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Employee Development: Essence, Benefits, and Recommendations
II. Importance and rationale
A. The project plan
III. Employee development: the essence
IV. The role of HR in employee development
A. Organizational perspective
B. The roles
V. Benefits of employee development programs
B. Relationship cycle
VI. Recommendations on best techniques of employee development
B. Rationale for improvement
It is possible to argue that manpower and workforce in organizations remain to be one of the most vital and fundamental assets that define the course and progress of the entire business. As employees are assigned to certain functions, roles, and tasks in an organization, their performance and quality of job reflect on organizational outcomes, including financial ones. In this sense, the issue of employees' qualifications and skills comes to light, while the role of the human resource (HR) department becomes more vivid and responsible in resolving this issue. HR management is definitely a far more complex discipline than simply recruiting the right people; more importantly, it is about caring and nurturing the organizational workforce to prepare it for the completion of complex and challenging tasks.
Thus, the success of the organizational mission depends on the qualification and professional qualities of workers, while employee development programs are established to cope with this challenge. For this purpose, HR specialists are involved in training, coaching, and mentoring of employees to increase the diapason of their skills and abilities, improving organizational outcomes, and stabilizing performance. Employee development is considered a highly valued and significant HR practice because it directly reflects on key domains of employment, such as motivation, productivity, teamwork, and career-building, which means that HR management should identify the most efficient techniques to contribute to the process of the staff growth.
Importance and Rationale
Evidently, the modern workplace is a highly dynamic and fast-developing setting where typical rules of the competition and productive rivalry take place. A standard mistake made by developing HR departments is focusing their efforts on practices of hiring and recruiting a highly qualified workforce, which is only partially a right choice of priorities. Nevertheless, this course of action is time-taking and is often limited by several highly experienced employees in the labor market (Noe, 2016).
The more rational and compromising solution is to attract a workforce with good professional potential and invest in their professional growth, progress, and development. Still, some HR departments have doubts about the rationality of this strategy. Therefore, the main goal of the research project is to properly define employee development and introduce its value in the most perspective and ambitious way to positively impact employers' decisions. Moreover, upon identifying the essence of employee development and the role of HR managers, the most suitable methodologies will be discussed thoroughly to select the beneficial and effective techniques of employee development in the end.
There are five central functions of HR management, including recruitment and selection, guidance, maintenance of working conditions, employee relations management, and employee development (Lussier & Hendon, 2012). Evidently, employee development is only one of the following functions, while others are no less significant to the process of HR management to date. So, why is employee development chosen as a prioritized topic for the current research and investigation?
As it was mentioned before, HR departments tend to stress recruitment and selection activities to attract highly qualified employees, but this practice is not comprehensive due to the limited number of skilled manpower. Also, without preparation and investment into the talent, the cost of losing those qualified employees might prevail over all initial expenditures on their search. Specialists underline that, if an employee is lost, it takes several months on average to find a similar replacement and the same period of time to cover indirect productivity costs (Noe, 2016). When it is a case of losing a highly qualified employee, the process may be delayed in time. In a way, employee development practice becomes a sort of a solution to this issue, as the workers are trained and prepared by HR experts to adjust to challenges and meet their expectations appropriately. Therefore, the choice over employee development practice as the methodology for improving employees' professional conditions and retaining the workforce is explained. The problem is how to ensure the high-class employee development experience and achieve the goals of the program, which is going to be discussed in the paper.
Employee Development: The Essence
Even though there are multiple terms and definitions associated with employee development, they all give quite an adequate representation of the practice. Technically, employee development is defined as a set of practical tools, programs, and training expertise aiming at improving employees' qualifications to increase their both professional and personal performance in the workplace (Noe, 2016). As people are usually assigned to tasks and jobs, employee development efforts are focused on training and preparing employees to do their assignments in a better way than they actually can do. In the meantime, employee development is about taking career development practices that offer new job opportunities to workers. Nonetheless, while new career steps presume greater and bigger responsibilities and challenges, an employee development program is a training experience that adequately prepares trainees for such promotion.
