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8 Steps to Create an Actionable Employee Development Plan [with Templates & Examples]

By Jennifer Gaskin, Jul 08, 2021

Employee Development Plan

Having a tough time keeping talented people on staff? Maybe you’ve considered giving them a raise or boosting their time off. While both are reasonable strategies, one of the best ways to engage workers is actually to invest in their development. And employee development plans are crucial tools to do just that.

More than 90% of workers say they would be more likely to stick with their current employer if the organization was invested in helping them learn and develop new skill sets, according to a LinkedIn survey.

For companies without mature training programs, creating simple but effective employee development plans does not have to come with a major investment of time or money. In fact, with Venngage for Training and Development, you can create an actionable employee development plan with just a few clicks.


 

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What is an employee development plan?

An employee development plan describes the process needed to help an individual achieve their professional goals. It covers a professional’s career goals, the steps necessary to achieve those goals and the timeframe by which each goal should be met, usually including both short-term and long-term targets.

Employee development plans are helpful not only for workers but for organizations as well, and there are many benefits for organizations to develop these strategies, both company-wide and for individual team members.

Benefits of employee development plans

Organizations that invest in employee development have the potential of realizing many benefits, the least of which is potentially improving the company’s bottom line. Here’s a look at the biggest benefits of employee development plans.

  1. Limiting turnover

We already referenced this survey, but it bears repeating here—94% of people said they’d stick with a job if the company helped them learn new skills and develop as a professional.

  1. Skill building

Employee development plans are often focused on adding tools to a team member’s skill set, and in doing so, the company itself benefits from their newfound skills. A 2021 LinkedIn survey found that 59% of corporate learning and development programs were focused on upskilling and reskilling.

  1. Boosting engagement

Workers who feel they’re going nowhere in your organization are likely to find somewhere else to go. Engaging team members through training and development programs helps ensure the new role they find is within your organization.

  1. Improving company outlook

For organizations that are looking to expand into new products or services, building the skills of existing employees is often the best way to achieve their goals.

In this way, they end up with team members who not only have the new skills they need but have the past institutional knowledge that makes them more efficient.

Looking to create employee development programs and boost retention by as much as 80%? Venngage for Training and Development teams can help with that.

Simply create a free account and start designing infographics, presentations, and microlearning assets to build a strong employee training and development program.

Here’s an example of a flyer outlining the benefits of using Venngage for your company’s learning and development program, but you can customize it for your own training program proposal:

employee development plan


 

Employee development methods

In most employee development plans, multiple methods will be used to achieve the desired outcome. Some goals are easier to achieve, while others will take more time, so organizations need to be agile enough to provide the tools employees need to build the necessary skills.

That includes but isn’t limited to the following:

  • Coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Cross-training
  • Job shadowing
  • Job rotation
  • Assessment centers
  • Online employee development

Nearly 60% of learning and development professionals expect their companies to spend more on online learning, according to LinkedIn. Make the most of your company’s investment by creating a robust e-learning course.

employee development plan


 

Related:

Examples of development areas

Employee development plans should focus on what team members want to achieve and how they can go about doing that. The process involves identifying their existing skills to see what they lack or where they could improve.

Some employee development plans will focus on broad, soft skills like:

  • Organization
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Time management
  • Listening
  • Collaboration
  • Conflict resolution
  • Adaptability
  • Change management

Other employee development plans will focus on hard skills that are directly related to specific job tasks. That could include mastery of specific computer programs or broad digital fluency.

Examples of personal growth

While employee development plans are focused on making team members better workers, in some cases, they also grow as individuals through the process.

In fact, according to LinkedIn, about 73% of professionals want to learn about topics they’re personally interested in when taking part in workplace development programs.

employee development plan


 

Indeed, as this infographic illustrates, investing in people means also investing in their personal growth. Many of the soft skills listed above are as useful outside the workplace as inside, if not more.

For example, a workplace development plan focused on building skills for conflict resolution could pay dividends not only in relationships with coworkers but with family members.

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Types of employee development plans

Employee development plans generally come in two varieties, one focused on the employee and one focused on the organization, though both involve helping team members build needed skills.

Individual development plan

An individual development plan is an employee development plan specifically focused on creating a strategy for helping a professional achieve their career goals.

employee development plan


 

The above worksheet is a good example of an individual development plan that allows a team member and their manager to determine skills and tools the worker lacks as well as the goals they hope to achieve.

Succession planning

Succession planning is a method of employee development that focuses more on filling internal needs and ensuring that talented workers have the skills they need to step into new roles within the company.

employee development plan


 

This leadership readiness checklist is an excellent example of succession planning in employee development. A checklist like this can help an organization identify candidates for leadership roles and determine what skills they would need to adequately do those jobs.

