How to Support Employee Development (And a Growth Plan Template)

Imagine it: Productive and satisfied employees that are engaged in your business and stick around for the long haul. It’s every employer’s dream! So how can you give your business a shot at this kind of labor?  

Support your employees’ development. 

Helping your employees grow within their field and/or learn skills outside of it goes a long way in showing that you care. This creates loyal employees and a fulfilled workforce. 

Consider this: Over half of employees we surveyed in our annual Candidate Experience Report said that they have considered leaving their job within the last twelve months. Another survey of employees found that “searching for job growth and advancement” was a top reason that employees leave their jobs. Another important stat comes from a 2021 Gallup survey: 87% of millennials prioritize professional growth and development opportunities in the workplace. 

employees considering leaving their jobs

The research suggests that having a clear upward trajectory is very important to job seekers and employees. As an employer, you have the power to offer employee development opportunities that make your business a great place to work. 

There are a lot of ways to support employee development in any industry. Let’s talk about some ideas for encouraging employee growth. We’ll also share a Growth Plan Template that we use at CareerPlug to help our employees reach their career goals. 

1. Invest in employees

Turnover is expensive. In fact, the cost of replacing one employee can range from one-half to two times that employee’s annual salary. 

At CareerPlug we believe it’s important to think of every employee as an investment for your business. And like other investments, consistency and patience is key. Hire for careers, not just jobs and put time and resources into your employees. Your return will be loyal, productive employees that make a positive and lasting impact on your business. 

Depending on your type of business, you may have more or less resources to invest in employee development. Whether you are able to offer employees a small stipend to spend on books or contribute to an entire post-graduate program, investing in your employees’ growth will make them feel more motivated and engaged

Some other continuing education ideas are workshops, seminars, lectures, and mentorship programs. The key is to make your work environment a place where employees are comfortable asking for help and encouraged to seek out opportunities for growth. 

2. Upskill and reskill 

Employee development can be a lot of things. Preparing employees for another role within your business may come to mind, but it can also involve sharpening their skills in a current position. 

Upskilling and reskilling are employee development strategies that can be mutually beneficial for both employers and employees. 

Upskilling refers to supporting employees as they hone their skills and get really good at what they do, and reskilling involves giving your employees the chance to learn new skills and take on new responsibilities. We recently had a great example of this at CareerPlug, where a longtime member of the sales team was encouraged by his manager to take coding classes. After gaining some coding skills, he made the switch to our product team in a new role as a software developer! 

3. Check in often 

One thing that’s important when supporting employee development is making it a priority to check in with your employees and make it easy for them to keep track of their own progress. This can be a quick 15 to 20 minute meeting each week where you see how employees are doing and give them an opportunity to ask for extra support.

You may standardize this using a weekly check-in form or simply prepare a few questions to ask each week. Give employees time to brainstorm ideas for growth and listen to their ideas. Being present with your employees in this way on a regular basis will go a long way in helping them feel supported. 

4. Provide feedback and recognition 

Aside from weekly check-ins, it’s also important to provide real-time, ongoing feedback, suggestions for improvement, and recognition to employees. 

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that high-performing employees like feedback too. If someone is doing something right, let them know. Remember: Showing gratitude costs nothing! Gratitude is a big part of our culture at CareerPlug and we love to “shout-out” our teammates at our weekly company meetings when they go above and beyond. 

You may also choose to reward hard working employees through bonuses, free meals, or other fun incentives. You can get creative here and find a reward system that works for your business and helps employees feel appreciated. 

5. Help employees set and reach goals 

Goals are key in growing both within and outside of your career. Some employees may be highly motivated and already have big career goals in mind. Others may need a little help figuring out the next steps on their path. 

We like to help our employees map out their goals both big and small, and short and long term. We use the “SMART” goals system to make goals more clear and actionable. 

This is where a growth plan can be helpful. Using a growth plan, employees can take a little time to think about the skills they have and the ones they’d like to develop. They can think about both personal and professional dreams that they have and find more clarity on how they can reach them. This has been a great tool for supporting employee development that we use at CareerPlug. 

Below, you’ll see an example of one completed section of the growth plan. Click the image below to view the fully filled out growth plan example.

example of completed growth plan

Employee Growth Plan Template

To help you support your employees’ development, we’ve provided the same Growth Plan Template we use at CareerPlug. Download your free Growth Plan Template by clicking the button below

Final thoughts

Employee development should be on your mind as early as the hiring process. When interviewing, pay attention to a candidate’s soft skills and consider hiring for their growth potential vs. bullet points on a resume. Also try to promote internally when you have open roles as much as you can. 

Though it takes a little extra time and effort, supporting your employees’ development can definitely pay off. This is something that managers in every industry can do to help employees feel that you are invested in their growth. This encourages them to contribute more to your business and increases the likelihood of them staying with you long term. 

Employee retention is the best recruiting strategy, and supporting your employees’ growth is a great place to start.

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Native to Texas, Jenny graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and joined CareerPlug in 2017. She retired her first career path as a Registered Dietitian after 10 years, and has found her true belonging in business operations.

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