In the context of employee development, qualification is also the knowledge of interest. In fact, qualification can be described as the cumulative collection of employees' skills, abilities, qualities, and competencies that provide him or her with an opportunity to perform a work of specific complexity and, in turn, receive a specific reward for its completion. In this sense, qualification is the key to organizational performance and positive business outcomes (Noe, 2016). Still, it is important to note that qualification has a risk of stagnation unless systematic and regular training is guaranteed by an employer and/or HR department. What rated as a high qualification ten years ago may be formally irrelevant and non-competitive in modern conditions. Thus, employee development aims to maintain the qualification of the staff members to comply with current business requirements and ensure that their skills are still valuable in the workforce market.
In the practical context, employee development represents joint efforts of both employees and the organization/HR department. This important relationship will be further elaborated describing the role of HR management in securing efficient employee development. Formally, the process of qualification upgrade includes standard procedures, such as training sessions, and skill sharpening practices. Training sessions are designed in a way not only to provide employees with new or advanced knowledge but also to improve the adoption of new expertise. This is made by HR specialists to ensure that theory smoothly transforms into practical skills and abilities valuable for performance (Chambers, 2013). As a rule, development practice is categorized by the focus on employees' professional growth, personal growth, or both at the same time. HR managers are the ones who define which category of employee qualification should be trained by priority. Thus, professional growth involves the improvement of employees' current skills associated with his/her direct work duties. Personal growth is more about training employees soft skills, which have a fundamental psychological impact on the future performance of the organization (Broadhurst, 2012). In common, these practical approaches help HR departments to shape their recruited workforce into truly valuable assets.
The Role of HR in Employee Development
Evidently, employee development can be presented as an outcome that both an employee and organization/employer pursue as a goal. This goal complies with the organization's mission that usually assumes high customer satisfaction from the company's activity and high financial rates secured by efficient business performance. Therefore, it is vital to outline that research literature approves the positive effect of employee development training programs on the overall organizational performance (Elnaga & Imran, 2013). Moreover, this increase in business performance reflects on the firm's productivity. As long as employees are trained through efficient development programs, there is a formal guarantee that this qualified workforce will be capable to yield bigger profits and solve greater organizational tasks.
It is a fundamental role of an HR manager to cultivate a special organizational culture that would stimulate employees to take their development and training programs with all severity and seriousness. For this reason, HR management takes a leadership role to guide the process in the right direction. The initial step is to communicate the necessity for training by demonstrating its value for both employees and the organization (Chambers, 2013). The proper and balanced leadership in employee development stands on interaction with all staff members, not only functional heads of departments and units who can just spread the information to others. Work with individuals is complicated and time-taking, yet it remains to be an efficient experience of quality employee development when HR leaders are well aware of workers shortages and strengths.
This is vital for every employee to believe in the real essence of training programs, showing their willingness to take part in this practice. In addition to the leader's role, HR managers become motivators as well: for example, they can formulate some persuasive arguments that make employees believe in their power to shape a better future for their current organization (Chambers, 2013). As long as the team members feel important, they become more eager to upgrade their skills and competencies to be really valuable assets for the employer. In turn, active trainees can serve as role models for those who have initial doubts regarding employee development programs, and thus, let them realize that they were actually wrong.
Implementing employee development programs is a sort of art that requires control and supervision. By taking a role of a supervisor, HR specialists select and verify content for training sessions that will directly meet the expectations of employees. Supervision functions are also connected with evaluating and measuring the effectiveness of training and development practices. Thus, Latif (2012) proposed the training effectiveness model that offers to focuses on vital categories of employee development satisfaction with training, satisfaction with content, satisfaction with HR specialist/trainer, and knowledge adoption to measure their common efficiency. That is how appropriate supervision in employee development can be achieved.
Importantly, the focus on the staff needs is also crucial in the context of planning employee development. Technically, HR trainers should realize that employees would rather have very dispersed needs and expectations from the practice (Lussier & Hendon, 2012). In this sense, the most rational choice is to classify employees by groups with similar interests and training needs. Eventually, HR management will be capable to plan employee development practices in a balanced, continuous, and employee-centered way.
