What is Employee Development? 10 Key Strategies for Developing Employees

Do you want to know what employee development is and why it is important? You’ve come to the right place.

To succeed in any industry, companies need to keep innovating and evolving to remain competitive. This also applies to the employees. For employees to remain relevant, they need to constantly improve their skills.

Prioritizing employee development in your company culture will help your team to be well informed on the latest trends and best practices in your industry. It will also help them acquire new skills.

In addition to these, employee development will also improve your employees’ engagement.

In this article, I will explain what employee development is, why you need to consider it, and the different strategies you can use to develop your employees.

What is Employee Development?

Employee development aims to portray the people in your company as valuable assets and important in the productivity of the organization.

Each employee in an organization contributes to the good and bad of the organization. Thus, employee development must include the interests of the employee and the employer.

In a nutshell, employee development refers to the support that the employer gives to employees. This support comes in the form of different training programs aimed at enhancing skills and acquiring new knowledge.

Your employees must be well-equipped to tackle the worst situations in their roles.

Improving employees’ education plays a crucial role in helping them to remain current and relevant.

Employee development nurtures and encourages employees to become valuable resources that will benefit themselves and their companies.

Why is Employee Development Important?

Highlighted below are some of the reasons why employee development is important:

1. It Tackles Weaknesses

If you evaluate your workforce regularly, you are likely to find some employees that do not have some skills. There are training programs that you can use to help those employees develop the required skills.

An employee development program is important to help employees develop their knowledge base.

This allows you to strengthen the weak links in your company. Doing so will help each of the employees to be able to fill in for their colleagues and efficiently execute any task.

2. It improves employees’ performance

An employee that is regularly trained will be in a better position to improve his or her productivity. Through training programs, employees will become adept at different safety practices and the right procedures to adhere to while executing basic tasks.

Also, a training program helps employees to become confident since they will have a better understanding of their responsibilities.

3. It Improves the Reputation of the Organization

Employee development does not help the employees alone; it also helps the company.

Carrying out training and development programs frequently will develop the company’s brand; thereby making it a top consideration for graduates and skilled employees looking for new employers.

A company that focuses on training its employees will be the dream potential new employees since that company will help them advance their skills.

4. It Makes Employees Innovative

When employees are trained consistently, they will become more creative. The employee development programs will help your employees to be more innovative and independent while tackling challenges in their roles.

How Can You Improve Employee Development at Your Company?

The top employee development strategies that you can implement in your company include the following:

1. Training

Employee training involves developing your employees’ skills via a series of lectures, exercises, podcasts, videos, simulations, and individual or group-based assignments.

This employee development strategy includes both formal (such as instructor-led, classroom-based, or e-learning courses) and informal (such as watching educational videos on YouTube or reviewing educational posts on LinkedIn) methods.

Each training option will depend on the needs of the organization, and the subject on the ground. For instance, a hands-on or instructor-led training method may be the ideal option for teaching detailed processes like a complex manufacturing process.

Complex tasks like these cannot be learned through YouTube videos; a method that can work for subjects like IT support or building codes.

Employees need to be constantly trained (either sponsored by the company or paid for by the employees) at every stage of their career to develop the skills they believe will be necessary to excel in their roles.

More so, organizations must always support the development of employee skills for future responsibilities that the company plans to hand over to employees.

2. Job Rotations

This is another employee development strategy that employees can use. In this case, employees can rotate roles with their colleagues to practice new skills.

Job sharing can also be encouraged for employees that are interested in getting practical experience that will help them develop more skills.

The goal of this employee development tactic is to rotate tasks to learn new things and also have a chance to put what was learned into practice.

3. Coaching

The importance of helping employees develop their skills through coaching cannot be overemphasized in terms of employee development.

This form of employee development involves senior staff working with less experienced members of staff.

This can increase the rate at which an employee understands different topics.

However, it is important to note that this strategy is time-consuming and can also lead to a clone-like form of knowledge of the subject learned (unlike learning one’s way or from different mentors and coworkers).

4. Mentorship

Mentorship is an employee development strategy that involves the senior management working with the junior staff to develop skills that the junior staff does not have.

More formal mentoring programs are usually used for leadership roles while less formal programs are used for junior management.

Just as we have for coaching, this process can be time-consuming. So be mindful of the amount of time invested into this and the one-on-one teaching style (to prevent the transfer of a clone-like knowledge).

