4 Efficient Employee Development Plan Examples (+ Templates)
Interviews / Opinions

4 Efficient Employee Development Plan Examples (+ Templates)

, Content Marketing Manager

Today, new technologies emerge at lightning speed. Skills requirements evolve. Competition for top talent is fierce. In this ever-shifting landscape, how can organizations ensure agile and adaptable employees?

The answer: employee development plans. Employee development plans are no longer optional extras. They’re a strategic necessity if you’re looking to cultivate a future-proof workforce.

They provide a roadmap for continuous learning and growth for employees to develop the skills and knowledge to keep up and thrive.

Whether you’re a seasoned HR professional or a manager looking to empower your team, harnessing the power of employee development plans will help you build a stronger, more successful organization. So what exactly is an employee development plan? And how do you build one?

To answer these questions and look at some employee development plan examples. Plus, you’ll get your very own templates to help you get started.

What you’ll find in this article:

1. What is an employee development plan?

2. Why are development plans important for professional development?

3. 4 employee development plan examples and templates

4. A step-by-step guide for creating employee development plans

5. Tailoring employee development plans for individual success

What is an employee development plan?

An employee development plan, or employee growth plan, is a roadmap that outlines an employee’s growth trajectory within a company.

It lets the employee and their manager (or HR) work together on career development. They identify goals, skills, and knowledge they need to succeed in their current role. And to advance in their career.

Both employers and employees benefit from employee development planning. They help employers build a stronger, more skilled workforce prepared to tackle future challenges.

For employees, employee development plans provide a clear path for professional growth, increasing their engagement, job satisfaction, and overall value to the company. (We’ll go into more detail on the specific benefits in a minute).

A well-crafted employee development plan is:

  • Individualized. Tailor employee development plans to the specific employee’s needs, strengths, and career aspirations.
  • Goal-oriented. Set clear, measurable goals that align with both the employee’s development and the company’s objectives.
  • Actionable. Good employee development plans outline specific steps to help the employee achieve their goals.
  • Collaborative. Employees and managers work together to develop plans, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
  • Regularly reviewed. You should review employee development plans periodically to track progress and make adjustments.

4 Efficient Employee Development Plan Examples (+ Templates)

Why are development plans important for professional development?

An employee development plan is much more than just a piece of HR paperwork. It’s a strategic investment in both your employees and your company’s future.

It provides a clear path, setting career goals and putting them into action for growth and development.

Here are some of the biggest benefits you’ll get from this investment.

Employee development plan benefits: For employees

Increased engagement and satisfaction

Employee development plans show employees you’re invested in their long-term success. They help people see a future for themselves within the organization.

Plus, 77% of employees report that learning new skills provides a sense of purpose at work. Learning opportunities help them feel more motivated, engaged, and satisfied in their jobs.

Enhanced skills and knowledge

An employee development plan develops the skills and knowledge people need in their current roles. It can also help them look to the future and prepare to take on new challenges.

This proactive approach to skill building gives them more confidence in their work. And a greater sense of accomplishment as they see their progress.

More career advancement opportunities. Employee development plans provide a clear roadmap for career advancement. With an outline of specific goals and development steps, employees can see the path they need to take to move up within the company.

Greater marketability

The skills and knowledge people gain through employee development plans also benefit them outside their current roles. They make them more marketable in the job market, both within and outside the company.

Employee development plan benefits: For organizations

Improved performance and productivity

Intentional L&D planning leads to a more skilled and knowledgeable workforce. These skills translate into improved performance, increased productivity, and better problem-solving abilities.

Reduced skill gaps

A good employee development plan helps you identify and address skill gaps early. When you anticipate and prepare for your needs, you ensure you have the workforce you need to meet future challenges.

Better innovation

Employee development plans are part of a culture of continuous learning. When employees value learning, innovation and creativity get a boost.

Higher employee retention rates

Employees who see your company invest in their growth are more satisfied. Which means they’re more likely to stay with you longer. You’ll save significant time and money on recruiting and training new employees.

Stronger employer brand

In today’s competitive job market, candidates value an employer that prioritizes growth. A commitment to employee development helps build your employer brand so you can attract and retain top talent.

4 employee development plan examples & templates: Putting it into action

Employee development plans come in all shapes and sizes. It all depends on you and the employee’s specific needs. However, four common types of employee development programs will cover almost any scenario.

