Employee Development Plan: Top CEOs Use One, and So Should You (Free Template)


An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin

According to the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), companies with better training investments enjoy a 24% higher profit margin.

Keep this statistic at the forefront and consider the benefits you will obtain if employee development didn’t stop once the training period was over.

Employee development, implemented via an employee development plan, gives an organization the means to continually invest in their employees so they bloom in their role.

Employee development looks to improve employee skills, knowledge, and experience to meet their professional and personal goals. An employee development plan is the set of actions guiding the employee to meet these goals, with back-and-forth collaboration between the employee and the manager.

The research division of Miller Helman Group found that investing as little as $500 in employee development yielded a 46.1% employee performance increase. It is reasons like this that we at Process Street take employee development seriously.

In this article, you will learn what an employee development plan is and how top CEOs use employee development to succeed in their role. On that note, we will also provide you with our free Employee Development Plan Template to help you get started.

Sound good?

Click on the relevant subheader below to jump to your section of choice. Alternatively, scroll and learn all we have to say in terms of employee development.

Ready to nurture your best team? Let’s get started!

Employee Development Plan Template

2 out of 3 employees have quit jobs over inadequate career development” – Payscale, 2020 Compensation Best Practices Report

Before anything else, I want to introduce you to our Employee Development Plan Template, which I have embedded below for your consideration.

Later in this article, you will learn how you can use this template to perfect your employee development and onboarding processes with your free Process Street account.

This template will guide you through employee development practices used by experts and top CEOs across the globe, to nurture employee talent in your team.

Click here to access our Employee Development Plan Checklist!

Right, let’s get started on discovering what employee development is, why it is important, and how top CEOs use it.

What is an employee development plan? Professional vs employee development

First off, we must understand the concept of employee development, and how this concept differs from the often confusing term professional development.

What is professional development?

Professional development focuses on an employee’s career progression, which includes providing access to education and training opportunities, professional experience, and shadowing others.

To be most effective, professional development is an ongoing process, systematically planned to develop employee competency. For some positions, professional development is vital, to maintain certification or licensure, ensuring employees are up to standard.

What are the benefits of professional development?

Studies show professional development increased health and wellness benefits by 22% and 24% respectively. Once more, implementing effective professional development is found to create a space for open dialogue, supporting team learning.

Impressive, huh?

Well, yes…and no.

You see, these impressive results are dwarfed by the extensive benefits given by another type of development.

This development practice has turned the tide for how we view career progression.

You got it, I’m talking about employee development.

What is employee development?

Employee development hones in on an individual’s skills and expertise to enhance, improve, and refine these while also developing new ones.

Hold up, hold up…this definition seems very similar to professional development, doesn’t it?

Well, there is a key difference between the 2 disciplines. That is, employee development looks at professional, academic, and personal growth alongside one-another. Whereas professional development just considers the individual’s…profession.

Think of employee development as the next generation of professional development processes.

For instance, consider the workplace in the 1990s. It was a rigid environment, with set 9-5 hours, and employees taut in suits and ties. In comparison, today’s modern working environment is fluid and casual, where a work-life balance is championed. Employee development processes reflect this movement, blending personal, academic, and professional needs for complete employee support.

Because employee development is in essence professional development + more, for the remainder of this article we focus solely on employee development.

What is an employee development plan?

An employee development plan is the means of putting employee development into practice. These plans are action steps, used by both the employee and the manager.

The three aspects of en employee development plan

Carrying out these action steps enables professional growth, personal growth, and academic growth combined. An employee development plan aims to meet organizational goals and to align an individual’s core values and beliefs with short and long-term personal, academic, and career targets.

Employee development in action: Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia

Patagonia is a designer of outdoor gear and clothing brands. CEO, Rose Marcario, joined the company as COO in 2008 and was promoted to her current position as CEO in 2013.

Under Marcario’s tenure, Patagonia profits quadrupled, reaching $600 million in revenue in 2013. Patagonia also flaunts achievements such as being rated 2nd for global sustainability leadership in 2019, based on a Global Scan/SustainAbility survey. As an organization under Marcario’s leadership, Patagonia has certainly triumphed at doing more with less.

Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard stated:

Rose Marcario is the best leader Patagonia has ever had” – Yvon Chouinard

What are the secrets to Marcario’s success?

