What is an Employee Development Program? [2021 Rundown]

Alex
October 6, 2021
9 Min Read
Photo by
Frederico Jesus for Significa

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Who doesn't want their company to grow? It seems like the ultimate goal of every business is to be successful and continue growing. But what many people don't realize is that there are ways in which you can make your company grow without getting new clients or customers. One way to do this is through employee development programs. These programs help employees reach their full potential, which will, in turn, lead them to become more productive members of the team. For these reasons and more, an employee development program should be something that all companies strive for. In this post, we've outlined everything you need to know about them.

What is an employee development program?

An employee development program, or EPD for short, is a training program that helps your employees improve their skills and abilities, which can then help them achieve greater success. However, it's different than an employee development plan (EDP). An employee development program is offered to all employees, while an employee development plan is only for certain employees who need development in a specific area. 

Why an employee development program matters 

The importance of employee development can’t be stressed enough — and as mentioned previously, employee development programs can help your business grow. That's because the more productive employees are, the better they'll be at their jobs. That means you're essentially getting double benefits from EPDs. Firstly, it helps workers be more successful while also helping your company to succeed. Secondly, by offering an EPD, you tell your employees that you care about their success and want to see them succeed in the company. This endeavor can help small businesses recruit top talent, which is always a challenge for companies who don't have tons of money to work with.

Benefits of an employee development program

There are many benefits to offering programs that encourage employee development. These include increased morale, reduced turnover rates, and more engaged employees who don't feel like they're not getting the guidance or skills necessary to succeed in their role. Another benefit is that companies can attract top talent with well-developed programs because it shows that their company values employee career development and is invested in the long-term success of every worker.

There are many other benefits to offering an EPD. Some of the most prominent ones include:

  • Enhancing skills and abilities. Employees who go through employee development training will enjoy learning new things to help them be better at their jobs. They'll also become more skilled, making it easier for you as an employer because you won't have to worry about training new people.
  • Increased satisfaction. It's no secret that when employees are satisfied with their jobs, they're going to be more productive. That means you'll get a lot more done in less time. 
  • Improved productivity. When your team members have the skills and abilities necessary for their roles, it will be easier to succeed. And when they're successful, that means you'll be more successful as a result.
  • Lower training costs. One of the main reasons companies don't offer an EPD is that they feel like it will cost too much money. However, this isn't always true because research has shown that employers actually save more than what they spend on EPDs, which means it's more beneficial than not offering one.

Pros and cons of employee development programs

While there are many benefits to offering an EPD for your business and employees, some companies may hesitate because they think the cons outweigh the pros. Here are some of the pros and cons to EPDs:

Pros 

  • Increases skills. Employees will learn new things that can help them be more successful at their jobs. This benefit will allow employees to grow as professionals. In addition, they'll become happier with their work because it makes them feel challenged, which is a good thing for employees and employers alike.
  • Increases job satisfaction. A lot of employees become bored with their work after a while, which can lead to them quitting or becoming less productive because it's not challenging for them anymore. However, by offering an EPD, you'll be able to keep your team members satisfied with what they're doing because it will challenge them to meet their employee development goals.
  • Boosts morale. By offering an EPD, you'll be able to create camaraderie within the team because it's something that everyone will go through together. This benefit is another thing that makes employees want to stick around at their jobs longer.

Cons

  • Potentially more costs. Though you may save money in the long run by offering an EPD, there are some upfront costs that your company will have to pay when implementing one. These can include training materials and even instructor/lecturer fees, depending on what kind of program you want to offer. This is one of the main reasons why companies don't offer an EPD.
  • Employers need to change their mindset. There are some employers out there who think that offering an EPD is going to cost too much money or take up too much time. However, this is where they're often wrong because research and statistics show otherwise, and you'll actually save money and time in the long run. This reason is why it's crucial for employers to change their mindset about EPDs.
  • Employees may feel as if they're being taught. Since employees will be learning new things, some might think that you'll be teaching them instead of giving them real-world experience like a lot of employers want. In addition, some employees may not feel motivated to learn new skills, which can lead them to be less productive 

The main takeaway here is that although there are cons to offering an EPD for your business and team members, they're outweighed by the pros. Not only will you be able to save money over time because of benefits like increased productivity levels, but you'll also be able to create camaraderie within your team.

What an employee development program consists of

An EPD often involves both training and areas of development for employees. Training refers to the actual education that employees receive, while development is a more general term referring to activities such as giving feedback or coaching. Feedback can help an employee improve their performance by letting them know what they're doing wrong so that they don't continue making those mistakes in the future. Coaching is generally provided by someone who is more experienced and has a higher position within the company. It allows them to mentor employees, share knowledge, and provide guidance on meeting their goals.

All businesses can benefit from an EPD

EPDs can be used by companies of all sizes and in a variety of situations. In fact, even small businesses with just one or two employees can benefit from one since they allow the company to grow. Remote teams also use them in order to provide employee training and development for their employees, even if they work from different locations. 

Remote teams and employee development programs

The number of people who telecommute has increased by 115% since 2005, which means that more companies are hiring remote workers than ever before. Therefore, employers must take steps to make sure their work from home employees feel valued and involved in the company. This includes providing them with an EPD that they can use while working anywhere. 

Remote teams can use employee development programs in a number of ways, depending on their business. For example, if someone works from home or a different location each day and is expected to complete tasks there, it's helpful for them to have the skills required to do so successfully. 

