Here's How To Do Employee Development Right

A well-known quote from Richard Branson is making the Internet rounds again, because it resonates for reasons that I’ll discuss in a bit. The quote goes ‘Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.’ Branson acknowledges what all good business leaders know – employee development programs that empower staff with new strategies or improved processes will benefit the competition unless you’re going beyond training to give staff reasons to stay. Employee development is not just about knowledge acquisition – it’s also about creating an engaged, dedicated, enthusiastic work force, one that will stay so the company can get the intended ROI.

So why does this resonate now? One word: millennials. Recent data about this cohort from the Pew Research Center pegs them at 53.5 million strong in the workforce, more than both Generation X and Baby Boomers. Here’s the thing about millennials – not only do they expect to receive on the job training throughout their careers, they also expect a creative, engaging, interactive, tech-centric process to deliver it. The numbers are on their side and frankly, even if they weren’t, employee development programs should be all those things to ensure that new skills are both retained and utilized.

With all the innovation happening in many other areas of the corporate world, employee development programs for the most part have remained stultifyingly unchanged. Staff members get paper handouts, the presenter introduces the topic via a snazzy PowerPoint, tests are administered, then a wrap up, and all the training collateral is filed and quickly forgotten. Here’s a better way:

  1. Talk about the ‘why’ before you get to the ‘what’

    Buy-in is not required when it comes to employee development programs – most staff recognize the need to constantly improve the skills and processes that will make them successful. What IS required is discussing the basis for choosing a specific program to implement, as well as the desired outcomes. Talk about current success factors as well as areas for improvement, then talk specifics about how the program chosen will make a real difference.

  2. Check in with staff before, during, and after

    The best case scenario is for company leaders to actively participate in the development program – staff is accountable for completing it but leadership is responsible for the outcomes so it makes sense to see it from beginning to end. If that’s not possible, meet with key staff throughout the program to gauge staff engagement and get feedback about the program, the presenter, and if they believe the goals outlined at the beginning will be achieved.

  3. Make sure program delivery is the right fit

    Speaking of staff engagement, the key to ensuring that an employee development program results in actual change is to fully engage staff so they are connected to the message. Today’s workforce expects to be engaged in business the same way they are in life, so development programs should be interactive and online with opportunities to offer feedback and ask questions. Consider mobile options, think about gamification, incorporate team building exercises – engagement is absolutely critical to ensuring that the message resonates and that it’s remembered.


The Hoops platform delivers an incredibly engaging experience when used for employee development programs. Give us a call at (877) 262-7358 or send us an email at to schedule a demo.

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