From the Blog

How employee development programs unlock potential

Empowering your workforce with ongoing learning and growth opportunities is critical to business success. It helps keep your employees engaged and sets them up to achieve the outputs you’re looking for.

Here we unpack the benefits of employee development programs and provide practical strategies to help you connect employee development with your business goals.

What is employee development?

Employee development is the process of improving the skills, behaviours and capabilities of employees. It includes formal training and education and on-the-job opportunities for learning and skill development.

A well-designed employee development strategy benefits both the organisation and the employee. It:

  • keeps a focus on the capabilities that drive key outputs
  • ensures employees are highly skilled assets to their organisation
  • can help future-proof organisations by addressing future capability and skills gaps
  • helps employees to explore their interests, build professional competencies and grow their career
  • supports great workplace culture, employee engagement and retention.

Investing in employee development demonstrates commitment to the growth of your workforce and helps to improve job satisfaction, motivation and retention while boosting critical business outcomes like productivity, profitability and adaptability.

Employee development strategies should include different approaches to formal training and on-the-job training.

Formal learning includes:

  • employee training delivered in a ‘classroom’ situation or via in-person workshops
  • training delivered via learning management systems and e-learning
  • professional mentoring programs.

On-the-job training includes:

  • employee coaching
  • ‘just-in-time’ development opportunities
  • development opportunities like secondments and shadowing.

Unlock employee adaptability

Employees are now less likely to stick to one job – and one career – climbing a traditional vertical ladder. Gen Z is expected to have 16 to 17 jobs across five to six different careers (University of Queensland 2023). Career paths now can take several forms, and employee development is key to ensuring adaptability. It can help to facilitate job mastery, promotions and internal transfers.

Employee development helps employees to upskill and adapt to new roles and challenges.

Unlock future leadership potential

Employee development can nurture talent in your organisation. For long-term growth and success, leadership development is vital. Recognising talent within your organisation and fostering it can prepare employees for future leadership roles.

Spotting leadership potential

Your organisation’s workforce includes its future leaders.Future leaders demonstrate inherent cognitive capabilities and emotional intelligence that make them suited to taking on leadership roles, as well as acquired competencies such as the functional and technical skills important to your organisation. Potential leaders are great at solving problems before escalation and have a positive influence on team morale. They are more likely to engage in wider organisational projects, ask for more responsibility, communicate effectively and foster team success.

Leadership training

Leadership training encompasses the development of essential skills along with industry-specific knowledge of emerging trends and technologies.

For new leaders, the focus may be on soft skills like listening and conflict resolution. New team leaders may have the technical competencies that made them successful in their previous roles but need coaching to support them as they transition into leadership.

Coaching your coaches will also help to drive the success of on-the-job employee coaching programs.

Succession planning

Successful succession planning ensures an uninterrupted leadership chain and readiness for leadership transitions.

Creating structured development plans is essential for transferring crucial leadership knowledge to high-potential employees.

Unlock continuous learning

Organisations with strong employee development initiatives encompassing all levels of an organisation are more likely to have robust cultures with a growth mindset.

Embed learning and coaching into daily operations

It’s vital to weave learning opportunities into the everyday work routine. This can be achieved through activities like shadowing programs and lunch-and-learn sessions, but a sure-fire way to make learning opportunities relevant and directly tied to an employee’s role is through on-the-job coaching. Support employees to practise and embed new skills where they matter most – at work!

Empower managers to support employee growth

A robust employee development program sets expectations for managers and their direct reports. Give leaders the frameworks they need to support professional development and improve employee motivation.

Promote a growth mindset

A growth mindset (i.e., the conviction that one’s capabilities and intellect can evolve) is an invaluable attribute. Leaders can promote a growth mindset by actively engaging in employee coaching and encouraging employees to learn from failure.

Future-proof your business

Mapping the skills and capabilities of your current workforce against future needs will help to identify where there are gaps. Professional development is key to filling these gaps.