One key success-feature is that Marcario doesn’t separate business beliefs from her self beliefs. Marcario uses her values, ethics, and integrity as a driving force behind her leadership strategy. You can see how Marcario’s methods are more aligned with an employee development plan rather than professional development – because she works on both personal and professional growth together.

When I was coming up, all I had were male CEOs to gauge what a CEO is. At a certain point, I had to abandon that idea because I didn’t relate to them at all. What’s most important is developing your value system, what you believe is right and wrong, and your style” – Rose Marcario, Rose Marcario on Reinventing the Classic Business Model at Patagonia

Marcario believes in cherishing and developing herself and employees individually, focusing on continuous progression and change. To do this, she takes the concept of employee development, to improve her life, taking into account professional, academic, and personal goals set against her values and beliefs.

Employee development plan benefits

In the above case study, we inferred the benefits reaped by applying employee development as a concept are far-reaching and strikingly impactful. But you don’t have to be pulling in millions to realize the rewards employee development and an employee development plan can bring.

The benefits obtained from employee development are more extensively reported compared to professional development benefits. A quick search through Google Scholar will indicate this.

In this section, I outline 5 top benefits that can be obtained from an employee development plan.

Strengthens employee motivation

Employee development - personal goals

Studies indicate 3 main psychological needs that yield enhanced motivation, namely: Competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Employee development plans satisfy each, as I will explain.

  • Competence: An employee development plan devises a set of actions that when performed, give the employee the skills, knowledge, and experience to perform better – all in all, competency is improved.
  • Autonomy: By aligning development goals with an individual’s values and beliefs, an employee development plan gives autonomy to the employee’s professional development – the employee helps set the plan and therefore owns the plan.
  • Relatedness: Aligning personal goals and beliefs with professional ones, the employee feels connected to their plan. The plan is produced based on employee wants and needs as well as the organization’s goals.

If these psychological needs are thwarted, then employee motivation is significantly reduced. An employee development plan, therefore, ensures you implement best practices to maintain motivation throughout your team.

Helps attract talented applications

In the book Leading Organizations: Ten Timeless Truths, McKinsey senior partners Scott Keller and Mary Meaney detail the main issues facing leaders today. One of which is the attraction and retainment of talent.

A 2012 study looking at more than 600,000 researchers, entertainers, politicians, and athletes, found the highest performers were 400% more productive than average.

With this in mind, think about the impact top talent will have for a given project’s success.

For instance, let us say you replaced 20% of an average workforce with top talent, how soon do you think you will see the desired impact? If these people were 400% more productive, it would take you less time to complete the project. If a competitor has 20% more top talent than you do, then you will soon fall behind in the market.

Despite the obvious benefits, 82% of companies claim they can’t attract hight-quality candidates. For the companies that do, only 7% state they maintain this talent.

How does an employee development plan aid talent acquisition and retainment?

An employee development plan creates a better Employee Value Proposition (EVP). That is, the plan defines exactly how the employee will benefit from working for your company based on the employee’s specific aims and goals. Having an EVP stronger than your competition means you will attract and retain the best talent.

Improves employee performance

Employee development - academic

As we saw in the Patagonia case study presented above, an employee development plan improves employee performance. For Marcario, having such a plan helped her perform to the best of her abilities, increasing Patagonia’s revenue stream, and enabling the company to give more for its philanthropic objectives.

For team-wide competency, employee expertise and intellectual capacity need to be improved. According to Beausaert et al, an employee development plan gives step-by-step actions to support expertise growth via learning and reflection. A mindset for making continuous improvement is adopted, this could be through work-related training, or outside academic training.

At the end of the day, organizations depend on having people with the right skills, attitudes, and capabilities for a business to reach its goals. An employee development plan gives that extra polish to your team.

Increases the firm’s efficiency and profitability

Research shows a positive relationship between employee involvement and productivity vs organizational profitability and market share. Such findings serve as an alert to the implications of cultivating a strong company culture that supports employees, engaging them with their work on a personal level. What better way to do this than via an employee development plan, devised by the employee to meet their personal, academic, and organizational goals.

Improves employee retention and satisfaction

As already discussed, an employee development plan improves employee motivation. This has a cascading effect, boosting employee retainment. Why would an employee actively seek to leave an organization, when they are motivated in their role?

