Planning for Success: The Importance of Employee Training and Development Plans

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Employee training and development plans can improve performance and productivity. Read to discover how to create personalized learning plans based on our samples.

Employee training and development plans can improve performance and productivity. Read to discover how to create personalized learning plans based on our samples.

The workplace is evolving rapidly. The pace at which businesses are adopting new technologies and processes is increasing, and this is going to have a huge impact on your workforce. Many of them are currently in jobs that will soon no longer exist and the jobs that will be created in their place will require skills that your workforce does not currently have.

The figures are clear—according to the World Economic Forum, 50% of employees will need to be reskilled by 2025. This means that now’s the time to act to future-proof your business and offer ongoing L&D opportunities in the workplace. 

The best way to give your employees the skills they need and make your L&D efforts as effective as possible is by creating training and development plans. Always remember that your employees are individuals who will have individual needs and job-specific training requirements. 

If training and development plans aren’t currently part of your practice, knowing where to start isn’t always easy. But we’re here to help!


What Is An Employee Development Plan?


An employee development plan is made in collaboration with the employee and their manager. It details their career goals and opportunities within the organization, and how they get there. The plan documents these goals for the employees, management, and HR to keep records of and to periodically review. The progress of each employee will be reviewed against these goals to see how successful they were.

A good development plan will detail an employee’s strengths and weaknesses and set goals to address those weaknesses. It will list skills to be learned or developed, have a plan for enhancing that employee’s performance, and specify a time frame over which these goals will be achieved.

Valuing learning and development means valuing the individual’s journey through the process and making sure that their training is meeting their needs. But how do you know that the training you’re delivering is relevant and effective to that individual? Without any measure, you don’t! That’s why creating personalized employee training and development plans should be an important step.

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Why Do Employee Development Plans Matter?


It’s a good question and one which demands an answer. In the past, you may have had good results from a one-size-fits-all training program. So why adopt a more employee-centric approach now? It turns out that there are huge benefits to your business in creating personalized employee development plans. They can help to make your L&D efforts more effective, make it easier to track learning progress, tell you whether a program was successful, and show you how learner goals align with the company’s objectives. 

These are the immediate and obvious benefits to your organization. But, in giving employees training precisely tailored to their individual needs, there are lots of other long-term benefits to be had:


1. Improves Employee Performance


There’s nothing more demotivational in a learning environment than a strictly-defined training program that doesn’t meet the learner’s needs. If your employees can’t see the point of their training and are given courses to complete that have no bearing on their individual circumstances then they aren’t likely to succeed, However, if they’re motivated by engaging and relevant training, they’re more likely to learn. Creating personalized learning and development plans for each individual means there’s a higher chance they’ll be focused on achieving their goals because they played a part in setting them. Not only that, having a clear strategy laid out ahead of them means they know exactly how to achieve their targets.

2. Boosts Retention


If your people are achieving their goals and advancing in their careers, they’re more likely to stick around for the long haul. A LinkedIn report found that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development. Your people want opportunities and it’s down to you to provide them. Creating training plans is a sure-fire way to make sure that they’re developing the skills that they want.

This means listening to your employees and taking on board their circumstances and ambitions. Put simply, you should adopt a hands-on approach to creating employee development plans! This is going to involve assessing your business goals, setting time aside for line managers and employees to get a good feel for the situation on the ground, and coming up with actionable plans that everyone can get behind.


3. Helps to Align Employee and Organizational Goals


You may already be aware of skills that are currently missing from your workforce and want to work with them to close any skills gaps, but that’s only one issue you need to be considering. If the recent past has taught us anything, it’s that the future can be wildly unpredictable and throw up challenges that only future-proofed businesses can handle. You might not have a crystal ball but you should still be thinking about what obstacles your business may face in the future and what skills and roles are needed to overcome them and achieve your goals. That’s step one in creating a robustly healthy future for your organization.

Step two is to identify employees in your talent pool who will need upskilling or reskilling to meet these needs. Marrying your organizational goals to employees’ training needs is essential and a specific, personalized learning and development plan can steer your people in the right direction.


