Products and services are a key part of any business, but really, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. 

The true success of any company comes from the people within the organization. The employees are the foundation that keeps the business stable while it grows.

The real secret to success, and keeping your employees happy, is with an employee development plan.

How Does an Employee Development Plan Help Workers Grow?

In the simplest terms, an employee development plan is a documented program offered to workers by their employer to help them grow professionally. This includes training opportunities, upskilling through classes, mentorship and facilitating communication. A successful employee development plan will be customizable and holistic.

It’s best to look at the worker as an individual and tailor the program to their specific needs. While one person may be interested in upskilling with leadership fundamentals, another may shy away from management work and be more interested in growing their technical skills. The employee’s manager should have a good handle on what their employees want and shape their development program to help them grow.

The best employee development plans view the workers holistically according to the tech marketplace giant G2. That means that employees can’t just be shuttled off to an off-campus class two times a year. Instead, think about each employee as a whole person with a range of needs. Things like work-life balance, physical health, growth opportunities, socialization and communication are all important parts of a worker’s happiness within the company. Addressing each of these needs is key.

Employee Development Plans Keep Workers Happy

The best way to scale and find success as a company is to keep your current employees around for the long term. According to, “the business benefits of promoting from within include saving money, keeping employee morale high and a shorter learning curve.” While salary and benefits are a big part of what makes workers happy, a culture of continual learning plays a big part and aids retention.

In fact, a recent PwC report found that over 77% of employees wanted to upskill. After all, why would an employee go through the stress of finding a new job when they can develop their careers where they already are? 

Keeping your employees from having to experience the stress of job seeking is a gift in and of itself. The best way to do that is to help them grow right where they are.

Upskilling Is a Key Ingredient to a Great Employee Development Plan

The biggest part of an employee development plan is helping your workers grow. According to a West Monroe report, 60% of surveyed employees think their current skill set will be outdated in the next three to five years. Upskilling — training your employees with the latest skills for the workplace — is a huge part of growth and can, potentially, lead to millions in savings and more satisfied employees.

For example, Udacity engaged with one of the big four professional services organizations and provided customized programs to help upskill their employees in cutting-edge technologies and prepare them for next-generation roles. 

Through this successful engagement, the professional services organization was able to increase its employee retention rate by ~5%. 

This resulted in over $2 million in savings — which otherwise would have been spent on external hiring, and a 19 point increase in employee satisfaction score. 

How to Make Upskilling Happen

To facilitate upskilling, first identify where there are skill gaps. Then, look for people with an interest in learning those skills and offer to train them, either internally or externally. 

Next, start a mentorship program where the people who were upskilled first can mentor the next round of people, and so on. Not only does this help employees gain new skills, but it also encourages cross-department collaboration, communication and socializing.

Additionally, upskilling typically allows for employees to quickly apply their new learnings to their current work. Outside hires require training and time to fully understand new systems, which means it can take some time before you begin to see results. 

Training current employees gives them the satisfaction of seeing results from their new skills almost immediately. In fact, you might be surprised at how many of your current employees already have ideas for improvements, and simply need the skills to match.

Start Developing Your Employees

If you’re interested in beginning an employee development plan, get in touch with our Enterprise team today to start the process. Udacity offers a catalog of Nanodegree programs featuring the latest in tech advances that can get your employees upskilled in no time.

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