Let’s take a look at each type and the different use cases they cover. We’ll also share some examples of how each can be tailored to different situations, plus templates you can use to get you started.

1. Employee development plan examples: Skill development plan

This type of plan focuses on honing a specific skill crucial to the employee’s current role. It fills skill gaps, improves the employee’s proficiency, and brings them up to speed with evolving technologies and processes.


Skill Development Plan

A software engineer’s employee development plan focused on mastering a new programming language. The plan might include activities such as:

  • Enrolling in a comprehensive online course on the new language
  • Working on internal projects that use the new language under the guidance of a senior developer
  • Obtaining a recognized industry certification to confirm proficiency

Want to nurture a team member’s specific skill further? Click to get started with our skill development plan template.

2. Employee development plan examples: Leadership development plan

Leadership development plans prepare high-potential employees for future leadership positions. They help you prepare your top performers to take on bigger roles.

They show employees that you’re invested in their future. Plus, this type of employee development plan ensures your executive team has the right leadership skills.


Leadership Development Plan

A customer service representative with strong interpersonal and problem-solving abilities shows leadership potential. Their employee development plan could involve:

  • Participating in employee training designed to hone leadership competencies and soft skills like communication, strategic thinking, and conflict resolution
  • Participating in cross-functional teams to gain a broader understanding of the organization and how different departments work together
  • Getting feedback from the employee’s manager and colleagues to identify their current skill set, their leadership strengths, and areas for improvement

Is a team member demonstrating leadership qualities? Click to get started with our leadership development plan template.

3. Employee development plan examples: Career advancement plan

This development program helps employees transition into a new role within the company.

These may be upward moves (e.g., into leadership or managerial roles) or more lateral moves (to a different team or department within the company).

The plan will outline steps to gain the specific skill sets and experience required for the new role.

It will open doors to new opportunities and allow your team members to explore their interests and keep their work engaging.


Career Advancement Plan

A graphic designer with a passion for user experience (UX) design wants to make a career shift. To help them move to a UX role, you might develop an employee development plan that involves:

  • A skill gap analysis to determine the employee’s current skill set and identify the skills and knowledge still needed
  • Online courses, workshops, or certifications focused on UX design principles, user research methods, and UX prototyping tools
  • Shadowing a UX designer in the company to gain insights into the day-to-day work and receive ongoing mentorship

An ambitious team member looking for career advancement? Click to get started with our career advancement plan template.

4. Employee development plan examples: Ad-hoc development plan

This about creating an employee development plan based on the employee’s own interests. It addresses something the individual wants to learn. The interest may not be required for their role. But could contribute to their performance and foster innovation.


Ad-Hoc Development Plan

A customer service representative with a knack for writing expresses an interest in learning content marketing. Development plan ideas could include:

  • Taking online courses to understand content marketing fundamentals. Things like content strategies, audience engagement techniques, and search engine optimization (SEO) principles.
  • Partnering with the marketing team to develop engaging content for customer service channels, such as FAQs or blog posts.
  • Opportunities to share their newfound knowledge with colleagues through internal workshops or presentations.

Is a team member interested in exploring a new skill? Click to get started with our ad-hoc development plan template.

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A step-by-step guide for creating employee development plans

An effective employee development plan isn’t created in a vacuum. It takes planning. While each plan will be different (like the above employee development examples), there is a basic structure for building a plan that works.

The key is to create a plan that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). One that aligns with both the employee’s aspirations and the company’s goals.

Think of the following steps as an employee development plan template that will ensure your development efforts benefit both you and the employee.

Step 1: Align with business goals

Before diving into individual development needs, take a step back. Analyze the company’s strategic objectives. Then identify future skill requirements for your team or department.

Consider factors like upcoming product launches, new market expansions, or anticipated technological advancements.

Aligning the employee development plan with the company’s bigger picture benefits you in more than one way. It ensures the employee’s development contributes to the organization’s success.

This not only strengthens the business. It also demonstrates to the employee that you value their growth. It shows them that they contribute to a larger purpose.

For example, say your company plans to expand into e-commerce. An employee development plan for a marketing associate might prioritize developing skills in online marketing strategies.

Step 2: Assess employee skills

Assess the employee’s skills to help you determine areas for development. You can run a skills gap analysis, and conduct assessments. Be sure to involve the employee in self-assessment.

