Human Resources

How To Grow Your Business Through Employee Development

8 min read
Sep 30, 2021

Your employees aren’t going to be with your company forever. Focus on their employee development while they are with you to ensure mutual growth.

Andrew ConradSr Content Writer

As a small business leader, preparing your employees for the job that they might find after they leave your company probably falls low on your list of priorities. And after the last two years, operating efficiently and staying afloat have likely occupied the bulk of your time and limited resources.

However, if you want to grow your business, you need to help your employees develop, and not just within the confines of what they can offer your organization. After all, the days of employees starting with a company after college and staying there until they receive a gold watch at their retirement party are all but over, with the average U.S. worker staying with an employer for just four years

Knowing this, it’s fair to ask what kinds of employees do you want for your company? 

  1. An employee who does similar tasks day after day, performing at a satisfactory level in order to earn their paycheck until they can find a job that is more exciting and offers better career development opportunities, or....

  2. An employee who feels excited and passionate about their work and is constantly learning new skills that they can apply to their current and future roles.

The answer may seem obvious, but if you are neglecting employee development at your company, you are driving passionate employees away and fostering disengaged employees who will eventually leave your company in search of better opportunities.

Additional resources

If you’re unsure about the level of employee engagement at your business, you should incorporate employee engagement surveys. Find out more here.

In fact, according to our recent HR survey, 30% of the U.S. workers we surveyed said that learning and development opportunities were one of the most important factors when considering a job after COVID-19.

What are the most important factors when considering a job after COVID-19?

In this article we’ll look at how you can make an organizational commitment to employee growth while reaping the benefits of increased employee engagement.

How to Grow Your Business Through Employee Development

Follow these steps to create an employee development plan that boosts engagement and effectiveness.

How to use individual development plans to boost employee development

Step #1: Use IDPs (individual development plans) to set goals

Rather than letting management decide how to develop employees, why not let your employees tell you what motivates them and determine how they want to grow?

This approach boosts engagement because your employees are taking an active role in their goal setting and mapping their career path.

If you’re not familiar with IDPs, here’s how they work:

  • Employees evaluate their career development by deciding what career opportunities they are excited about and want to pursue. This could range from upskilling to cross-departmental learning. 

  • Managers help employees determine which professional skills they need to develop to prepare for these opportunities. These could include soft or technical skills, such as people management or learning how to use software.

  • Managers and employees outline an employee development plan for growing those identified skills. This could involve professional development such as, taking an online course, joining a workshop, or attending a conference.

  • Managers help employees set specific goals with timelines. For example, “mentor a new employee through their first month” or “earn a CRM software certification by the end of Q2.”

Step #2: Invest in a learning management system (LMS)

When you’re trying to run your business, adding employee career development on top of everything you’re already doing can seem daunting if not impossible. Luckily there is software that can take a lot of the heavy lift off of your shoulders.

A learning management system, or LMS, manages and automates employee training and education with features like an online course library, quizzes and assessments, course completion tracking, and more.

For example, if a member of your sales team aspires to get into management and wants to earn a sales leadership certificate. Your LMS can help that employee prepare to earn the certification through online courses and practice quizzes. This training will help them become a more effective team member while also enriching their career development.

The Pathways dashboard in Looop LMS, one of GetApp’s Category Leaders for LMS

The Pathways dashboard in Looop LMS, one of GetApp’s Category Leaders for LMS (Source)

Check out our Learning Management System Buyers Guide to learn more about LMS software, from benefits and typical features to average costs.

Step #3: Set up a mentoring program

Mentorship programs aren’t a one-way street where the mentee is the only one benefitting. The mentor also thrives from increased engagement and leadership experience. In fact, you should consider reverse mentoring, where less experienced employees share their ideas and fresh experience with more tenured management.

But most importantly, mentoring programs help your employees develop important professional skills around networking, leadership, teamwork, and more.

Here are a few tips to build your mentoring program on a solid foundation:

  • Encourage interested mentors and mentees to fill out a survey that lists their interests and experience. This boosts engagement with the mentoring program and makes it easier to set up matches. 

  • Pair mentors and mentees based on interests and skills, rather than on surface-level similarities, like alma maters. For example, you could pair one employee who is interested in social media with a mentor who counts that as a strength.

  • Ensure that your mentors are scheduling regular check-ins with their mentees. In an increasingly remote work environment, it’s not enough to hope that a mentee will boost their employee growth just by following around their mentor.

Step #4: Include external training in your employee growth plan

To avoid having your employee development plan become too insular, it’s important to include external development opportunities whenever possible. Depending on the size of your organization, this can include programs like tuition reimbursement and conference travel. 

But if your business is working with a smaller budget, consider options like guest speakers, local networking events and seminars, professional organizations, or even a book club. External training is important because it ensures that your employees are benefitting from professional development from the world outside of your organization.

For example, say that your HR team has been handling employee policy document management the same way for the past two decades because that’s the way it’s always been. But then one of your employees attends an HR conference and learns about a new digital approach to document management that saves everyone time and makes your team more efficient. This is a good example of how your employee development program can improve your business while boosting an individual’s career outlook at the same time.

Invest in employee development with employee engagement software

Focusing on employee development may seem like a lot, but it’s crucial for building employee engagement and employee retention, and setting your employees up for success in the short term and the long term. 

Employee engagement software can help you make this process more efficient, with features like 360 degree feedback, benchmarking, gamification, goal tracking, knowledge base management, and lots more.

Browse our Category Leaders for employee engagement software here for 10 top options based on verified user reviews.

GetApp’s Category Leaders for Employee Engagement

GetApp’s Category Leaders for Employee Engagement (Source)

Methodology

GetApp conducted the Global HR Survey (HR in the New Era) in January 2021 of 922 U.S. workers to learn more about their experience and preferences at work. Respondents were screened for employment status and business size.

Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.

About the author

Andrew Conrad

Sr Content Writer

Hey there, I’m Andrew. I’m a Senior Content Writer at GetApp. I bring you insights about retail, eCommerce, and marketing. I studied at Loyola University Maryland and have more than a decade of professional writing experience. Home base: Austin. 2 things about me: I am a lifetime Baltimore Orioles fan, and I love walks in the woods. The tech trend I think you should keep an eye on: Mixed reality in retail. Trying on clothes will never be the same.

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