4. Increases Learning Retention


Setting time aside for L&D is all well and good, but how much of what they’ve learned will your people actually remember and use in their day-to-day? A study by Gartner found that employees are learning skills they’ll never use—on average, employees are only using 54% of the skills that they learn in their roles. That equals a lot of wasted time on their part in learning useless information and a lot of wasted expense on yours in providing it. This means that in order for them to develop their own knowledge and skills, the same old L&D that every employee is assigned just won’t cut it and the training you offer has to be focused precisely on their individual needs.

If learning is personalized to the individual and tied into their performance objectives, there’s a greater chance that they’ll actually find value in it, retain that learning and be able to strengthen their knowledge by using their newfound skills in their jobs.



Strategies for Developing Workplace Skills


There are a few things you need to be mindful of when you’re thinking about developing employees:

1. Don’t Forget About Soft Skills


Soft skills are becoming more important, according to SHRM, which found that 89% of new employees fail within the first 18 months due to a lack of soft skills such as professionalism or an ability to get along with others. Hard skills will keep your workforce proficient, but soft skills can help them to become more agile and adaptable within your organization, helping them to move into different roles. There’s growing discourse around updating the term ‘soft skills’—terms like ‘people skills’, ‘human skills’, ‘communication skills’, and even ‘emotional intelligence’ have been suggested, although none have been widely adopted yet. Regardless of the terminology you use, the bottom line is don’t overlook soft skills.


2. Focus on Digital Learning


Your employees will have their primary responsibilities and further learning and development will have to fit in with their already packed schedules. You don’t want your business grinding to a halt while people take time out to learn! This is where an investment in eLearning pays off, as it gives your employees access to the training they require in easily digestible chunks. This means that they can schedule short periods of learning into their days while still performing their essential duties. A good eLearning platform allows you the flexibility to provide the development that your employees want in a form they can adapt to their needs and circumstances.


3. Make Employee Development Personal


Your employees each have their own vision about where they want their career to go. It’s up to you to help them achieve this or, in discussion with them, help them set realistic and achievable goals. Since their ambitions will all be different, a one-size-fits-all training program won’t help them get where they want to be.


4. Link Learning and Performance


Focusing on learning and development is a sure way to have your employees evolve and better themselves. But they also need to see the value in what they do. Tying L&D goals together makes sense—it shows employees that they’re highly valued by your organization, that they’re measurably improving their prospects, and this motivates them to work towards the goals in their development plan. Using a learning and performance management solution, you can easily track employee progress towards their goals.


How to Develop an Employee Training and Development Plan


Developing an employee training and development plan will vary from person to person, depending on their needs, but these differences are in the details. The overall structure of your plans may contain the same considerations applied to every situation. Once you’ve got your formula down, the process should be pretty straightforward and might go something like this:


1. Assess Your Current Business Needs


This should be your starting point. Since all development objectives should align with your organization’s strategy, you need to be clear about what your goals are. Remember, each person will have their own individual goals and objectives, so it’s important that they’re developing skills that you need. This requires strategic thinking on your part and a willingness to consider reskilling some employees to better meet both your goals and theirs.


2. Come Up With a Plan


Talk to your people. Find you what skills they want to develop and where they want to go with their career. Using this information, you can map out how they’re going to get there and create their individual training and development plans. This is the basis of your plan, and in order for them to be successful, you’ll need to make sure they’ve got access to the materials they need. 

One of the most common mistakes businesses make is to use the same learning template for each employee. Although you’ll have training targets to meet, it’s worth remembering the individual and their needs. Each department’s needs will look very different and a senior employee will have different training needs than a college graduate, so your plans should adapt accordingly.


3. Create Your Courses


Digital learning gives your people the freedom to learn whenever and wherever is convenient for them. That’s why it’s worth taking the time to choose the right tools, as this will make creating and distributing eLearning easy. If you have a content authoring tool, even better, as your courses can simply be created, tweaked, and distributed when needed. 


4. Deliver the Training


Learning is a personal experience. While videos might work for some learners, others may prefer quizzes or some form of gamification. Mixing up your learning offering is a great way to keep your learners engaged and help them to feel that their plan is really personalized to their needs.

Investing in the right tools is key to making your L&D efforts a seamless experience. A learning management system can help you keep learning engaging and easy to access. It also allows you to track the progress of your learners and deliver live training. Your LMS should also allow for your learning programs to be a communal experience as a sense of isolation can be an issue for some learners. Making training a social experience through group chats and Q&As is a great way to keep your learners engaged.


