6 Effective Employee Development Methods that Will Turn your Company into a Learning Organization
Globalization is weaving its way into our everyday lives, redefining the way we work and interact with companies around us. And today’s generation of workers desire personal, intuitive experiences, forcing companies to rethink their approach to attract and retain talent.
One way to enrich your employees’ journey is by introducing them to a wide variety of training and development activities. However, this goes beyond buying redundant video courses for your people. We’ve moved past the era of giving boring workshops and piles of handbooks. It’s time to make way for technologically diverse programs that cater to every worker’s unique needs and challenges.
When you design these programs, it’s important to keep your employees in mind, only then your seeds of effort will sprout into fruitful experiences.
Here is how to get started with your employee development activities today. Get inspired from best practices you can easily implement in your own organization.
🏫 The basics of employee development activities
Employee development is like a marriage between an employee and an employer, both coming together to make this relationship work. Here, the most important developments don’t happen through elaborated programs. It is during the smaller moments that occur within the workplace: on-the-job learning opportunities, training activities, engaging conferences, that nurture this relationship to success.
When such developmental programs are wholeheartedly designed to benefit your employees’ careers, it will become much easier to achieve your goals.
❓ Why is employee development important?
We’ve rounded up several reasons that reaffirm the benefits of investing in employee development. For one, 74% of all employees believe that they don’t reach their full potential in the workplace.
Also, companies that invest in employee development are profitable by 24%. The reason is simple - if you invest in your employees’ learning and development, they hone their skills, adding more value to your company. And when employees see themselves flourishing in their role, they’ll be motivated to work longer at your organisation, thus reducing your turnover.
Another reason is, lack of development opportunities can make an employee feel disconnected with their role. Issues like miscommunication with managers, working half-heartedly, and less engagement will begin to surface, pushing them to leave their job. It is said, 40% of employees will leave a company within one year if they don’t have opportunities to learn and grow.
In the end, having great employee development opportunities will put your organisation above others. In this case, you will attract the crème de la crème of talented workers.
🏁 Employee development goals
The specific goals you set for your employees will depend greatly on your company and the role they work in. Some goals to include are:
- Completing a specific course
- Being promoted into a certain role
- Hitting certain performance metrics in their role
- Mastering a new program
- Improving your communication skills
- Improving your project management skills
It’s a good idea to set these goals together with your employees and monitor their progress on agreed milestones. The success of your employee development program will greatly depend on the goals you set, and how measurable and relevant they are.
For example, focusing on “improving your communication skills” is a good start but there’s no way you can measure that in a tangible way.
On the other hand, “decreasing your sprint time by 2 days per development sprint” is a much more precise and actionable goal. The more focused your goals are, the faster you will learn if your employee development activities are fruitful or not.
If you want to create a structure, it’s best to monitor your employees’ progress on these goals occasionally.
Most employee development initiatives take over a year, and checking results towards the end can be a hard pill to swallow.
Instead, do weekly or monthly surveys to check what your employees have learned. You may not get measurable results every time, but you will get immediate feedback, which is just as important.
Further resources on goals:
- You can find a more detailed guide on creating employee development plans here.
- And if you're just looking for inspiring examples from other companies, find 10+ real-life development plans (with detailed analyses).
📚 Employee development types
Depending on where the employee development activities are done, they can be classified into two following groups:
- On-the-job (employees learn at workspaces)
- Off-the-job (employees acquire knowledge outside of the workplace)
Both these activities help elevate your employees, it’s your choice to implement one they will benefit most from.
On-the-job development is beneficial because it’s cost efficient, easier to implement, and customisable to your workplace. It’s a good way to engage both - the instructors and the “students”, bringing them to work together on a common goal. Both sides will appreciate the dynamic and the practical nature of the development activity. On the downside, these are mostly self-learning activities, so it could disconnect your employees from their roles and responsibilities.
On the flip side, off-the-job development brings fresh ideas into the workplace, as it’s taught externally. You can implement it in the form of webinars, ebooks, podcasts, and several other modern formats.
...is usually led by industry experts and it can make an employee feel more appreciated and valued.
