Even predictions of a shaky economy can’t halt the great resignation, considering over 46.6 million American workers quit in 2022.  

With 32% of employees citing a lack of growth opportunities for resigning, learning and development are essential to employee retention. 

A professional development plan for employees may be easy to implement for large corporations with generous training budgets, but can you afford to do so as a small business owner?  

The answer is yes if you want your staff to learn, grow, and develop. 

This article reveals how to achieve higher productivity and employee satisfaction by creating a professional development plan. In seven steps, you can foster a positive environment for employees who want to grow your company into a success story. 

Interested in getting help creating a professional development plan for your employees? Contact us here

What is a Professional Development Plan?  

A professional development plan for employees gives workers a clear path to career advancement by allowing them to improve skills, gain new ones, and continue their education. Doing so prepares them to take on new roles in the company and boost your business.   

Unlike training, which fills a gap, professional development focuses on the growth of staff and your business. This can take many shapes.  

Consider classes, workshops, increasing duties, or the chance to earn certificates. 

The war for talent and the pandemic’s impact on the workplace has changed how employers view employee benefits. Over 60% of employers think career development benefits are essential now compared to 51% before Covid-19. 


Why It’s Important to Create a Professional Development Plan  

A successful professional development plan will contribute to your company’s success.  

Considering 78% of employers allow staff to develop new skills, your business might be left behind if you don’t. 

Also, with fast-changing technology, change is constant in the workplace. Preparing your employees for newer roles and giving them ongoing training will prime your company to keep up with competitors and industry trends.  

But there are more benefits: 

Higher retention rates – SHRM’s 2022 Workplace Learning and Development Trends report revealed that 76% of staff indicate they are more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training. 

Attract better talent – With 48% agreeing that training opportunities were a factor in choosing their employer, can you afford to be left behind? 

Higher employee satisfaction When workers pursue professional development, they will bolster confidence in their abilities to do their job, increasing job satisfaction and morale. 

Higher productivity – Foster a learning culture, and your staff will thrive, be motivated, and increase productivity. 


7 Easy Steps to Create a Professional Development Plan for Employees  

Professional development is key to a flourishing workforce. It may seem daunting but breaking the process down into simple steps makes it more manageable.  

1 – Set Goals 

Start with your company’s strategic vision and contemplate how you can meet it.  

Assess what the company needs to achieve, and ask yourself: 

  • What skills are needed to achieve success? 

  • How can we measure progress?  

  • Does it take time and money, and if so, how much? 

  • Is our goal realistic? If not, how can we make it easier to achieve?  

Define your goal and look to the future. Consider the demands of a changing industry and envisage where you would like your company to be in the next five, ten, or even twenty years. 

Once the overall goals are clear, set individual goals for each employee using the SMART method to devise realistic goals and make tracking progress easy.  

SMART stands for:  

  • Specific 

  • Measurable 

  • Attainable 

  • Realistic 

  • Time-Bound 

For example, a SMART goal for a manager could be: 

Improve the overall team’s performance by 20% (realistic, attainable & measurable) by using our new production tool (specific) before year-end (time-bound).  

2 – Take Inventory of Skills You Already Have  

With a training needs analysis, you’ll streamline your training process by analyzing in-house skills.

Start by taking your company goals and identifying: 

  • Knowledge, skills, and abilities you need to achieve set goals 

  • How much of the above do your employees possess already? 

  • The gaps in knowledge, skill, and ability 

  • The type of training necessary to close the gaps  

You may be surprised with the skills your team already has. By utilizing in-house resources, you can save time and money. 

3 – Talk to Your Employees  

With 31% of staff wanting more control over their training, getting your employees on board is key to achieving a successful development plan. Get their input by discussing the process with them. 

Ask staff: 

  • What are their career goals, and how can you align them with the company’s goals? 

  • How would they like to receive their training, in person or online? 

  • Have they had training in the past that they found to be beneficial? If yes, what about it was so helpful?  

  • Do you need to clear any obstacles? 

Incorporate feedback into your plan for maximum engagement. 

4 – Decide What Type of Training You Want to Do 

There are many different types of training and preferences. In a recent SHRM study, 64% of workers indicate they prefer instruction using simulations, whereas learning from blogs and internet sources is the least popular choice at 17%.  

Types of training can include: 

  • E-learning 

  • Hands-on training 

  • Coaching 

  • Peer mentoring 

  • Role-playing 

  • Group activities and discussions 

  • Lunch and learns with industry experts 

Many companies even choose to incorporate several types of training to better meet the needs of all their employees.  

5 – Make a Training Plan  

Create a training plan only once you have established the SMART goals for each employee and identified the type of training necessary. 

To ensure your training plan doesn’t gather dust, address the following: 

  • Does the employee need to do any preparation work? 

  • How much time will the activity take? 

  • Who can take over in times of training? 

  • What does the company expect the staff member to learn? 

  • How will the training benefit the employee’s advancement? 

  • Can the employee put her new skills into practice afterward? 

  • What policies will you implement regarding participation, payment, and incurring travel costs? 

6 – Implement Your Professional Development Plan  

Thanks to including staff at every step, launching your professional development plan for employees should be straightforward. 

But don’t stop there. Keep it alive by sharing internal job opportunities and success stories to show employees an achievable career trajectory. 

7 – Review Results and Get Feedback  

To ensure maximum efficiency, you must review all training results. Also, set up regular meetings to solicit staff feedback and adapt plans if desired.  

Professional development plans work best when they’re flexible. This means removing obstacles when necessary and adapting to changing needs of both staff and the company. 

Final Thoughts  

With millions of workers still leaving jobs despite an uncertain economy, holding onto valued employees is vital.  

Fostering a learning environment can allow you to do so. 

It may seem daunting, but creating a professional development plan for employees can be done in seven simple steps, including setting goals and reviewing results. 

A well-thought-out plan will create a growth mindset for your organization and boost retention rates, employee engagement, and higher productivity. 

If you’d like to speak to an HR representative about your business, contact us. 

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