This can mean completing a self-assessment questionnaire where they reflect on their strengths, weaknesses, and career aspirations. Self-awareness is crucial for effective development initiatives.

When employees take part in assessing their needs, they become more invested in achieving their goals. This two-way dialogue fosters a sense of ownership. It empowers the employee to take the lead in their professional development plans.

Step 3: Collaborate on goal setting

Have managers and employees work together to set employee development goals. Involving both parties benefits your planning in two ways:

  1. It promotes alignment and ownership. Collaborative goal setting gets both the employee and manager on the same page about what the plan should achieve. The employee also feels a sense of ownership over the goals they helped create. They’ll be more motivated and committed to achieving them.
  2. It ensures goals are feasible and relevant. The manager understands the company’s needs and the employee’s workload. So they can offer valuable suggestions to refine the goals to make sure they’ll have an impact on results. And that they’re achievable.

Collaboration is key to creating a motivating and effective employee career development plan. You can help employees understand the process by offering training in career planning. Help them understand the purposes and procedure so they can participate fully.

Step 4: Identify development activities

With the goals set, it’s time to brainstorm the specific activities to help the employee achieve them. List all the resources you think could be useful for helping the employee reach their goals.

These might include internal employee training programs. Or connecting the employee with a more senior colleague who can provide ongoing coaching and support.

You might also include on-the-job projects as part of the plan. For instance, you could assign the employee work that requires them to apply the new skills they learn. Practical application is a way to learn quickly as they gain valuable experience.

Also consider external resources like workshops, online courses, or conferences. Some companies have programs that help pay for industry certifications or tuition reimbursement for college courses.

Development activities are the building blocks that turn goals into reality. A well-rounded selection gives the employee access to the resources and opportunities they need.

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Step 5: Make an action plan

Once you’ve identified the development activities, put the ideas into action. Here you determine what steps the employee will take and allot the necessary resources. This might mean budgeting for employee training programs or scheduling time off for conferences. Or securing access to specific software or tools.

You’ll also need to establish realistic timelines for achieving each goal as well as indicators of success to ensure progress is measurable. Take the employee’s workload and the complexity of the development activities into account as you fill out the calendar.

Resource allocation demonstrates the company’s commitment to the employee’s development efforts. Without proper resources, achieving goals becomes an uphill battle. Timelines keep everyone accountable. They also keep employee progress on track and within a reasonable timeframe.

Step 6: Monitor progress and review

An employee development plan isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it document. Schedule regular check-ins as the employee progresses through the plan.

Regular monitoring and review keep the employee development plan relevant and effective.
Life circumstances, company priorities, and the employee’s career aspirations can change over time.

Checking in helps your development plan continue to support growth. It also keeps it aligned with the company’s evolving needs.

Schedule regular meetings with the employee (e.g., monthly or quarterly) to discuss progress. During these meetings:

  • Discuss the employee’s experience with the development activities. Are they finding them helpful and engaging?
  • Review progress toward established goals. Do you need to adjust timelines or the development activities themselves?
  • Address any challenges or roadblocks. How can you provide additional support or resources?
  • Explore the employee’s career goals. Have their goals shifted since the initial plan was created?

Bonus tips for a winning employee development program

Encourage open communication. Create a safe space for the employee to voice their concerns or frustrations about the development plan.

Celebrate successes. Acknowledge the employee’s progress and achievements, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement keeps them motivated and engaged.

Be flexible. Be prepared to adapt the plan as needed. New opportunities or unforeseen challenges may mean adjustments to the goals or development activities.

Beyond the checklist: Tailoring employee development plans for individual success

Employee development planning encourages a culture of continuous learning. The most impactful plans go beyond a generic checklist. They’re tailored to individual employees’ needs and aspirations.

Take the time to understand the employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and career goals. It will help you create a meaningful and motivating career development path.

A development plan for employees should be a collaborative effort. After all, you have a stake in the outcomes too. But first and foremost, they should focus on the individual.

Effective employee development plans are an investment in your most valuable asset—your people. Equipping employees with the skills and knowledge to succeed creates a more engaged, productive, and innovative workforce. This translates into a stronger, more competitive organization.

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Marialena Kanaki - Content Marketing Manager

Marialena hates talking about herself in the third person. She loves to inspire people with authenticity. And she prioritizes that in all her content—without the need for smoke and mirrors.

Marialena Kanaki LinkedIn

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