One of the biggest challenges of off-the-job training is its theoretical nature. Employees are trained to learn from imagined case studies, which can be a bit different from real-life situations. There is no hands-on approach and the employees practically need to guide themselves through the curriculum.
Given the rapid spread of remote work, many companies today are forced to use a hybrid model of employee development that works for both types of arrangements. Cost plays a major role too, so make sure to weigh out your options and choose the one that best suits your organisation and employees.
📠 Traditional employee development methods and activities
Before remote work became a global trend, there were only a handful ways through which employees could prepare themselves for the professional world. These include the following:
- Video training
- Academic degrees
For a good while, these were accepted as the only forms of learning and developing one's skills. However, we’ve moved way past that era. A lot of organizations are implementing customised training programs for their employees. This way, they can unlock more value by allowing their employees to have deeper and more-meaningful learning experiences.
Without debating over the importance of a degree, it’s important to mention that upskilling through formal training is an equally effective route you can approach.
For example, you can sponsor your employee’s BA or MA degree or offer informal, bite-sized formats of education.
Whichever way you go, it’s important that your employees can use these learnings to their advantage.
📈 6 Engaging and innovative employee development activities to try
If you don’t want to send your employees back to universities and you’re more fond of practical, fun methods, here are a few you can try within your organization.
Learning day or learning hour
One of the most rewarding experiences you can give your employees is some time off. During this period, they can dedicate a few hours a week to learn new skills or absorb valuable information.
For example, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and many others follow the 5-hour rule. Here, they give themselves one hour a day (or five hours every week) for reading or learning new skills. This could be anything from mastering a new op to improving communication skills.
If you get inspired from this route, make sure to adopt a system where employees can report their learnings. We suggest having weekly or monthly check-in’s on Slack where employees can share their progress to the management and their team members.
If you’re more fond of long-term activities, set aside an entire day for learning something new. This could be the perfect opportunity for a remote company meetup where instead of team building, you acquire practical skills. This can be an on-the-job or off-the-job activity, where you invite experts to share knowledge.
Learning days are best done in an offline setting simply because you can have more control and you know exactly what the employees are doing at a given point in time.
One of the best ways your employees can acquire knowledge is by connecting them with experienced employees within your organisation. This way, they will get first-hand knowledge from people who’ve already translated their learnings into real life experiences. The challenge here is to just break down silos and help facilitate the training process.
This interaction will not only help your team learn more and polish their skills, but it will also create a collaborative work environment. This way, your employees will feel independent and responsible for scheduling and leading employee development activities.
The great thing about peer learning is that there is no shortage of tools. You can create a Slack channel where employees can share their learnings, and offer feedback. It is a good start until you’re ready to use something more robust.
There are quite a few peer learning tips to help you create a better experience but perhaps the most important one is to assign a peer learning facilitator. They can provide a structure to the experience, guide the discussion and make sure that new employees are paired with seasoned veterans.
For example, LinkedIn had a peer learning activity where employees taught each other about the key company values through practice. It was led and facilitated by the employees where they prepared one another for real-life experiences. Furthermore, subject matter experts can provide LinkedIn endorsements to add social recognition element within peer learning activity.
Communities of practice
This is an example of another great activity that doesn’t originate in the workplace. A community of practice or a COP is a group of people who share a common interest or a desire to pursue a mutual goal. This could be: trying to cut down a long sales cycle, improving their marketing content, organising meetings in a more structured way - you name it.
Hewlett Packard is well known for having communities of practice where the main aim is reducing downtime for their customers. The meetings are held monthly via video calls.
🤝 Are you already a part of Zavvy’s People Enablement community? Access a library of concrete examples from top companies and ask your peers’ for advice and insights.
Unlike peer learning, mentorship routines are a one-way street. With peer learning, employees learn from each other while mentorships are a guided experience where senior staff members teach others the knowledge and skills needed to advance in their career.
This is a well-known method of employee development and it can be used in diverse settings. Mentors and mentees can voluntarily participate in this program as per their convenience, and skill sets.
Despite being a one-sided activity, it still requires a conscious effort from both sides for the routine to work. Both the mentor and the mentee need to have a structure in their meetings, offer valuable feedback, proactively schedule sessions, and more.
General Electric is a well-known example of a company with a superb mentoring program. Top-level executives are connected with various employees to not only help them learn more but also to train them for leadership roles.