Consistently upskilling and providing development opportunities will help to ensure that your people are ready for the demands of your changing workplace.

Personalised development plans can help your employees with their career growth and personal ambitions. Three people at a board in a workplace.

Unlock employee retention

Investing in employee development yields benefits for individual employees, but also for the entire organisation. Investing in your workforce will provide ROI through increased loyalty and retention.

Employee development can:

  • reduce turnover and absenteeism
  • increase motivation and commitment within the workforce
  • enhance an employer’s brand and reputation, attracting top talent.

Improve workplace culture

Fostering a culture where people are encouraged to participate in training and learning and are recognised for their achievements will lead to a happier workplace. Employee engagement improves when people feel like their leaders and employers are investing in them.

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What’s in an employee development plan?

An employee development plan is an essential framework designed to grow the skills development and unlock the potential of your employees. These plans provide employees with professional development opportunities that simultaneously align with your business goals. Robust employee development plans include:

  • tailored skill development and training programs to support individual goals and behavioural objectives
  • coaching to provide personalised support with regular one-on-one meetings
  • career development opportunities
  • specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goal setting
  • a framework for monitoring progress.

Creating personalised employee development plans

Crafting development plans for each employee is like creating a unique road map. The process involves understanding employee aspirations, offering tailored training and learning, and providing ongoing feedback and opportunities to practise new skills and behaviours. It also means aligning individual goals to organisation-wide objectives and addressing skills gaps.

Let’s unpack the steps.

Assessing goals

Understanding the unique needs and aspirations of each employee is key. This can be done through one-on-one conversations, self-assessment questionnaires and surveys on interests and career aspirations. Assessments and evaluations help understand employees’ strengths and areas for growth, guiding the development of tailored individual goals.
Managers and team leaders play a key role in establishing clear, aligned objectives and helping employees understand the purpose behind their development goals.

Integrating employee development with business strategy

A development plan is effective when it links personal goals to wider business objectives.

Let’s look at an example. A business wants to increase productivity and enhance customer satisfaction. An effective development plan for an individual employee identifies any gaps or improvements that could be made to improve their efficiency and customer satisfaction outputs. The plan then supports personalised training resources and on-the-job coaching to practise new skills and behaviours to reach their personal goals ¬– and business objectives.

By aligning employee development goals with the company’s broader objectives, the employee benefits (mastering competencies and closing skills gaps) while meeting the company’s needs.

Reviewing and adapting

Development plans should be treated as dynamic and flexible. They require regular reassessment to ensure they align with the employee’s own goals and the goals of the organisation.

Regular coaching sessions and feedback sessions are great for helping to monitor progress and check in with employees to see if any adaptations are needed.

Tracking progress and outcomes

Accurate key performance indicators (KPIs) and performance metrics are crucial for monitoring the success of employee development plans. Ensure that your goals are SMART and regularly check in with employees to track progress.

Recognising and rewarding progress

It’s important to acknowledge where progress has been made and goals have been achieved. Rewarding employees for their development program progress can boost their sense of accomplishment and purpose, thereby increasing job satisfaction and retention. Rewards can come in various forms, including:

  • financial rewards such as bonuses
  • recognition communicated through different organisational channels
  • personalised rewards to suit individual preferences.

Ways to celebrate achievements and small wins include:

  • giving recognition in a team setting
  • providing small rewards or incentives
  • identifying other opportunities for growth and/or advancement.

Consistently and genuinely recognising success and progress helps to improve workplace culture and can drive the success of employee development strategies. Prompt recognition is crucial as delayed acknowledgment can seem inauthentic and have less impact on motivating employees.

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An example employee development plan

Let’s dig into an employee development plan tailored for a contact centre employee aiming to improve their average handling time (AHT) and sales performance.

