Why you should create employee development plans

Before looking at how to make an employee development plan, the first consideration is why you’d want to plan and manage your employees’ development. There are several reasons for this, among the most obvious and immediate of which is that more skilled employees will be more effective, boosting your business’s performance. The better they can do their jobs, the better off your company will be.

Beyond that, nurturing existing talent in your business can be an investment that saves you money and time down the line. If you are able to promote from within, filling vacancies with employees that already know the business and are ready to take the step up, you can save yourself the expense and hassle of hiring new employees for the upper echelons of the company.

Providing opportunities for development and advancement will also motivate employees, keeping them engaged and even keeping them at your business when they might otherwise have left. A recent survey found that most of the factors contributing to employee engagement at which employers scored lowest related to training and development. Keeping employees happy in their roles, and therefore sticking with your company, will save you the cost of having to replace them, which averages around £30,000 mostly due to lower productivity from new hires as they get up to speed.

Naturally, employees are happier when they have clear career and development goals in mind. Planning this development process, rather than merely ‘allowing’ employees to ‘grow’ organically, can improve results, motivation, and accountability.

What makes an effective employee development plan?

Having established that developing employees is worthwhile, how do managers create a plan that delivers results for the employees under their guidance as well as the wider business? There are some key steps to make the process of building a development plan successful.

Consider business objectives

It’s important to keep in mind that the end results of any plan should benefit both your employee AND your business, so evaluate what your needs are both now and in the future. If you’re planning to bring in a new team, you’ll need more leaders to head up that area. If your product is due an update, perhaps it’s technical and design roles that will be most necessary.

The career trajectories of other employees will factor in here too. Do you have an experienced manager stepping down soon, or a brilliant young student leaving to travel or study? Identify the role and skill gaps you may need to fill in the near and possibly also distant future.

Talk to your employees

Having determined what the business needs, you then need to find out what your employees’ plans are. Find a time to talk one-on-one and ask them about both their current role and their future ambitions. Cover things they enjoy and aspects they struggle with, as well as what they’d like to do. Consider how their aims align with those of the business. Some employees may want to rise as quickly as possible, but others may be happy with the status quo. You shouldn’t assume everyone wants to be promoted.

Set SMART goals

Your evaluation of the needs of both business and individual should hopefully produce an overlap of skills. Use these to create goals that will improve employees’ skill-sets and deliver value for the company. Use SMART principles to ensure goals are effective by making them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. This produces targets that employees understand, can track their progress towards, aren’t impossible, relate to the intended skills, and have a set timeframe for completion.

Work together to create an action plan

Having decided what employees are looking to achieve, consider how they will do so. While they need to take ownership of their development, consider what support the business can provide. Is there preparation to be completed or will they need cover while they complete training or try new roles? Strike a balance that delivers the best results for them while minimising disruption to everyday operations.

We hope you can use these tips to create employee development plans that improve your business in the short and long-term, leaving you with skilled and engaged employees!

About the author

Jake Waller is a wordsmith who plies his trade here at Findmyshift. He uses his background in engineering to simplify complex topics for a variety of tech firms. When not writing for Findmyshift he blogs under a pseudonym at My Name is Skylance and has a passion for creative writing and editing, about which he's always talking on Twitter.