Here’s how and why smart organizations encourage employee development

While there are many reasons why employees leave an organization, one big factor is a lack of development. Common challenges can hinder efforts to create a strong culture of growth and development, among them: 

Fear of losing talent: Some organizations don’t support professional growth because they fear it can create at path for employees out of the organization. Nurture people to be their best, and leave the door open for that talent to return when your paths align again.

Managers who don’t support development: Remind managers that employee growth is to the organization’s advantage, and provide resources to support that.

Being clueless of employee aspirations: Get to know employees as people, not just as workers. Discuss career tracks and opportunities to advance within the organization so employees know what to expect.

Employees don’t own their development: Managers are coaches and advocates. And while employees need manager support to succeed, they need to take charge of their own growth and development. Create an environment where employees are encouraged to expand their skills and aspirations.

By implementing effective employee development best practices, organizations can overcome common challenges and create a culture of growth and learning that can improve employee retention and drives business success.


1. Connect with employees: Know employee career aspirations, check their progress, provide guidance, and discuss bigger-picture topics.

2. Provide constructive feedback: Some people shy away from feedback, but performance discussions are critical to employees performing well and continuing to grow.

3. Encourage employees to pursue internal positions: Make sure new job opportunities are posted internally. Encourage employees to apply and aim to prioritize them as applicants.

4. Look for cross-training opportunities: Encourage managers to watch for cross-training or development opportunities during interdepartmental meetings and discussions.

5. Provide manager training: Develop managers as coaches who can help employees to think through issues, overcome business challenges, and improve decision making.

6. Give employees new opportunities: Recommend employees for projects that expand their knowledge and skills. Discuss employee progress with other leaders to ensure their good work is on people’s radars.

7. Offer skill development training: Provide employees opportunities to learn skills relevant to their work and long-term goals. Offer real-world applications and challenge employees with stretch assignments to ensure continued growth.

8. Incentivize managers for employee development: Equip managers with resources to support employee development. Ensure they are motivated to help employees grow, even if it results in team transitions.

Employee development is essential for the growth and success of any organization. By investing in employee development, organizations can:

  • Foster a culture of learning and growth.
  • Equip employees with skills and knowledge.
  • Build a strong workforce.
  • Contribute to the organization’s long-term success.


Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s survey partner for Top Workplaces.

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