Organizations are increasingly investing in career development programs to keep employees engaged while helping them to improve their skills. According to the Association for Talent Development, the average employee participated in these programs for 32.4 hours in 2014, at an average cost of $1,229 per employee per year. The need for new technology training is a driving factor in this growth.

Why Employee Development Programs Are Important

Small business owners who want to improve productivity and innovation among employees should consider an internal learning and development strategy. Why is this critical to your business? The LinkedIn Global Job Seeker Trends report notes the top reason employees change jobs is lack of career advancement opportunities. The main reason they're attracted to a new company is a strong career path.

Learning in the workplace is an investment that can help companies retain and engage employees. According to Deloitte University Press research, "More than two-thirds [of millennials] believe it is management's job to provide them with accelerated development opportunities." Workers who feel they are not on a solid growth path or not improving their skills are more apt to leave your company than those who are continuously learning new things and advancing their careers. Employees today seek long-term career growth opportunities and have a desire to develop marketable skills. The more an employer can offer learning and development onsite, the more likely employees will stick around and provide a good ROI on these new skills.

Steps to Create a Career Development Program

Starting a career development program to benefit your business doesn't have to be complicated. Creating a program is essentially a four-step process. Adjust your initiative based on your employees' unique needs.

1. Conduct a learning needs assessment of your current workforce. What skills are required to do the basic job? If employees' essential skills are strong, what additional skills would help them perform their jobs better or more efficiently?

2. Determine which employees need training now and which can wait until a later session. Who lacks the skills and knowledge to perform to high standards?

3. Deliver the training using internal subject matter experts and external resources. First, use available knowledge, then look to industry associations to help you find outside resources to incorporate into training efforts. If a local organization offers a similar class, it may be cost-effective to send employees offsite for training.

4. Evaluate the training process to find opportunities to improve efforts and help increase success metrics. Over time, does it contribute to better performance and retention?

It's up to you to create career development programs that offer employees something more than just a paycheck. Learning is increasingly a central focus of modern organizations. When you embrace this trend, you can help position your company for long-term success.

Tags: Career Management Career Development Programs Employee Development Workplace Learning Learning and Development