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Best Employee Development Methods That Will Let Your Team Grow

Category: B2B News
What are the best employee development methods?

The best training methods are mentoring, stretch assignments, and coaching. Mentoring and coaching help in the direct transfer of knowledge and experience following the classic teacher-student format, while stretch assignments are used for developing future leaders.

Employees are the most important asset of any business. This is why investing in human resources is crucial to success and sustainable business growth. And a highly-reliable way is investing in one or several employee development methods.

Generally, businesses go through great lengths to attract and hire the best talents available. However, the focus on caring for employees, in many instances, stops there. Once they’re on board, unfortunately, they’re usually left on their own.

So how can businesses adequately address their employees’ needs while at the same time ensure their operational success? We’ve gathered 9 of today’s best employee development methods for you to consider. And, for good measure, we’ve included awesome employee development examples of world-class organizations that you can try in your workplace.

Methods for Developing Employees

Businesses must refrain from considering training and development as a one-time process. Instead, training should be implemented as a continuous process. Evidently, the benefits of employee development are not confined to any generation. 

This is why most people prefer working in companies with great training and development policies. In fact, 35% of millennials consider training and development to be more important than salary.

Aside from addressing the current skills gap, investing in your employees’ development is an essential aspect of staff retention. As a matter of fact, 94% of employees would stay longer at companies that invest in their professional development.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of companies are starting to recognize the mounting issue of retaining high-potential employees early in their careers. Fifty-two percent of businesses said they already have a development program to address this issue. Likewise, another 30% are planning to implement such a program within a year.

Strategies for retaining employees

Investing in quality employee development programs is more cost-effective than hiring new employees. This is because retaining employees costs far less than replacing them with new talent. Moreover, the internal adverse impact of employee turnover is more serious.

Fortunately, there are effective ways of preventing your valuable talents from leaving. And employee development is on top of that list. In fact, American companies invest considerably in training, to the tune of $4.5 billion on average.

So, as business competition continues to intensify, advancing your team’s performance has never been more imperative. Therefore, you should make employee development an essential element of your business and the workforce that propels it.

Why is employee development important?

Survival in the cutthroat labor market entails the need for every worker to always have updated knowledge and skills. Because by not being abreast of the latest know-how in one’s field, one’s marketability decreases significantly. 

Employee development is a process where employees undergo employer-supported training programs. In general, this process seeks to provide skills and knowledge enhancements. It can likewise cover other management functions such as talent recruitment, selection, procedures, and policies.

As such, these programs are considered as a joint growth initiative between an employer and employees. Employee development helps in forming and nurturing human assets to increase their efficiency and reliability. It also helps nurture a sense of attachment towards the organization.

Moreover, since human resources play a key role in any business, employee development is a powerful force in improving the bottom line. It drives a company’s earning potentials such as through increased productivity, better customer satisfaction, etc. That’s why HR managers tend to advance such proficiencies by leveraging technology to support employee development.

An emerging HR practice is the use of a learning management system like Docebo. It is a good illustration of how technology is boosting employee development these days. No longer location-limited, today’s training can happen anywhere, thanks to cloud computing and strong internet connection. For instance, Docebo, a cloud-based learning platform, simplifies employee e-learning, from program delivery to tracking of training outcomes even as you manage a remote workforce. 

Docebo also supports mobile learning via its Go.Learn app, which allows field employees and mobile workforce access your training materials and complete the course from their iOS or Android device. Its LMS system supports all forms of learning, including social and blended learning, and allows customizable reports and analytics, depending on your organizational structure.

You can easily try out this robust learning platform to see how technology can enhance your training strategy. Simply sign up for Docebo free trial here.

docebo dashboard

1. Mentoring

Mentoring involves the matching of a newbie or less experienced employees with more experienced colleagues. This matching may either be through formal or informal mentoring programs.

Unquestionably, the benefits of formal mentoring programs are many. For instance, it can improve recruitment and lessen employee turnover. Likewise, it can enhance the performance of the entire workplace.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most utilized employee development programs because of its proven efficiency. But to be effective, a mentoring program should observe a number of best practices.

