The key to business success? Investing in your most valuable tool — your employees. Following the best practices in workforce development, leaders can build an optimized and motivated workforce that directly impacts their bottom line. 

Adapting and growing as an organization is more critical than ever. At the heart of this adaptability is your workforce. As businesses learn to cope with changes driven by technological advancements, globalization, and shifting market demands, investing in workforce development is no longer optional. 

Whether you’re aiming to enhance employee engagement, boost productivity, or drive sustainable growth, you need to embrace workforce development. This article will explain the importance of workforce development, identify best practices, and then teach you how to implement effective workforce development strategies.

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What is workforce development?

Workforce development is the process of ensuring a company’s employees have the skills, knowledge, and abilities they need to do their jobs well and help the company succeed. 

Workforce development involves: 

  • Training programs and courses
  • Continuing education opportunities
  • Succession planning and career pathing
  • Mentorship programs 
  • Leadership development
  • OKR and goal-setting initiatives

With workforce development, employees can become more skilled and confident, which can then make business more robust, more competitive, and more adaptable to a constantly changing market.

Most importantly, this strategy helps with employee engagement, productivity, and retention — all of which directly impact profits. You heard that right. Focusing on workforce development (though time-consuming) can positively affect your bottom line

Let’s look at some of the critical goals of workforce development. 

The goals of workforce development

By investing in workforce development, you can achieve these key business objectives:

  • Enhancing productivity: By upgrading the skills of their workforce, businesses can improve productivity, reduce errors, and increase the quality of output. 
  • Attracting and retaining talent: Offering training and development opportunities makes a business more attractive to prospective employees and can be a critical factor in retaining current employees. Career development opportunities are often cited as a significant factor in job satisfaction and loyalty.
According to the Pew Research Center, 63% of workers who quit say that a lack of opportunities for advancement was the reason they left
  • Meeting compliance requirements: Certain industries (health care, banking, and legal, for example) have regulatory requirements for training. Workforce development helps businesses comply with these regulations to avoid legal consequences and maintain operations.
  • Improving employee engagement: Employees who feel their employer is invested in their personal and professional development are more likely to be engaged with their work. This then impacts profits, as highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability

With these impressive benefits in mind, you’re likely eager to get started. So, let’s get to the big picture: the best practices in building a workforce development plan. 

Best practices in modern workforce development

This isn’t your grandmother’s workforce development plan. Modern workforces require modern solutions. An email blast to employees or obligatory annual training sessions no longer cut it. 

Luckily, we’ve got our finger on the pulse of workforce management, and we know what a modern workforce needs. We’ve selected the essential best practices in workforce development that you need to know.

Putting employees first

The workforce dynamic has shifted in the last decade; today, successful workforce development programs put employees first. Gone are the days of mandatory training sessions in a stuffy office.  

Employee training must be tailored for each team member. In other words, it’s unique to each individual’s strengths, weaknesses, interests, and goals. For instance, some prefer traditional classroom learning, while others learn best with informal learning approaches like group brainstorming sessions. 

This means businesses must ensure their training programs are about the employee, letting them pick what they learn based on their interests and goals.

Deloitte graphic on putting the worker at the center of workforce development

Source: Deloitte 

To do this well, companies should focus on a few fundamental changes:

  • Focus on building overall abilities before specific skills.
  • Encourage employees to use their natural interests to tackle new and future challenges.
  • Make learning part of the everyday job, not just something done in the meeting room.
  • Aim to benefit the company and the wider world with their training programs.

By making these changes, businesses can create training that feels more personal and relevant to each worker, helping everyone aim for long-term success together.

Leveraging technology 

Workforce development, like anything else, can be improved with technology. Online development opportunities, eLearning tools, virtual reality, and other technology can provide flexible learning for employees.    

Using workforce management software can help optimize employee development efforts and let data drive workforce management decisions. 

Hubstaff workforce development tool

Here are just a few things that workforce management tools (including our software) can do for your team: 

But your technology usage doesn’t need to stop at a workforce management tool. There are countless ways technology can help you with workforce development. 

