Creating a Career Development Plan for Employees

Creating a Career Development Plan for Employees

The 2022 LinkedIn Workplace Learning report revealed that employees consider learning and growth opportunities the top factor defining an exceptional work environment. Learning and development functions are transforming. As a result, future-proofing businesses by building a highly-skilled, diverse, and inclusive workforce.

More companies recognize that building a workplace that values education and career development has real value. Not only does it make employees happier, but it leads to a more skilled workforce and, ultimately, better business performance. The employee career development plan is central to this effort, a tool that allows employers and employees to set goals together.

Every employee deserves a tailored development plan to identify opportunities and objectives that will help them advance their careers. Forward-thinking employers are eager to provide that direction and help employees hone and learn new skills. The benefits to businesses and their workers are clear, and in this article, we’ll discuss what an employee development plan is and why it’s critical for your business.

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What is an Employee Development Plan?

An employee development plan is a method of identifying individual professional goals for employees. Goals can include many things, including learning certain skills, achieving a promotion, and gaining technical knowledge. The purpose is for employees and employers to come together and collaborate on a plan that results in mutual success.

Career development plans should detail the opportunities and guidance employees will receive to help them achieve their objectives. It is increasingly clear that most employees seek to develop skills, knowledge, and abilities at work, but development plans cannot be one-size-fits-all. To be effective, development plans must be tailored to an individual’s needs and interests while reflecting the employer’s goal for the team. When done correctly, a career development plan improves employee performance, motivates them, and helps build relationships within an organization.

Executing an employee development plan requires long-term buy-in from the employee and business. The business must make opportunities such as mentorship programs, training sessions, and professional workshops available and the employee must be willing to complete them. These activities are valuable resources that can help employees learn skills that apply to their current and future positions.

Benefits of an Employee Development Plan

The face of work is changing thanks to remote positions, globalization, and the increasing presence of millennials and Gen Z within the workforce. Adapting to the demands of the modern workplace is challenging, but businesses can’t afford to remain inactive. Career development plans are critical to businesses that want to stay competitive and modern.

Here is a list of the most significant benefits of career development plans to organizations and their employees:

Better employee retention

Keeping employees happy and fulfilled is more crucial than ever. The cost of losing experienced employees and hiring new ones continues to grow. With more workers willing to jump from job to job, businesses must find ways to differentiate themselves and retain talent. Career development plans demonstrate to existing employees and prospects that your business is serious about helping them learn new skills and advance their careers.

Promoting a culture of learning and growth

Employee development plans also help employers establish a culture of continuous learning and improvement within the organization. It’s an excellent way for organizations to identify areas where employees might benefit from additional training or education while preparing them for future roles.

Helping identify and nurture employee talent

These plans help employees expand their knowledge and skillset while strengthening existing abilities. Therefore, career development can improve an organization’s overall performance by enabling employees to contribute better to organizational objectives

Types of Career Development Plans

Employee development plans benefit organizations and employees by ensuring a well-trained and highly productive workforce. However, you won’t get away with only one type of plan. In fact, there are several types of plans, each reflecting employees’ unique needs and goals.

For example, an employee working towards a promotion in their business function will have very different goals from someone trying to change their professional field altogether. Each employee deserves a plan tailored to their career goals so they can move their career forward while assisting the business. Two common types of career development plans include:


A performance development plan is often used to help employees struggling to carry out their job duties (commonly known as a performance improvement plan). However, any employee can benefit from having defined goals and objectives tied to their performance. A performance-based plan should be a collaborative effort between the organization and the employee. It’s vital that the goals of the individual align with the overall business strategy. When done right, this type of plan can improve productivity while introducing new opportunities to employees that teach them new skills. 

Succession planning

Most established businesses have a defined structure and hierarchy within their respective business units. Employees inevitably develop new skills and outperform their jobs, so it’s crucial to have a roadmap that details how they will continue to grow with the organization. A succession plan allows an organization to demonstrate its commitment to employees. It also shows employees the senior roles they can strive to reach over time.

How to Develop a Career Plan for Employees

Building a career plan should be a straightforward process guided by three key elements. These are as follows:

  • Strengths and weaknesses: When starting a career plan, you and the employee should identify the skills and job responsibilities they should improve and those at which they excel. Work together to understand how they can get better and how this applies to their career path.
  • Goals: The purpose of the program is to help an employee advance their career while serving business needs. At the heart of the plan are the short- and long-term objectives for the employee to achieve, including any career-related knowledge or skills they must develop.
  • Training and development: By creating a career plan, you are committing to your employee’s professional development. The plan should outline the educational activities and programs you will offer to help them reach their goals.

Here are the five steps you can follow to build a career development plan for employees:

  1. Define your organization’s needs and objectives

Companies hire employees to fill a specific need that ties back to the larger business strategy. Creating a career development plan helps employees gain new skills and positions them to serve the company better. When preparing the plan, you must identify how the employee can help the organization meet its goals.

  1. Identify the employee’s career goals

Development plans only work if they mutually benefit the company and employees. You must work with the employee to understand what they hope to get from their career development. The plan should serve as a clear roadmap that guides the employee as they work to meet their goals. 

  1. Create a plan that includes both sets of goals

The manager or supervisor should prepare the first draft of the employee development plan, doing their best to ensure it includes the mutually agreed upon goals of both the organization and the employee. Allow the employee to review and confirm the plan correctly identifies their development goals.

  1. Select training methods and tools

Adequate training and education opportunities are essential to employee success and job satisfaction. Typical professional development resources and programs include webinars, job shadowing, mentorship programs, training sessions, and workshops. These are excellent methods for helping employees learn skills to serve them and the organization.

  1. Evaluate and improve

Completing a development plan requires time, effort, and resources. It’s as much a commitment from the business as from the employee. As with all business processes, measuring the program’s effectiveness is essential to ensure both parties benefit. Whether through direct feedback to their mentor or supervisor or performance reviews, the employee should have regular opportunities to discuss the career plan and revise accordingly.

All parties must benefit from the process. That is the most important thing to remember when creating and assessing an employee development plan.


Employee development is more important than ever before. Employees want to learn. They want to be skilled professionals that are knowledgeable in their disciplines and they want to work for organizations that are invested in their success. Career development plans illustrate employer commitment to their team and are a great way to build loyalty and increase retention.

Give them a voice, work together on their development plan, and provide them with the necessary resources to reach their goals. Creating a highly-skilled, enthusiastic staff will only benefit your organization, raising morale and productivity to new heights.

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About the Author

Erin Aldridge, PMP, PMI-ACP, & CSPO

Director of Product Development at Project Management Academy

Detail-oriented business professional with fifteen years experience in the customer service, project management and finance industry. Dedicated to helping make a positive impact at the organizations with which I partner.

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