How to conduct effective mentoring programs

  • First, mentees should be matched with a suitable mentor. The matching should be based on skills and development requirements.
  • Specific objectives and goals should be outlined and monitored.
  • Allocate the minimum time that both parties can commit.
  • Monitor the mentoring relationship. You can use a reliable HR software to automate this task.
  • Make both mentors and mentees accountable.
  • Connect mentoring to overall employee development strategy and objectives.
  • integrate mentoring activities to overall business goals and strategies.

Organizational Impact of Having a Formal Mentoring Culture

Source: Development Dimensions International, 2018

Designed by

Mentoring Use Cases

  • General Electric. GE has its Commercial Leadership Program, a two-year mentoring program for its sales and marketing employees. Mentees will be subjected to challenging roles to develop critical skills like initiative-taking and leadership.
  • Deloitte. Its Emerging Leaders Development Program involves mentoring staff from minority areas by company executives.
  • Boeing. Early-career employees can undertake Boeing’s rotational program, where they will be paired with senior managers or executives. This is a two-year mentoring program that aims to make younger employees become future leaders of the company.

2. Stretch Assignments

Stretch assignments and similar on-the-job training projects give employees a chance to learn while doing real work. These developmental job assignments allow employees to enhance their competencies needed for higher work positions.

Basically, a stretch assignment is a particular task given to allow an employee to learn other things outside his/her regular duties. So when employees work on stretch assignments, they are practically taken out of their comfort zone. But in the process, they enhance their proficiencies by taking on novel challenges.

What’s more, this program underscores the value of having the right experiences to drive one’s eligibility for upward mobility. However, many employees are unaware of which experiences can best prepare them for work advancement. Still, experts say that employees with the right experiences are more likely to succeed.

Gender-based differences in stretch assignments


Stretch Assignments Use Cases

  • Yelp. At Yelp, every employee has stretch functions. The company believes that giving people responsibilities slightly outside their existing capacities helps build an engaged workforce. Because these facilitate internal promotions, stretch assignments also incentivize employees to develop themselves and others.
  • Hallmark Cards. This company’s stretch assignments require employees to step outside of their usual responsibilities and take on challenging new tasks, projects or roles. As a result, they can develop new skill sets, knowledge, and networks.
  • SAP. The company’s Social Sabbatical program is an innovative learning opportunity. It enables SAP employees to share their time and talent to help entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed.

3. Coaching

Coaching involves a more skilled or experienced employee providing a colleague with guidance and advice. Its purpose is to help an employee to improve performance by gaining new skills. Ultimately, coaching seeks to help enhance the career quality of an employee

Although many tend to interchange mentoring and coaching, the two are actually different. For instance, coaching is customized per situation and is more personalized. Likewise, it has a specific business goal and is often completed over a period of time. Moreover,  coaching must be handled like any other strategic objective.

Meanwhile, a successful employee coaching program has a number of requirements. First, it needs a solid commitment from the person being coached and the company. Second, it requires a formal plan to reach the intended outcomes. Third, there should be qualified and driven coaches. Lastly, a follow-up evaluation must be regularly conducted.

Internal Reasons Why Organizations Use Coaching

To improve individual performance/productivity


To address leadership development/succession planning


To increase individual worker skill levels


To improve organizational performance


To address specific workplace problems


To boost employee engagement


To improve retention rates


Source: American Management Association, 2019

Designed by

Coaching Use Cases

  • Campbell Soup. The company offers one of the most popular coaching programs for over a decade now. It uses three effective coaching methods. These are the Skills/Will Matrix, G.R.O.W. Model and Situation-Behavior-Impact.
  • Google. Since 2010, the tech giant’s Career Guru program enables employees to receive one-on-one support from seasoned Google alumni.
  • W.W. Grainger. The American manufacturer’s First-Time Managers program developed peer coaching skills among company alumni that helped in the sharing of their experiences with upcoming managers.

4. Cross-Training

Cross-training involves training employees to perform jobs they’re not typically assigned to perform. This development program can be short-term and temporary or a continuous, planned process. 

Employers consider cross-training as an important HR strategy. This is due to the efficiencies it brings, compared to hiring new talents.

Generally, cross-training doesn’t quickly result in some promotion but helps in preparing for such a move. Nonetheless, having such skill diversity may help an employee meet qualifications for later career advancement.

