Why employee development is a necessity


With every half-full glass comes a half-empty glass. The good news is that we are out of the Great Recession and the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that our unemployment rate is 5.3%. Naturally, workers are more confident about the job prospects. Here’s the half-empty news: With this positive trend, employers need to work harder to retain and develop key talent.

What does this mean for organizational leaders? Planning for employee development is no longer optional, it is essential to stay competitive. Here’s the great news: There are resources to help managers create meaningful development plans for their employees.

Why employee development now?

Long-term relationships between employee and employer have eroded over time for a variety of reasons. Employees are now less dependent on their employers for health and pension benefits, leaving them less reason to stay with one employer.

Affordable Health Care Act. Whether you agree or not with this, the Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obamacare), has reduced the need for employees to stay in a job for health care benefits. The increased flexibility persuaded some workers to make a change or start an entrepreneurial business.

The Great Recession. Many employees felt abused by employers during the economic recession. Multiple layoffs and below-market wages have led some to reject full-time work with a single employer in favor of multiple contract options that offer higher wages, more flexibility and the all-important “right of refusal”.

Increase in opportunities. With the recession behind us, companies are hiring again and asking recruiters to find specialized skills and preferred talents. As the pool of unemployed becomes depleted, employers will need to push potential employees away from the competition.

Access to information. Anyone with access to the internet has the 24/7 opportunity to post a plethora of jobs and network with thousands of groups and individuals. Websites like Glassdoor provide candidates with information about the internal culture of organizations before they decide to apply or accept jobs. Access to salary information allows candidates to better negotiate these issues.

Lower retirement benefits. Employers used to keep their employees long term with the reward for their loyalty in the form of a pension. Those days are almost over. According to Towers Watson, the percentage of employers offering traditional plans to newly hired employees fell from around 50% to just 7% in 2013, and the numbers are expected to decline further in the years to come.

Enter the IDP

Employers cannot recruit all the talent needed to be competitive in a dynamic business world, so they need to develop their capacities internally. The Employee Individual Development Plan (IDP), while not new, is reappearing as an important tool for managers. A carefully designed IDP can meet the learning and development needs of almost any employee.

Regardless of their employee development background, managers can use IDPs to foster a culture of continuous development and learning to make their organization a place where employees want to work. Employees, especially Millennials, place a high value on career development opportunities in the workplace. Building relevant and flexible IDPs is a first step towards providing this support to valued employees.

Internally displaced people simplified

Creating a meaningful IDP takes time and thoughtful communication between employee and manager, but the potential rewards are well worth the ongoing effort. Here are some tips that will make your development efforts easier.

To ask questions. Get your employees to discuss their career direction and possible learning activities. This will build motivation and buy-in as they create a specialized plan. Asking questions and listening shows that you care about their development and their ideas.

Let the employee take the lead. Ultimately, your employees will own their plans. By encouraging them to take the initiative in implementing and sustaining the plan, it will be their plan, not yours.

To be open minded. Be prepared to hear your employees’ ideas, even if they don’t match yours. Asking clarifying questions and exploring different directions can open up new ideas for everyone.

Be creative. The possibilities for challenging assignments are limited to your creativity and that of your employees. Think beyond the obvious tasks within your own department.

To delegate. The strength of one person is the opportunity for development of another. Chances are your employees are less skilled and less familiar with some of your responsibilities. Many managers have earned their positions because of the breadth of their skills and knowledge. Delegating meaningful work to employees not only helps remove work from your list so you can focus on leadership needs, but also provides rich development opportunities for less experienced employees.

Keep the “recording” brief. A common concern among managers when establishing PDIs is the time it takes to register regularly to assess progress. “Check-in” does not have to be a formal meeting; a few minutes during a one-on-one are usually sufficient.

be proactive. An IDP is a proactive strategy. It is better now to spend time working on the development of your employees than to wish later. Your employees need time to learn new systems, skills and roles, before it becomes essential to apply them. In addition, employee development promotes retention. While there is no guarantee that your employees will stay, Millennials in particular are more likely to seek out an employer who supports their careers.

Clearly, the need for timely development aligned with an employee’s career direction will continue to be an important strategy for employees, managers, and businesses. To help you navigate this business, there are two new TD At Work Resources, Timely and Convenient.

First of all, Keep your career on track by Susan Kaiden is intended to help individuals identify their best skills and assess how their background compares to the demands of today’s job market. Its accompanying issue, “The Manager’s Guide to Employee Development,” is a practical and concise guide to career and development discussions with employees and to creating and implementing a workable IDP. .

For more information, join me for the webcast, Employee Development Conversations, November 6 at noon EST.