, and they are the go-between between employees and their superiors, checking in with your managers on a one-to-one level provides a number of benefits: 

  • You are able to address the positives. 
  • You can look at the challenges. 
  • Regular check-ins allow the manager to offload any anxieties about their abilities to lead. 
  • It provides the perfect opportunity for them to learn how to be better at being a leader. 

It’s crucial to have these conversations regularly, as it will help you form deeper connections with your managers, which will naturally transfer to the employees, therefore strengthening the bonds throughout the entire organization.

Don’t neglect “soft” skills

Soft skills are overstated, and therefore, a perennially ignored aspect of modern business. According to the 2019 Global Talent Trends research conducted by LinkedIn, 80 percent of companies are struggling to find better soft skills in the market.

Soft skills are not easy to learn; they are complex and are continually evolving. The nature of the pandemic has thrown up a number of communication problems, not least when it comes to Zoom meetings, as employees haven’t been able to pick up on the more subtle nuances that they would otherwise have been able to in person. Businesses are a coalition of human beings working together, and communication skills are vital to helping a company collaborate, and improve itself. 

Re-emphasize personal development

One other misconception is that when employees are in “work mode,” there is nothing else they should focus on. Your employees do not just exist to serve you, they have a number of needs that will need to be addressed. Therefore, professional development demands personal development. This can be broken down into three key areas: 

  • Emotional health. Employees need their basic human desires to be acknowledged and can be unmet in many working environments. Simple questions, such as “are you struggling with anything?” or “how do you feel about your work?” can start that important conversation. 
  • Intellectual development. The concept of education in business doesn’t necessarily mean providing information that exclusively relates to the business. The best businesses are able to develop working and human relationships. It’s important that you provide holistic development in subjects that don’t appear to be related to the company but are still essential for emotional health and intellectual growth. 
  • Physical health. Now, more than ever, people are finding it harder to step away from their desks at the end of the working day. Having the balance and focusing on self-care means that you should encourage and allow them to practice self-care so you are valuing them as a person. 
What Does Successful Employee Development Look Like?

Deploying a professional development structure in the workplace is about the employee. When employees regain a sense of pride or empowerment in their work, this will naturally translate to a reinvigorated business with an engaged and motivated team that is more ready and able to take on the competition.

Get to grips with your organizational development alongside Ezra. We’ve redesigned leadership coaching for the digital age to transform your company’s workforce through affordable, scalable and high-impact solutions that promote equitable access through our world-class coaching app. Find out today how everyone can be better with a coach.

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