Moreover, cross-training programs must start with two fundamental steps. First is making a shortlist of the skills and knowledge necessary for each job position. Second is cross-referencing that list with an inventory of existing workforce proficiencies.

Cross-training Use Cases

  • Panopto. This popular video platform for businesses vendor encourages employers to emphasize the enrichment and developmental aspects of cross-training to get teams excited to learn.
  • Intek Solutions. This consulting agency encourages employers to carefully choose which employees to include since it could do more harm than good. It advises firms to talk to employees about what they want to learn and get their commitment before creating any cross-training plan.
  • Pro Staff. This firm suggests a few random hours of cross-training, which is the best approach. This helps in preventing adverse effects on employee productivity while cross-training. Extending the training process also allows time for new information to be absorbed.

5. Job Rotation Programs

Job shadowing offers another great way to learn the core aspects of other jobs while expanding one’s job competencies. Likewise, it provides a formal approach to explore possible career directions within the company.

This development program involves an employee, called a shadower, accompanying a co-worker the whole day. And since shadowers see from an entirely new perspective, they learn firsthand from challenges that employees experience in other business units.

Meanwhile, a rotational program is an organized movement of staff from one job to another within a company. And this entails giving your employees the change to move around one or several positions for skills development purposes.

Moreover, rotations vary in duration, as they can last for a few days to several months or even years. They may also differ in the level of formality. Albeit large enterprises are more likely to employ job rotations, businesses of any size should consider this program because of its many advantages.

Job shadowing & rotation advantages & disadvantages

Job Shadowing Use Cases

  • ManTech. The IT contractor’s Mobility Program helps its engaged employees take on new challenges or work locations. Its shadowing program uses a customized process that smoothly transitions them to their next career opportunity.
  • Deloitte. This global professional services firm actively rotates staff across its over 150 offices worldwide. Because of this opportunity, numerous Deloitte employees can enjoy visiting beautiful sites everywhere as they do their jobs. Moreover, arrangements can vary from short-term project to long-term foreign transfer.

6. Succession Planning

Succession planning is an employee program that basically involves two distinct parts. First is that it identifies the long-term needs of an organization. Second, it explores and develops existing human assets to address those needs.

In essence, succession planning advocates internal talent development for high-level positions. With this purpose in mind, companies dig deep into its talent roster to prepare employees for bigger responsibilities.

Another key point is that succession plans do not use any pre-selection criteria. On the contrary, employees are prepared for several years for upcoming roles.

Generally, employers and HR experts see succession planning as a very complicated process. Typically, it is confined only to large enterprises with the best resources and systems to support such a process. However, succession planning is also possible among SMBs as it doesn’t require considerable resources.

Common mistakes in succession planning

Succession Planning Use Cases

  • Apple. Apple has a distinct and robust succession model founded on technology innovation and leadership. Before stepping down as CEO, Steve Jobs prepared his succession plan by establishing the Apple University. It exists to teach Apple employees how to think like Jobs and decide similarly as he would.
  • Microsoft. This IT giant’s program, Talent Talks, is a performance review, development, and succession planning process. It represents a progressive outlook to innovate the present and to build the future. This program, likewise, creates open discussions among employees, with real purpose and business value.

7. Job Enrichment

Job enrichment entails extending an employee’s job by adding more duties and tasks that usually have similar complexities. In effect, this program creates more significance to an employee’s job through increased discretion, responsibility, and control.

Because people feel important when given more roles to play, they are more likely to exert extra effort. In general, job enrichment opportunities are commonly found in companies that seek to enhance an existing role while building new ways to grow.

Meanwhile, one of the benefits of job enrichment is reduced absence days or turnover of employees. Next is reduced hiring and training costs due to low employee turnover. Others include improved corporate morale and increased productivity.

Moreover, implementing job enrichment is by itself a complicated employee development plan. To simplify this complex process, it’s best to use a reliable talent management software.

Average spending for new hire, USA

Job Enrichment Use Cases

  • Restaurant employees. Some examples are chefs, bartenders, cooks, serving staff,  and cashiers.
  • Manufacturing jobs. These include foremen, quality control, machine operators, machinists, and tool-makers.
  • Skilled Trades. Carpenters, painters, woodworkers, electricians, and plumbers are examples of these.