Whether your employees work remotely, in the office, or in a hybrid model, onboarding is a crucial step in an employee's personal development journey. This is especially important in remote companies, where it could take months for new hires to meet their colleagues in person. This makes onboarding one of the most defining moments in your employee’s journey, and we’re here to guide you at every step.
See how you can welcome your new hires with enthusiasm and dedication through our customised onboarding programs.
Here’s an example of our client - Roadsurfer, a company that is at reaching new heights of success with 35+ locations across Europe. A company with an international presence, they emphasise on the importance of onboarding new people. Using Zavvy’s learning journeys and templates, they are able to successfully onboard an average of 27 employees per month.
We selected another great example from the software giant - Microsoft. Ever since they rolled out the remote work model, they’ve hired over 27,000 new employees. They attribute this success to their hybrid onboarding process because of which their new hires could easily connect with their managers.
After reading several case studies, one of the key findings is that when managers are active in the onboarding process, new hires are x3.5 more likely to feel satisfied with their onboarding.
Here’s another statistic to keep in mind: 22% of all turnover will happen in the first 45 days after a new hire starts on their job. If you don’t set things off efficiently, you’ll have to hire a replacement employee quickly, costing you even more time and money.
Hybrid onboarding is here to stay. According to Flexjobs, remote work is projected to grow quite a bit in the upcoming years. They say, “By 2025, 36.2 million people in the USA will be working remotely. Some of them will be fully remote, but we have reasons to believe that the hybrid approach will be alive and well.”
As such, it’s a good idea to get the most out of a hybrid workplace and get accustomed to onboarding employees in this new setting.
Not all learning has to take days and hours. Some of the best learning methods are bitesize activities that don’t take more than a few minutes to complete. For example, an activity in a certain app, writing a piece of text, analyzing an image, and more.
Walmart is one of the biggest companies in the world and they have an excellent example of microlearning in place. Accidents at work began to surface in everyday routines. Since they employ people of varied age groups, it was important for their solution to be all age-inclusive. So they introduced short 3-4 minute quizzes where each employee could easily remember what (not) to do. As a result, incidents in some Walmart stores dropped by an amazing 54%.
Another great example of microlearning comes from the tech giant IBM. Their new project - IBM Cloud required a large number of professionals to familiarise themselves in an area unbeknownst to their knowledge.
Being IBM, of course, they developed their full-fledged platform called IBM Micro Learning, where they introduced brief exercises for different roles, each aiming to teach a specific skill.
It is no surprise that the microlearning niche in software is booming. There are a lot of apps that make learning fun and memorable. One such app is Grovo, that lets you pick a variety of lessons on compliance, personal development and many other topics which are crucial for the workplace. You can use their templates, edit them or create something of your own for your specific needs.
If you're interested in setting up microlearning programs yourself, check out how Freeletics created a training routine for their leaders with Zavvy.
🚀 How to get started with effective employee development activities
As a leader of your team or an organisation, your focus should be on elevating your employees.
What matters is you understand their needs, and offer tailored learning programs they can benefit from. Most of these are low maintenance activities, requiring only a few hours of preparation and a stable internet connection.
But keeping people engaged requires quite some manual effort. To help you take workload off your plate, we, at Zavvy are happy to help you with creatingengaging development activities, regardless of your industry.
With our customised learning journeys, you will be able to reap benefits of a more involved, engaged team: boosting productivity and team morale.
Why choose Zavvy?
- Nurture your team's growth: Accelerate their progress with personalized development plans and over 10,000 external courses.
- Show your people the end goal: With dynamic competency matrices, leveling frameworks, and distinct career paths, your people would know what they are striving toward. They will have aclear destination for their growth efforts.
- Unearth valuable insights from multi-rater feedback to bolster growth: Enhance team performance with our intuitive performance evaluation, skill gap assessments, insightful feedback summaries, and competency reports.
- Need a digital ally? Zavvy's AI assistant is at your service to streamline your growth processes and maximize efficiency.
- Say no to isolated processes! With Zavvy, blend performance feedback, actionable development initiatives, and training resources for a seamless experience.
📅 Ready to give it a try? Request a quick demo.