Staff Development Strategies

30 March 2021

Career development has been the top reason employees leave a job for ten years, according to the Employee Retention Report by Work Institute.

And the number of employees complaining about a lack of staff development opportunities has increased by 170% in the last decade.

This highlights the importance of staff development plans. Without a clear plan you risk losing good employees, and rehiring can be expensive.

In this guide, we cover the benefits of staff development and the different approaches you can take to begin upskilling your workforce.

Benefits of staff development

Many managers avoid employee development. They can be concerned about investing in staff only for them to leave.

However, creating a learning culture is the best way to keep your employees around. It will also help to reduce business costs and increase revenue.

There are many reasons to develop your staff’s skills:

  • Increase job satisfaction.
  • Increase employee efficiency.
  • Reduce need for oversight and close management.
  • Reduce employee turnover.
  • Give employees more flexibility and ability to innovate.
  • Make employees more able to adapt to unexpected circumstances.

Objectives of staff development

Before creating an action plan for staff development , you need to know what you hope to achieve.

Are you hoping to create career development opportunities for staff? Perhaps reduce the need to closely manage workers?

There are several key areas that you’re development plan can focus on:

  • Flexibility and adaptability.
  • Organisation and timekeeping.
  • Creativity and innovation.

As well as soft skills, you can also provide extensive health & safety training.

Whether you want your sales team to close more deals, to transition someone into a leadership role or improve communication across the business, a comprehensive staff development plan can help.

Different kinds of staff development

Depending on your goal, you’ll need to consider different staff development strategies. There are many approaches to managing and developing staff skills.


Staff development improves an employee in all areas of your business. Training should be more specific and have a clear goal.

Consider training if you are looking to have someone take on new responsibilities.

An experienced member of the team should take the employee through a task and explain the process.

From there, the experienced person should support the employee as they get comfortable completing the task unaided.


Similar to training, shadowing has an employee observe the work of someone else.

Whereas training will allow someone to better understand and even complete a specific task, shadowing gives a more broad understanding of someone’s role.

Shadowing gives the learner a better understanding of the work they do and how that impacts their own activities. This can lead to new ideas and improved efficiency.

Keep in mind that when learning from a colleague, the quality of training may not be as good and that the person being shadowed may pass on bad habits to other workers.

Job Rotation

Training and shadowing allow you to focus on developing certain employees. But job rotation can help if you want to upskill your entire team.

Job rotation is where members of staff swap roles for a short period to learn new skills from different departments or job roles.

This can have a similar impact to shadowing. It enables a larger number of employees to gain new skills and can make different teams work together more cohesively.

However, there is a considerable time investment as many employees will be learning new tasks at the same time.


As an employer, you likely already hold regular performance reviews with staff. But how you structure these appraisals can help staff to progress.

These meetings enable you to:

  • Find out which activities employees want more training on.
  • Ask about new skills they would like to learn.
  • Discuss opportunities for growth with workers.
  • Set targets for future appraisals.

During an appraisal, you should discuss career development opportunities. Outline the steps to be taken and agree a timeline to review.

Holding regular appraisals will ensure that employees are aware of any professional development opportunities and the steps they need to take to progress. This will improve staff happiness and retention.


Staff development skills don’t need to relate to specific job roles. You can add a lot of value by making employees aware of more general business processes and policies.

For example:

  1. Leadership and management training.
  2. Handling client relationships.
  3. Equality and diversity training.

For these sorts of skills, you may need to bring someone in who can run a seminar or workshop.

You can likely advise on these broad topics yourself. But by bringing someone in they can explain more abstract ideas. These workshops often come with a certificate that your staff can keep on file.

In summary, there are many different approaches to staff development. Decide on the approach that will work best for your business and get the most out of your employees.

Get in touch to find out how we can simplify your HR processes. Call us on 0800 028 2420.

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