Tools to improve workforce development: 

  • Coursera: Offers access to courses from universities and colleges worldwide, covering various topics and skills.
  • LinkedIn Learning: Provides courses focusing on business, technology, and creative skills aimed at professional development.
  • Oracle Talent Management Cloud: A solution that helps organizations attract and retain top talent by managing the employee lifecycle from recruitment to retirement.
  • 15Five: A continuous performance management solution that helps employees grow and develop based on psychological theory and proven management practices.
  • Lattice: Integrates performance management, employee engagement, OKRs, and development in one platform, promoting clear communication between managers and team members.

These tools cater to different needs within workforce development, including learning and education, talent management, employee engagement, skills assessment, and professional networking. The right mix of tools can revolutionize your workforce development strategy.

Use data to drive decisions 

Letting data lead the way is critical to nailing your workforce development. Collect and analyze the effectiveness of training programs and employee performance to make informed decisions about future workforce development initiatives.

Workforce management tools, as we mentioned above, can also help businesses optimize their training and development efforts. 

Hubstaff Insights' highlights feature

Working on company culture

Company culture plays a crucial role in workforce development. Your internal culture is the foundation on which employee development and engagement are built. 

A culture based on transparency and continuous improvement makes it easier for employees to engage in development opportunities and share their knowledge and skills. It creates an environment where learning is valued, and employees are motivated to pursue their professional and personal growth. 

Lastly, culture is crucial in establishing a healthy work-life balance for your team. This is key because flexible work arrangements, such as remote work, can contribute to a more engaged and productive workforce.

Remote workers experience 18% fewer interruptions

Focusing on career development

We saved the best for last. Perhaps the most apparent but essential element of workforce development is career pathing. 

Career pathing and succession planning are like creating a roadmap for employees’ futures at a company. They show employees how to grow from where they are now to where they want to be, whether moving up to a higher position or learning new skills to do different tasks.

The primary benefit of career pathing is it helps everyone understand how they fit into the company’s big picture and plans. It’s essential to keep employees motivated and ready to step into more prominent roles when the time comes. This way, the company keeps growing strong because it has the right people ready to take on new challenges.

By implementing these best practices, businesses can build a more skilled workforce, which is essential for achieving long-term success and competitiveness in today’s dynamic business environment. 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics for workforce development  

Before you set out to improve your workforce development, you must have methods for tracking progress. 

Here are several KPIs and metrics commonly used to assess workforce development efforts:

  • Training completion rates: Measures the percentage of employees who complete assigned training programs within a specified period. High completion rates indicate effective engagement and commitment to development.
  • Employee engagement scores: Evaluate employees’ engagement with their work and the organization, often through surveys. Engaged employees are more likely to participate actively in development opportunities and contribute positively to the organization.
  • Employee retention rate: Tracks the percentage of employees who remain with the company over a specific period. A high retention rate can indicate successful workforce development efforts, as employees often stay with organizations that invest in their growth.
  • Productivity rates: Tracking productivity rates can highlight where employees excel or need improvement, guiding targeted workforce development efforts to enhance skills and efficiency across the team. 
Hubstaff productivity measurement
  • Promotion and advancement rates: Tracks the rate at which employees who have participated in development programs are promoted or take on more advanced roles within the organization.

When selecting KPIs and metrics, you need to align them with the strategic goals and the specific objectives of your workforce development initiatives. 

Regularly reviewing these indicators helps ensure that the organization’s investment in workforce development yields positive results, contributing to overall business success and employee satisfaction.

Key takeaways 

The key to successful workforce development lies in a multifaceted approach. As a final reminder, the best practices in workforce development are:

  • Putting employees first
  • Leveraging technology
  • Working on company culture
  • Focusing on career development

By putting employees at the heart of development strategies, leveraging modern technology for learning and efficiency, fostering a supportive and inclusive company culture, and providing clear paths for career advancement, organizations can enhance their team’s skills and productivity and build a more engaged workforce. 

As businesses navigate the complexities of the modern workplace, these best practices can guide you in creating a successful workforce development program that works for your employees.

Category: Workforce Management