5. Evaluate the Success of Your Training


Analytics will let you see how many employees completed the training and how quickly, but your data can only take you so far. The true success of your training will be shown in the knowledge and skills learners remember and apply to their jobs. But be sure to ask them how useful and relevant they thought the courses were and be prepared to modify your training programs in response to the feedback you’re getting. By doing this, your courses will soon evolve into the best and most fitting they can possibly be.

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Components of an Employee Development Plan


The structure of a development plan can vary from one business to the next, depending on what metrics you want to track and what you think is important. But it’s likely that you’ll want to include some of the following sections:


Goals and Aspirations


Both you and your employee will have an idea of where they should be in the future, so this section represents a negotiated agreement on these two views. It requires a realistic appraisal of the employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential, plus a sensitive and measured approach to committing these details to the plan. This section will be role-specific and should list achievable productivity and promotion goals for an employee detailing where they want to be. It could also outline specific dates or measures of success, such as targets.


Training and Development Opportunities


Once realistic goals are set, a number of training requirements become apparent and these will be outlined in this section of the development plan. Your employees will value the structure of a goal-oriented plan and so it will list activities that they can carry out towards their goal with estimated completion dates. This section can also be used to firm up the details of their training and set expectations from your end. You could include a minimum number of hours of training expected per week or list mandatory training courses required.


Skills Required


A good employee training and development plan doesn’t only focus on the training part of the plan. Yes, your employees may need to upskill or reskill to meet the evolving demands of the business but an equally crucial aspect is their personal development. This may involve developing their interpersonal skills or, for employees seeking more senior roles, courses in people management and conflict resolution. 


Action Plans


An action plan has to take into account all the factors affecting the employee and the business. From the employee’s point of view, the action plan should be specific and individually tailored to their needs and the suggested courses of action should be clear, structured, and have attainable goals. At the same time, the action plan should consider the short-term costs and long-term benefits to the team that the employee is part of and the wider business. 


Evaluation Frequency


One key decision that has to be made is the frequency of evaluation. Too high a frequency risks the appearance of micromanagement and employees may not thrive in a learning environment in which management seems to be breathing down their necks. On the other hand, too low a frequency risks the employee’s training going off course with no timely guidance back on to the right track. 

Again, this is a detail that has to be negotiated with the employee and managers should agree on a frequency to review performance towards objectives and career goals. This will usually be every six or 12 months during an appraisal or as part of a performance review, but managers should check-in as part of their regular one-on-ones to offer guidance and support if it’s needed.

RELATED READING | ‘Learning and Performance: Two Sides of the Same Coin


Get Started With a Sample Employee Development Plan


Here’s an example of an employee development plan to help you get going. The template can be adapted according to individual needs.


Employee name:


Employee goals and aspirations: 

Training and development opportunities:

Skills required:

Action plan:


The following example shows a skills-based development plan. 

In this sample, Brandon wants to be promoted to Sales Manager. He and his manager agree on a course of action and decide he could be more skilled in using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform and developing his people skills.

Using an LMS, training providers can create and deliver specific learning to employees based on the skills they want to develop. LMS admins can create a personalized learning journey for Brandon, link relevant training to his journey, and monitor his progress.

The integration of learning and performance management means that it’s easy for Brandon’s manager to check in with him and see how he’s progressing towards his goals.



Employee Name: 

Brandon Pierce



Employee goals and aspirations: 

Promotion to Sales Manager

Training and development opportunities: 

  • Complete a management course
  • Watch a diversity and inclusivity webinar and complete an exam on unconscious bias
  • Undertake CRM training

Skills required:

  • Relationship building
  • Digital skills
  • Conflict resolution

Action plan: 

Build and lead a team of highly motivated sales executives to generate a 10-20% increase in sales over the next 12 months. Undertake a series of training sessions to further develop leadership skills and digital competencies that will enable Brandon to improve his performance.


12 months


How Can Bridge Help?


Bridge Learning Management System designs and delivers scalable learning programs that make learning and compliance engaging for employees.

Using Bridge makes it easy to create and deliver a personalized learning experience and for employees to achieve their own learning goals.

Find out more and get a Bridge demo

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Bridge is a learning and performance platform that transforms organizations by bringing together learning, skills and performance in one unified experience.

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