Improve Efficiency With an Effective Employee Development Program

When asked to identify their biggest hiring challenge for 2015, 63 percent of respondents said finding qualified staff was their biggest obstacle, according to a recent poll of 200 Northeast region C-suite executives, directors and managers by The Execu-Search Group staffing and recruiting firm. This number jumps to 80 percent in the accounting and finance sectors. Moreover, hiring new talent is expensive; the Society for Human Resources Management estimates that the direct cost of replacing an employee can run 50 to 60 percent of their annual salary.

These figures highlight the value of retaining and developing your talent instead of replacing it. Implementing an employee development program can optimize your staff while cutting your costs, making it a worthwhile investment.

Follow Employee Development Program Best Practices

Mentoring and talent development solutions provider Chronus boils employee development program best practices down into an eight-step formula. They recommend starting by defining your program's objectives. Typical objectives include team building, leadership development, stress management, health in the workplace, employee motivation and mentoring.

Chronus also recommends identifying someone on your leadership team to champion the program. This person should receive additional support from a program director or executive sponsor. Other best practices include:

  • Build flexibility into your program by using one-on-one mentoring and participant interaction to enhance group training
  • Promote your program internally
  • Train participants about the program to help them get the most out of it
  • Take a proactive role in matching employees to mentors
  • Use software to track and measure developmental success
  • Broadcast employee success stories to provide role models and motivate staff

Promote Continuing Education

One effective way to promote employee development is by supporting continuing education programs for employees. Higher education online newspaper EvoLLLution's research paper "Lifelong Education and Labor Market Needs" found that continuing education increases corporate efficiency as well as employee income. A whopping 96 percent of employers surveyed reported that continuing education improved job performance, and 78 percent factored continuing education into promotion decisions, due to its impact on employees' ability to bridge skills gaps between entry-level and mid-level positions.

One way to promote continuing education is by hiring outside firms to provide seminars that teach specialty skills. For example, Moody's Analytics offers an advanced corporate credit analysis seminar to bring credit professionals' analysis skills to a higher level. Online educational opportunities are also available, including numerous free massive open online courses (MOOCs). A number of other cost-efficient employee educational strategies are available, including on-the-job conferences and in-house mentoring as well as offsite classes.

Plan an Employee Development Timetable

Just as a college student follows a specific course sequence and timetable when earning a degree, your employees will have more success pursuing development if they plan and follow a developmental schedule. Texas A&M University's Employee & Organizational Development program uses an Employee Development Planning Worksheet to help employees identify their developmental needs and create an actionable plan. The worksheet charts target areas for development, developmental activities, target dates and completion dates, and includes a column for comments. The worksheet can be used both by employees and by supervisors supporting employee development.