Benefits of Employee Development Programs
Multiple evidence and findings are indicating the value of employee development and utility for organizations and their workers. The majority of researches are unanimous about employee developments benefit in improving qualification level that involves both knowledge and skills (Latif, 2012). Employee development provides a certain equilibrium effect by enhancing and updating employees' strengths and negating or minimizing the individual weaknesses. It is also found that employee development cultivates and reinforces loyalty, improving organizations' image and reputation in the eyes of employees. With enhanced loyalty, employees become more engaged, career-focused, and less fearful of changes and challenges. Organizational benefits from employee development are also substantial: thus, training increases employees' productivity, reduces turnover rate, decreases workplace conflicts, promotes constructive competition, expands opportunities for organizational growth, and streamlines working morale as well as personnel relationships (Broadhurst, 2012).
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As training and development programs impact employees' qualifications, their performance is predicted to be better in the context of organizational profits. Nda and Fard, (2013) introduced this process as the relationship cycle: training initiatives affect employees, who cause an impact on productivity, which in turn, has a positive impact on revenues. This process is really cyclic by nature, as new training programs and initiatives lead to new possibilities in the workplace and new career opportunities for employees. Significantly, these opportunities can be diverse based on the different needs of employees. For this reason, employee development initiatives can be classified as follows: programs for beginners, career-building programs, investment in employees with high potential, diversity programs, and knowledge transfer programs.
Recommendations on Best Techniques of Employee Development
All techniques oriented on developing employees' qualifications can be systematized and presented in four domains: standard assessments (tests, benchmarks, appraisals, etc.), formal education, professional experiences, and relationship building (Noe, 2016). Every domain of employee development focuses on specific training needs and expectations and might be utilized upon certain occasions or circumstances. When training needs are defined, a big list of employee development techniques is available to HR specialists:
- coaching and mentoring sessions;
- on-the-job training;
- case studies;
- technology-centered training;
- group discussions and interactive training;
- role-playing games;
- outside practices;
- educational movies and visual materials.
Some of these techniques have stood the test of time; some of them have become obsolete, and some of them shaped into more progressive forms of training. Based on research facts known to date, it is crucial to identify the most efficient employee development techniques among all to better meet the training needs of the staff.
Recommendations for Improvement
Even though most techniques of employee development are dynamic, interactive training is highly recommended as the optimal methodology to keep staff members involved. Interactive training, including group discussions and team-oriented sessions, are accepted to be efficient because of making employees more open and responsive to new knowledge (Noe, 2016). The training of this kind helps employees with diverse knowledge to share their competencies with less aware peers through interpersonal channels of communication. In such a way, interactive training, whether it is group games or active summaries, essentially contributes to relationship building and formulation of strong team spirit, aside from direct benefits of individual development.
In the meantime, job experiences and simulations, including on-the-job training and particularly hands-on training practices, have been found useful when employees need to learn and adopt certain professional experiences. They are straightforward, experiential, concise, and emphasize the quick practical development of an individual. One of the strengths is a minimal formality and optimal focus on practice due to which employees often inexperienced ones can take their job responsibilities immediately upon gaining new knowledge, skills, and abilities (Chambers, 2013). When the organization is planning to make a change of technological nature, job experiences and simulations are highly recommended training techniques for a quick transfer of knowledge, because they efficiently reproduce real-time experiences as compared to other educational approaches.
Eventually, computer-based and technology-centered development is extremely recommended due to its progressive and highly adaptable essence. Technologies have become widespread, establishing trends of digitalization and computerization of processes. In fact, there is a broad scope of technological solutions that fit employee development scenarios, from animated and interactive multimedia to 3D programs and online training (Lussier & Hendon, 2012). The indisputable advantages of these training methods are flexibility of approaches, relevance/validity of skills acquired, and opportunities to train remotely. Most of these techniques are cost-efficient and easy-to-use, which brings reliability and productive outcomes to the process of technology-based employee development.
Employee development is found as a highly valued and significant HR practice because it directly reflects on key domains of employment, such as motivation, productivity, teamwork, and career-building. It means that HR management should identify the most efficient techniques to contribute to the process of employee development. The essence of employee development is to improve workers qualification that reflects on individual progress and organizational performance in particular. HR management should guide, encourage, and supervise the process of employee development to make it really effective. Aside from qualification, employee development contributes to staff loyalty, a decrease of team conflicts and turnover rates, and improvement of employees' morale. Among multiple employee development techniques, interactive training, job experiences, and simulation, and technology-based training are recommended as the most efficient, reliable, and valid.