8. Online Employee Development

While companies use classroom-based learning for topics unique to their business, online learning is utilized for general topics. Still, online training offers the convenience of on-demand, self-directed learning. Thus, employees undertaking online learning programs have more control over their time than being in a classroom setup.

And to keep employees engaged, online development content must be delivered in small parts to allow for easy understanding. What’s more, employees must appreciate how the learning content will help them perform their jobs better.

How to successfully implement online learning

Expert assistance abound when it comes to providing eLearning to your employees. Aside from seeking professional help and deploying reliable technology, here are some effective tips:

  • Choose topics directly relevant to particular business objectives.
  • Provide introductory training to enable employees to know the basics of using online training platforms.
  • Offer online support and quick access to additional resources.

Meanwhile, online employee development programs are enhanced when you use a virtual data room software. This is ideal when training distributed teams worldwide.

Online Employee Development Use Case

  • Toyota. Toyota Motor Europe has been using eLearning to train over 18.000 motor technicians and engineers since 2005. The company upgraded to the latest version of its LMS in 2013 to provide continuous training without having to be re-certified. The platform offers learning materials for dozens of distributors and hundreds of retail outlets in over 50 countries.
  • Shell. The training program involves an online portal, known as Shell Open University. It offers a wide range of practical, commercial and technical learning tools. Employees have unlimited access to online courses, webcasts, e-books, and guides. They evaluate their own knowledge, capabilities, and competency both before and after completing the program. Moreover, Shell will reimburse the money and time spent on further employee learning if the corporate curriculum is insufficient.

9. Continuing Education

Learning is a life-long journey. This basic human need transcends cultural and geographic boundaries. This is one of the most accepted employee development ideas in any industry and country.

The trend toward higher degree attainment requirements in the American job market will continue. In this light, the number of employees taking educational upgrades while rendering full-time work is expected to increase. As a result, employers across industries continue to at least urge continuing education throughout the whole work cycle.

Meanwhile, employers Like SAS and Amazon encourage continuing education by enabling employees’ work schedules and shouldering tuition costs. These employer initiatives make possible formal education attendance without leaving one’s job.

How Companies in Different Countries Spend for Employee Education Assistance

United States






United Kingdom






Source: Korn Ferry 2019

Designed by

Continuing Education Use Case

  • Amazon. Before hiring, this ecommerce giant offers an extensive, month-long training and leadership program. Likewise, Amazon advances the payment for 95% of tuition for fulfillment center employees to take courses on in-demand fields. Further, the company trains employees to work from home via its Virtual Contact Center.
  • Pitney Bowes. With the help of Udemy for Business, the company trains its distributed engineering team. Each employee has a lifetime curriculum access, with self-paced periodic tests. Moreover, staff can select which program is most relevant to their particular technical roles and training needs. What’s more, employees can take extra courses on other courses such as personal development.

How do you encourage employee development?

Successful businesses incorporate their employee development programs into their overall strategy. This will ensure that all employee development processes across the organization are moving toward the same goals. These guidelines can help HR make better plans for their employee development programs:

  • Earn executive support. HR must have the complete backing of company executives. This will help ensure funding and support from top management.
  • Gain management involvement. Once you’ve won executive support, management will likely follow suit. Managers ensure that the employee development strategy will be implemented in actual situations.
  • Integrate with performance management. HR must clearly communicate how the development program relates to performance management.
  • Leverage technology. Always integrate learning management tools for every employee development activity for optimal outcomes.
  • Understand what’s important to employees. HR should know what every employee values and its relevance to the employee’s development needs. This will significantly affect the kind of development programs to be provided.
  • Know the intended results. HR must clearly understand the set of skills to be improved for each employee development initiative.

Failure to observe the tips above will likely reduce the program’s efficiency for employees and the company. On the other hand, leveraging technology will help you enhance employee development and increase its success rate. As such, it’s best to always be in the know about the latest LMS and elearning statistics.

By Louie Andre

B2B & SaaS market analyst and senior writer for FinancesOnline. He is most interested in project management solutions, believing all businesses are a work in progress. No stranger to small business hiccups and drama, having been involved in a few internet startups. Prior to his for-profit ventures, he has had managed corporate communications for a Kansas City-based Children International unit.

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