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8 steps to creating an actionable employee development plan

Organizations that lack established training and development programs likely don’t have much experience in creating actionable employee development plans. But the process is easier than it might seem at first glance if you follow some simple steps.

1. Establish executive support

As with any new major initiative, having support from leadership is crucial. Programs often sputter out because there’s no managerial-level sponsor or champion. In some cases, the company will need to invest in training, and this requires sign-off from executives and other leaders.

2. Determine organizational goals

At their core, employee development plans are focused on company goals, though the individual professional is the conduit for those goals. Still, understanding what the organization wants from employee development plans is important.

Organizational goals could be improving employee retention, succession planning, upskilling or reskilling—the options are limitless. And organizational goals for individual workers will likely vary from person to person.

3. Examine skill gaps

With your organizational goal and the team member in mind, what skills necessary for achieving the goal does the worker lack? Do all workers lack these skills? Identify all the skills needed and determine what gaps exist across the organization.

Here’s an example of a matrix describing the skills needed for different marketing roles. Customize this template to help your employees examine their skill gaps or look for what they’re interested in learning more.

employee development plan


 

4. Identify employee goals

Meet with employees, whether every person on your team or just those individuals you’ve identified as critical for reaching organizational goals. Ask them what they want to achieve in your organization, what skills they would want to develop and what their long-term and short-term goals are for their careers.

Consider creating a worksheet or checklist like this one to help ensure employees are aware of what’s expected of them in this process.

employee development plan


 

5. Identify areas of employee and organizational goal overlap

With those two sets of goals in mind, determine areas where organizational goals overlap employee goals or where they overlap if certain skills could be developed.

Consider employees’ potential and personality traits, and remember that training and development program should focus on building hard skills and soft skills.

6. Determine ideal development plan method

Working with the employee, identify the skills they need to develop and figure out what methods are best to help them do so. Many employee development plans include several types of skills, so multiple methods may be necessary.

It’s also important to consider the impact on the person’s existing job and the rest of the team. Will they need to take time off work to build these skills? Do you expect them to do this in their free time?

This infographic describes the process that HR teams can use to help employees break bad habits. An employee development plan won’t likely focus on just reducing bad habits unless the habit is seriously impacting the employee’s individual and team performance.

employee development plan


 

7. Monitor progress toward employee goals and organizational goals

Set a series of milestones employees should achieve on the path toward meeting their goals and building their new skills. Check in with them regularly to ensure they have the support they need and that they remain engaged and interested in the learning they’re doing.

8. Refine development strategies based on results

Constantly work to refine your strategies. What works for one person may not work for another, but chances are good that if one particular development method or technique was successful in building a new skill for one person, it will work for another.

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6 employee development plan templates

Ready to get started building materials to support your employee development plans? Here are some templates you should check out first:

employee development plan


 

Customize this process with the steps you’ve developed to make sure your team members are fully briefed on what their responsibilities will be as they work through the employee development process.

employee development plan


 

This individual development plan can be easily customized for your organization’s needs. It’s especially useful for organizations with new or nonexistent training and development programs, as it includes examples to help inspire workers and managers.

employee development plan


 

If you’re considering a young or inexperienced team member for leadership positions, have them complete this self-assessment. Customize it to add tasks or competencies specific to the job for which you’re considering them.

employee development plan


 

Monitoring progress during any process is important, but professionals taking part in employee development are especially interested in knowing they’re on the right track. Modify this performance matrix every few weeks to keep them up to date.

employee development plan


 

Though this infographic is focused on a career change, which you may not want to encourage, you can easily customize it to add the steps involved in the development plan you and your employee created together.

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In summary: Employee development plans prove to your workers that you are invested in their future

No employee wants to feel like a cog in a machine, and companies that treat their workers as expendable likely won’t have those workers on the payroll for long. Show your employees that you are invested in their future by creating employee development plans.

Start by registering for a free Venngage account. Customize our recommended templates and see for yourself how easy it is to design a professional employee development plan, even if you don’t have the necessary design skills.

You can always upgrade to a Business plan to enjoy Business exclusive features, such as one-click branding and real-time team collaboration—which is really helpful if you want to work on the development plan with your employees at the same time.


 

 

 

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About Jennifer Gaskin

A veteran of newsrooms and agencies, Jennifer Gaskin is a writer, editor and designer who is the only living person not to have strong feelings on the Oxford comma. She's an award-winning practitioner of journalism and information design who spent the better part of a decade as the creative director of a digital marketing shop. As a writer, Jennifer contributes to a variety of publications while working with clients as well as taking on her own projects.

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