Analysing the concept of Employee Development

Human resources are the most important resources in any organization. It can be said that the success of any organization relies upon the success and performance of its employees. Organizations need to remain competitive within their respective markets and therefore they need their employees to equally competitive. Change management demands that competent employees are hired in order to facilitate the process of adapting to foreseeable challenges in life. Like the many forms of employee training, employee development programs are designed to address issues that affect employees. These issues range from corporate values and organizational missions to understanding and achieving personal career goals. This reports defines employee development (ED), addresses the main differences between training and development, highlights the significance of this process on the individual and organizational levels, points out various approaches used in implementing such process and finally it discusses the roles of both employers and employee in the success development (Roth well, 2010).

Definition of Employee Development

The concept of employee development is not a new one. It has existed since the 1920s and it has changed and evolved depending on the ups and downs of the job market. When unemployment rates are low, making more jobs available, and organizations try to focus on keeping their current employees, so programs are designed with that in mind. When the market is more unstable and rife with lay-offs and downsizing, organizations might focus on cross-training their employees or teaching them more marketable skills. More recently, employers have adapted in such a way that they no longer expect to keep a new employee until their retirement. Hence, many organizations are now focusing their employee development programs on how to achieve personal goals, how to better prepare for various technological advances, and how to be more productive, in an overall sense. In doing this, an organization creates a culture that embraces and encourages employee growth, development and success, which in turn contributes to the overall success of the organization (Sims, 2001).

Employee development is therefore a system of providing opportunities for employees to reach their full potential through improving their skills, knowledge and other attributes and to become of greater value for the organization. Normally it incorporates “new hire orientation, training, career Management, and Management Development” (Cavanaugh & Cavanaugh, 2008). Development is about preparing for change in the form of new jobs, new responsibilities, or new requirements.

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Differences between training and development

Training and development are processes that attempt to provide an employee with information, skills, and an understanding of the organization and its goals. In addition, training and development are designed to help a person continue to make positive contributions in the form of good performance. The term training is often confused with the term development. Training is defined as “any attempt to improve employee performance on a currently held job or one related to it” (Cavanaugh & Kail, 2008). The key difference between training and development is that “employee development is not always directly tied to observable, behavioral change. It cultivates individuals so that their organization and work group collectively possess the competencies essential to meet present responsibilities and prepare for future ones” (Taylor, 2002). As such, training is designed to address current performance problems, whereas development focuses on preparing employees for future assignments.

Training is focus on current immediate skills and abilities enhancements that will affect have results in the employees’ job today. Training tends to be more focused on building skills and abilities for individual’s current jobs and tends to have a more short-term focus. Development is preparing the employee for a future. This imparts employees with hope for a future with the company or industry. It has a wider focus, longer time frame, and broader scope than training (Hawley, 2004).

Importance of employee Development

Employee development is the most salient aspect of organizational management towards achieving set business objectives. Qualified and competent workforce ensures that company objectives are realized through greater job outcomes. Training of employees equips them with appropriate skills and competencies to perform their duties satisfactorily (Keeton & Sheckley, 2001). This leads to quality job outcomes which meet the expectations of stakeholders and customers alike. Satisfied clients are hitherto retained. Employee training also facilitates the process of acquiring new job skills relevant for solving challenges at workplace by employees. Development of employee training programs by a company integrates a culture of responsibility and accountability amongst the workforce in line with expected standards of quality and performance. Employees are equally motivated to work on their assigned duties towards developing their careers. To this end, employee training motivates workers. Employee development plays a major role in the organizational strategy. Employees are competing more for power, status, manager’s time and opportunities for personal growth and development.

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Approaches to Employee Development

The best approaches to employee development takes into account various techniques appropriate for the composition of the workforce, the objectives need to be accomplished, and to allow for individual differences in learning styles. These approaches fall into four broad categories and many organizations combine these approaches: formal education, assessment, job experiences, and interpersonal relationships (Society, 1996).

Formal Education

Another option is tuition reimbursement. Some organizations will reimburse their employees for attending courses or earning a particular degree. This frequently, though not always, involves distance education programs. Advantages and disadvantages of off-site versus on-site approaches can be differentiated as follows:


Get to learn outside of the culture of the organization.

Get fresh perspectives.

Increases critical thinking skills.


Information taught is not always directly applicable to the industry or company the employee is in.


Information for assessment may come from the employees, their peers, managers and customers. Why would companies invest in assessment of employees? The most frequent uses of assessment are: to identify employees with managerial potential, to measure current managers’ strengths and weaknesses, and to identify managers with potential to move into higher-level executive positions (Roth well, 2010).

Methods and sources of information used in developmental assessment include: performance appraisals, psychological tests, and ratings of behaviors and style of working with others.

Tools used for assessment include: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, assessment centers, the Benchmarks assessment, performance appraisal, and 360-degree feedback (Taylor, 2002).

Developing a planning Process

Employee development should be one tool for implementing HR plans. Unfortunately, it rarely is because ED is seldom planned.

Creating a planned employee development program usually consists of many steps:

Identifying each work group in the organization:

Clarifying the group’s purpose, activities and responsibilities

Planning changes to group purpose, activities and responsibilities so that they match the desired purpose, activities and responsibilities of the work group.

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Determining how many and what kind of people are presently available in the work group.

Comparing desired human resources to available supplies.

Establishing a long term action plans for each work groups in order to narrow gaps between desired and available HR supplies through planned ED.

Identifying development needs

Choosing a development goal

Identifying the actions that need to be taken by the employee and the company to achieve the goal

Determining how progress toward goal attainment will be measured

Investing time and energy to achieve the goal

Establishing a timetable for development

Employee development is most likely to meet the organization’s needs if it is part of a human resource system of career management.

Basic career management system involves four steps:


Reality check

Goal setting

Action planning

At each step, both the employee and the organization have responsibilities.The system is most likely to be beneficial if it is linked to the organization’s objectives and needs, has support from top management, and is created with employee participation (Cavanaugh & Cavanaugh, 2008).


Maintaining human resources is a vital part of the overall management of organizations greatest resources, their human capital. This includes proper employee orientation, training and development. These will help the organization create a posture of learning and thus remain competitive in their respective markets (Society, 1996). Employees should be help accountable for the training and development that they receive and thus results should be measurable for it to be an overall success.

Effective training and development is vital part of the overall management of human resources however, in recent budget constraints it is often the first place organizations look to cut. This should be reconsidered based upon the return that an organization receives from its investment in its employees (Sims, 2001). . Training and development are critical components to successfully managing the human capital of an organization. Ongoing training and development is an investment that can help firms stimulate employee growth and maximize the competitive advantages provided by lifelong learning (First & College, 1996). There are many ways to begin, and it all doesn’t have to be done at once or in any particular order.

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