Conversations about career goals, professional knowledge and skills development typically make up a small part of an employee’s annual review.
However, learning and development training is a valuable source of employee engagement and retention. LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report uncovered that 94% of employees “would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development.”
The study also found that “employees want self-directed learning opportunities accessible in the flow of work”, a finding that is multigenerational: 43% of Gen Z, 42% of Millennials, 33% of Gen X and 33% of Boomers agree.
Another finding from the LinkedIn study was that “75% of employees would take a course their manager assigned”, suggesting that employees may not be comfortable bringing up professional development opportunities without clear and direct prompting from their manager or supervisor.
By formalizing conversations about short-term and long-term development goals into an employee professional development plan, you’re able to inspire and motivate your workforce as well as actively support their growth and career plans.
Continue reading to learn how you can introduce an employee professional development plan to your organization, including a template you can use as a starting point and more stats related to employee professional development plans—stats which you can use to encourage leadership buy-in.
Career goals are important for employee satisfaction, and employees who are satisfied are likely to stay longer and be top performers.
As reported by leadership development company The Learning Wave, a cornerstone study on work-based learning found that “74% [of employees] felt they [are] not achieving their full potential at work and, as a result, would value access to more development opportunities.”
The study also found that 44% of employees said they wanted training and development opportunities to “feel more valued or become more effective in their current role” and only 23% view "training as an opportunity to up-skill and change jobs.”
This last point is often a fear/concern when trying to introduce employee professional development plans to your organization—namely, the idea that allowing employees to gain additional skills or knowledge means they are more likely to leave your organization once they’ve finished their training.
In fact, a recent Payscale survey found that 2 out of 3 employees cite inadequate training and development as one of their reasons for quitting. And according to a study commissioned by employee development suite Bridge, almost 90% of millennials are “looking to grow their careers within their current companies” and “offering career training and development would keep 86% of millennials from leaving their current position.”
While it’s true that roles without much or any upward movement may see more turnover, the majority of employees who benefit from a professional development plan tend to become loyal employees and generally top performers. They’re also ideal candidates for internal promotions.
Currently, millennials make up most of the workforce; however, the new generation of young professionals (Gen Z) also values career development plans. A recent survey done at the International Intern Leadership Conference found that 80% of Gen Z embrace failure and view it as an opportunity to learn and innovate. In a study by recruitment agency Robert Half, Gen Z cited growth opportunities as their number one priority when job searching—which means that creating an employee development plan is a sound investment, now and in the near future.
A well-crafted employee development plan can address business goals as well as help with succession planning.
We’ve broken down how to create a professional development plan for your employees in a few simple steps. To start, ask each individual employee for their input. You can either do it at your 1:1s or send out pulse surveys to gather more information and insights.
A few questions to ask are:
- Are you interested in learning a new software or bolstering your public speaking skills?
- Would you like to become more creative or better organized?
- How do you see your career progressing at this organization?
Next, take an objective look at each role. Is there any training and development that might improve productivity or output? How do you see the role evolving in the future? What skills or knowledge would someone need to thrive in the role in the next year or so?
Then, assess the needs of your department and the organization as a whole to determine which skills or knowledge would most benefit you and your employees. Detail everything in a list, organizing the information under Company Goals, Department or Team Goals, and Individual Goals.
Search for webinars, online courses, mentors or volunteer opportunities that can help your employees gain the skills or education they (and you) have identified as valuable.
Finally, formalize everything into a working document and schedule monthly or weekly check-ins to see how progress is going.
One final note when it comes to training and development in the workplace? Time.
Employees should learn on the job rather than off-the-clock. Work with each individual employee to prioritize deadlines and take advantage of any downtime to pursue learning and career development opportunities.