7 min read
Nov 21, 2017

The future of employee development planning: think purpose not promotions

How comfortable would you feel spending time and money on employee development planning if you knew these employees would leave your company within a year?

Karen McCandlessAnalyst

How comfortable would you feel spending time and money on employee development planning if you knew these employees would leave your company within a year?

Traditionally, employee development plans have focused on providing training and learning opportunities that improve employees’ skills and performance at that organization.

But the professional world has changed, and as a result, linear career development plans are becoming out of date. What is now needed is a new approach to training and development that is in line with the more a more fluid workforce.

Dangers of poor employee development programs

This isn’t to say that employee development programs are unnecessary. In fact, if you don’t provide enough opportunities for employee growth, they are more than likely to leave.

More than half of workers who don’t feel they have supervisor support for career development intend to seek employment outside the organization within the next year. Less than half of respondents say they are motivated to do their best at work, compared to 88 percent who report having supervisor support.

In addition, if you don’t provide adequate training opportunities, you’re reducing workers’ productivity and quality of work, and increasing the chance of errors.

Almost two thirds of employees feel they could be more effective in their job if their employer offered more training.

Meanwhile, 60 percent state that mistakes result from a lack of training.

There is also a significant disconnect between what development opportunities companies think they are providing, compared to the reality from the employee perspective.

According to a report from Saba Software, 80 percent of HR leaders believe they are delivering training and development that is both accessible and effective. However, one third of employees report that training and development programs are not effective.

Benefits of training and development

On the flip side, the data also supports the benefits of having well-thought-out employee development plans. External hires are 20 percent more likely to leave your company than employees who have been trained and promoted from within your business.

Companies with organized training plans have 218 percent higher income per employee than those that don’t.

The future of employee development planning

While the benefits of employee development planning are clear, what should these plans look like?

Instead of creating development plans that are tailored to the skills and experience needed to get employees linear promotions within an organization, companies should allow individuals to pursue opportunities that align to a purpose, rather than a specific job role.

You might ask the question “what about the ROI?” when providing employees with the time and resources to gain general skills and experience. However, the impact on employee satisfaction and your company’s brand can be significant.

According to Gartner research (available to paid clients): “By looking at individual careers as a series of experiences aligned to a purpose, organizations can be more agile. By enabling individuals to chart their own course and follow opportunities-both within and outside the organization-they can reap the benefits of a great employer brand that supports and encourages growth without the constraints of fixed career paths.”

Source: Gartner

Your employees may eventually seek roles elsewhere, but while they are working for your company, they will be significantly more engaged and motivated. Also bear in mind the reviews your company might get on Glassdoor as a result of the kind of career planning you offer.

Gartner recommends that “CIOs and HR leaders to encourage people to achieve professional objectives through purpose-focused directional maps. Analogous to regional maps that encourage travelers to take dozens of roads, the professional directional maps plot out highways, stops, shortcuts, serendipitous detours, side trips and rest areas.”

What should these plans look like?

If you’re wondering how to put employee development plans together to deliver these objectives, then Gartner’s advice is:

  • Make sure that employees can receive coaching and mentoring from peers and other workers, inside and outside the organization-this will help them identify what kind of job opportunities they ultimately want to pursue.

  • Help employees discover their personal values and purpose and provide opportunities to learn and grow in this areas, offering coaching and mentoring in so-called "soft skills."

In fact, a study from Harvard Business Review of young managers found that nearly 95 percent regularly engage in job seeking activities such as updating résumés and seeking information on prospective employers.

The report noted that: “Workers reported that companies generally satisfy their needs for on-the-job development and that they value these opportunities, which include high-visibility positions and significant increases in responsibility. But they’re not getting much in the way of formal development, such as training, mentoring, and coaching-things they also value highly.”

This is further evidence for the need for more diverse employee development planning that spans a wider range of skills and experience.

Next steps

If you want to create training plans and provide learning opportunities that will make your employees more engaged and boost your employee brand, here are some software options that can help:

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