On the other hand, remote companies don't always have access to all of the training and development opportunities that in-office businesses do. This means they have to be creative when providing these opportunities for their employees, which is where EPDs can come into play.

Employee development program statistics

According to a PwC survey, nearly 65% of workers are looking for a new job, and those numbers are likely to increase. This trend puts a strain on an organization and places its future in jeopardy. However, this is something that companies are trying to change by offering EPDs.

Here are a few more statistics that warrant attention and demonstrate the importance of proper job training through an employee development program:

  • Almost 59% of workers say they never received formal development or training where they work. Any skills they said they gained were self-taught.
  • Employee turnover is twice as likely to happen at organizations with lackluster onboarding processes.
  • 70% of workers said they are somewhat motivated to jump ship and work for a company that invests in employee learning and development.
  • 34% of people who left their previous job said they did it because their new one offered better chances for career development.

Employee development program softwares

Around 86% of end-users will apply what they learn in six weeks or fewer, according to Skillsoft. Therefore, every organization that wants to be successful should take time to evaluate their employee training needs, find a solution that works, and implement employee training strategies from start to finish that aid in employee retention. This includes offering employees employee development program software as part of a Learning Management Systems (LMS). 

Here is a snapshot of some of the leading LMS software you can select for your industry’s EPD:

  1. 360training: Empowers learning and development teams and has the most variety for different industries. The software also drives employee growth, culture and career development through collaborative learning efforts.
  2. iSpring: An LMS solution + authoring tool, iSpring is considered to be the best for retail. It's also ridiculously user-friendly, especially if you know how to use PowerPoint. iSpring does an excellent job of providing tutorials to first-time users, and the tools are directly within the software.
  3. Absorb LMS: Serving companies in over 100 industry verticals, Absorb LMS is emerging as an EPD favorite. It helps you surpass learning goals by offering flexible training in an engaging learning environment.
  4. ExpertRating: This LMS option makes it easier for personnel to get certified online in an area of expertise. It can integrate around 800 skill tests into your company’s website.
  5. Matter: Don’t forget that praising employee achievements goes a long way toward employee development. Matter is now positioning as a free Slack app, where you can celebrate wins publicly. Matter is fully integrated with Slack and helps build a feedback culture.
  6. Simplilearn: Best overall for personnel training and achieving career goals is Simplilearn. Users can choose between in-person classroom instruction, live online learning with instructors and self-study. 
  7. TalentLMS: If you have a small company, this LMS provider offers a free plan for companies who use fewer than five seats and fewer than ten courses in their library. It’s also scalable, offering budget-friendly plans that will expand web-based training as your business grows.
  8. Skillsoft: Covers everything LMS-related to help your business improve by offering professional development to your employees. Since it has more than 7,000 courses, 65,000 videos and 46,000 book offerings, this user-friendly LMS ensures trainees will never run out of things to learn.
  9. Degreed: An excellent upskilling LMS, Degreed is tailor-made for enterprise learning. It has a point system that is based on the resource’s difficulty, duration, quality and modality. For instance, a 200-page e-book is worth more than a one-page article. This type of training method and learning benchmarks and reports on your personnel’s growth and productivity.

Leveraging your employee development plan software 

Strong and efficient employee development programs take advantage of technology such as EPD software to increase employee's skills, knowledge and more. In addition, the software should provide them with user-friendly training that is relevant to their field. 

For instance, retail, which often has seasonal employment and high employee turnover rates compared to other industries, can benefit from easy-to-use, functional, customizable software such as iSpring Learn. The software is a complete LMS solution that builds and delivers online learning programs to trainees.

Employee development program strategies

Companies can get the most out of their EPDs by tailoring them to what works for employees and the company. For example, if someone is struggling with particular skills or tasks, it may be beneficial to have a different method that provides opportunities for practicing these skills during work hours.

Employee development programs should also include lunch-and-learn sessions, where employees have the chance to learn about new technologies, research best practices for a project they're working on, etc.

In addition, organizations should provide formal training courses through EPDs that cover topics such as leadership or communication skills to help their staff develop soft skills that are just as important as technical ones.

Employee development program tips

To help ensure that their EPDs are successful, organizations should consider the following helpful tips:

  • Make training personal. Use personalized learning paths for each employee to create a more engaging and relevant experience.
  • Create opportunities for employees to share their learnings with one another through collaboration tools such as whiteboard sessions or discussion forums.
  • Use gamification (point scoring, game rules, competition with colleagues, etc.) to make learning more fun and engaging for employees while promoting teamwork, collaboration, and social interaction.
  • Offer rewards or recognition programs that incentivize the development of key skills to not only retain top performers but also to help other staff members improve their performance.
  • Keep training sessions short by using bite-sized learning that is both fast and effective.
  • Make it interactive with multimedia content, quizzes, exercises, etc. These tools help keep learners engaged while also measuring their progress towards achieving the goal of this training session or program.

Key takeaways

Turnover is costly, and most businesses can’t afford to lose their top-performing employees. And as you can see, the value of an employee development program can't be emphasized enough: They can help organizations and employees develop their workforce, increase employee engagement and retention rates, improve productivity and more. 

If there is anything we missed or you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below! Also, if you liked this article and want to learn more about employee development be sure to check out our articles about <> on our blog.

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