  • Assess the employee and set goals: Begin by assessing the employee’s current performance in terms of AHT and sales metrics. An assessment may include an observation to determine how an employee is achieving results. Set clear, achievable goals for improvement, ensuring that the goals are SMART. Encourage employees to be part of this process.
  • Create a training program: Provide targeted training and resources that focus on improving communication skills, active listening, problem-solving and product knowledge. Ensure the training developed is designed to improve the gaps found as part of the assessment above.
  • Provide coaching: Discuss how the employee is going to practise new behaviours and skills and track progress in regular coaching meetings. This type of goal can encourage employees to stretch their abilities and practise new skills while on the job – leading to sustained improved performance. Coaches should offer constructive feedback and help employees address challenges. Employees should also be encouraged to undertake skills practice during coaching to truly determine if they understand requirements.
  • Use technology: Platforms, like YakTrak, can streamline coaching and goal-setting processes and support structured learning and on-the-job learning.
  • Monitor: Provide continuous feedback. Both skilled employees and employees with capability gaps will benefit from ongoing coaching. Coaching leads to engaged employees and higher employee morale.
  • Reward: Recognise when goals have been achieved and celebrate and reward as appropriate.
  • Consider ongoing career growth opportunities: Discuss potential professional development opportunities and career growth within the contact centre.

Including these elements will lead to an effective employee development plan helping a contact centre employee boost their performance and contribute to wider organisational targets.

Invest in employee development

We all need to update our skills to be at our best, but organisational professional development may not be delivered in a way that helps to get the most out of us.

When there’s little organisational commitment to employee development or leaders don’t take an active and genuine interest in the growth of their people, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there may be capability gaps or challenges in meeting changing workforce requirements. It should also not be a surprise that job satisfaction and employee engagement are low.

Even when organisations support employee development, it might be delivered in a haphazard way that doesn’t support ongoing learning and on-the-job application of skills gained.

Many organisations run one-off programs that promise big results – but when people return to daily operations, they quickly forget what happened in the training room or what they learnt in an e-learning module.

Three people including a person with disability at a desk discussing a work item

Unlock potential with employee coaching

Employee development programs that combine formal training and learning with opportunities for on-the-job training and coaching are more likely to be effective at providing sustained and continuous employee growth.

People are more likely to be able to practise the technical skills and behaviours they need to achieve their goals and are therefore more likely to see immediate results.


We’ve covered a lot of ground in this exploration of employee development – from understanding what employee development is to how it unlocks the potential of your workforce to crafting a personalised employee development plan. It’s clear that a robust professional development program is crucial for business success.

Remember, investing in your employees isn’t just a cost – it’s an investment that can yield significant returns in the form of increased productivity, higher employee retention and a more robust company culture. So, are you ready to unlock the potential of your team?

How YakTrak can help

YakTrak supports on-the-job coaching and employee development. YakTrak:

  • helps to set up an operational rhythm that keeps employee development in focus
  • enables team leaders to improve their coaching skills by setting up a cadence and framework for coaching conversations
  • empowers team members to take ownership of their development
  • supports culture change and transformation across a workforce
  • provides visibility over the ongoing development of direct reports and the organisation-wide workforce
  • improves documentation management and provides a central location for documenting employee behaviour and coaching activity.

Get in touch with us today to get a demo or find out more.

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Frequently asked questions

What are the different approaches to employee development?

Employee development involves formal and informal opportunities to learn and practise new skills and behaviours. Formal training includes off-the-job workshops and e-learning modules while on-the-job training includes employee coaching.

What are the goals of employee development?

The goals of employee development include supporting staff in achieving professional goals by identifying capability gaps, enhancing job satisfaction, and fostering professional growth through training and development programs. Employee development aims to align individual aspirations with organisational objectives for mutual benefit.

How can organisations encourage employee engagement?

By offering diverse development opportunities like training programs and employee coaching, organisations can encourage employee engagement, resulting in reduced turnover, improved company culture and higher retention rates.


University of Queensland (2023) How many career changes in a lifetime?