5. Workshops and Committees

These methods allow employees to interact with their colleagues within and outside their organizations. This method is beneficial because it gives access to similar and dissimilar colleagues.

This wide access to knowledge can help in gaining new insights, troubleshooting, and learning about best practices.

This employee development method is ideal for developing communication skills and teamwork spirit. The knowledge gained here can also be applied to other areas.

6. Simulations

Simulations are becoming popular as a result of how effective and engaging they are. The simulation could be playing the role of a customer service interaction, for instance, learning how to calm a confrontational client or mock first aid scenes.

The highest level of simulation can involve virtual worlds such as flight training or fire rescue where employees learn skills that are needed in non-consequential settings.

This method is useful in imbibing conceptual knowledge and applying such knowledge to the real world. It gives the employee the know-how, exposure, and confidence in tackling such tasks.

7. Conferences

Just like workshops and committees, workshops play a key role in networking and gaining exposure to different forms of knowledge.

Different sessions are available at conferences to train on relevant topics. This is usually done by picking and choosing a style that will interest a particular group within an organization.

8. On-the-Job Training

Employees that have attended basic training on technical skills (for instance, learning new methods of analyzing finances or how to operate a new machine) usually find on-the-job training a good way to improve those skills.

On-the-job training simply entails learning by doing something; this is usually done after training.

The main goal of this employee development strategy is to equip the employee with everything that is needed for self-study at work. Employees learn how they can apply the methods taught as they complete the tasks assigned to them.

This method is popularly used to develop employees since companies don’t have the time to train each of the employees on every skill especially if the skill does not need advanced knowledge.

9. Self-Study

Self-study can be accomplished via a range of methods such as reading and taking classes. The subject being learned does not have to relate to the skills that the organization needs, but something new that can improve the employee’s performance.

Although the time spent on self-study is not directly compensated, the company needs to compensate an employee if the employee bought a course that will enhance his or her performance.

The benefit of self-study is that the employee can decide what interests him or her, and go after it independently. However, it is not easy to motivate employees to invest their off-work time in work-related activities.

10. Career Planning

Although this employee development method is often seen as an employer-driven method (where the HR decides the employee that should be in a particular role), it should not be so.

Employees can also be allowed to suggest alternative career paths for themselves, to their managers, and kick-start career planning discussions.

Depending on business goals reviews and the assessment of an organizational workforce, employers can pinpoint existing skills that should be improved in the organization, or new skills that the workforce needs to acquire.

By discussing with management, each of the employees should be able to analyze their strengths and weaknesses, and volunteer to fill some of those roles.

In consultation with HR, individual career plans can then be designed with certain skills development goals for each role.

How Does Employee Development Improve the Culture of a Company?

Allowing employees to become proficient and develop practical work-related skills shows that an employer values his employees. Employees that feel that their employers value them are more likely to achieve their potential and actualize organizational goals.

This positive employee-employer relationship will go a long way in promoting career fulfillment and robust, vibrant company culture.

What Do Employees Want?

The employee development of a company is one of the components of the company’s reward program. Achieving a great career today is not limited to moving up (in terms of a promotion).

Most companies are working towards creating different managerial structures and getting rid of the middle manager role, thereby leading to fewer opportunities to get a promotion within an organization.

Employees seeking more efficient skills, reward-oriented millennials, top talents, and employees interested in a new career path are those looking for other opportunities.


What do you mean by employee development?

Employee development refers to a process where an employee (coupled with the support of his or her employee) undergoes different training programs to develop his or her skills and get new learnings and knowledge.

Employee development activities help employees to work and deliver quality work.

What is an example of employee development?

Employee development activities can fall into continuing education, researched-related activities, membership, and participation in professional activities, courses, and initiatives to increase essential skills and on-the-job training.

Why is employee development important?

Employee development can help your team develop the skills they need to enhance their work, get better results, and improve the company’s bottom line. A well-trained workforce increases the output of a company.


The employment development strategies discussed in this article can be implemented in any company, irrespective of its. The strategies will also work efficiently in enhancing the future leadership of a company.

Whether your organization chooses to leverage all or a few of the strategies discussed in this article, it is advisable to use each of them consistently. You should also communicate them clearly to your employees so that they can know their values.

Employee development is vital to the growth of both employees and their organizations; hence, it should not be overlooked.

Developing your employees is all about helping them gain the skills they need to excel in their roles. Here are some skills that employees can learn to add value to themselves.

Thanks for reading.