Helps you plan for the future

Employee development - professional

By the end of 2010, the United States is projected to have 10 million more jobs than available skilled workers. And so there is an urgency to create a way of sustaining organizational performance via systematically replacing talent.

For this, a popular approach is taken named succession planning, which involves preparing replacements for key vacancies. An employee development plan comes under the umbrella term of succession planning via ensuring individuals are prepared to increase work proficiency. This is done by making continuous improvements and strengthening individual advancement.

What should an employee development plan include?


According to Investors of People, there are 5 key principles every employee development plan should include. I have listed these principles below and highlighted how these principles are incorporated in our Employee Development Plan Template.

1. Established personal and career goals :

This is a vital step that makes it more likely the individual will buy into the idea of employee development. It incorporates a holistic view – via taking into consideration an employee’s personal, academic, and professional goals – giving a step-by-step approach that can be incorporated into the employee’s working and non-working life.

For instance, working at Process Street, my employee development plan goals include: Improve my editing skills and write more articles with a business sustainability focus. These work-related goals are aligned with my personal goals and core values: To produce work of higher quality and to communicate business sustainability-related issues.

In our Employee Development Plan Template, under the header Identify Goals, 3 long-term and 3 short-term goals are documented. Process Street’s Task Permissions feature keeps development goals personal and private.

2. Establish work development needs :

This looks at role demands and how these demands will change in the future – from organizational change, promotions, and the increased expectations. Business-orientated development needs are mapped onto personal-development needs to parallel personal growth and career-focused growth.

For instance, my personal goal was to improve my writing and produce better quality articles. This aligned with Process Street’s core value pay attention to details. I produced an Editing Checklist to meet my development goals. I follow this checklist to edit and polish my work to Process Street’s required standards. It is easy to use Process Street’s form fields, such as our Long Text form field and our Date form field, to establish and document activities needed to complete set goals.

3. Develop an action plan :

Areas identified for development need to be mapped. Use the 70/20/10 rule – 70% of learning comes from on-the-job experience, 20% from other people, and 10% from coursework and training.

My employee development plan has been mapped using Process Street’s checklists. I have an Editing Checklist a Planning Checklist and a Pre-publish Checklist which I follow to ensure my articles are of high quality.

You can also use Process Street, for free, to build your employee development plans. In our Employee Development Plan Template, you will set activities needed to complete each goal. This is your action plan. You can use these additional checklists to support this action plan.

4. Make changes on the development path :

There is no point detailing a plan of action if the employee doesn’t implement the changes suggested. Sometimes organizational change can seem daunting, but the process is easier with the implementation of a change management model. Use one of Process Street’s change management model templates along with our Employee Development Plan Template.

In this template, under the header Describe Current Tasks the employee is emboldened to think about how to ensure tasks are performed more frequently, and to identify and minimize roadblocks to progress. This ensures a flexible approach is taken, and change is embraced to deliver the employee’s goals.

5. Reflect on efficacy and make the updates required :

Self-adjustment and reflection need to be built into the final stages of the employee development plan. By doing this, both the manager and the employee can see what went well, and what could have been improved. The idea is that, with time, the process becomes more successful and smoother.

For instance, since its first introduction, I have worked with my manager to improve my editing checklist, to catch further errors and mistakes I make in my work. As more and more quality blocks are caught and brought to my attention, my writing gets better and better. This benefits me and my goals, it benefits my manager, and it benefits Process Street as a whole.

Our Employee Development Plan Template presents the task Set regular progress checkpoints. At this point, you are encouraged to check progress to reflect on efficacy and adjust your development plan as required. This step utilizes Process Street’s dynamic due date feature. That is, deadlines for goals are set and the employee is notified when the task is due.

Make sure you are incorporating all these steps given above in your employee development plan. Or, even better, use Process Street’s Employee Development Plan Template. That way you can feel confident that you are following the correct process, as recommended by the experts.

You can easily edit our Employee Development Plan Template to make it more suited to your needs. Edit to add additional features such as:

  • Stop tasks to ensure task order.
  • Conditional logic, creating a dynamic template that caters to your needs.
  • Role assignments, to ease task delegation within your team.
  • Approvals, allowing decision-makers to give the go-ahead (or rejection) on important items. Also, the necessary comments can be provided.
  • Webhooks, so apps can send out automated messages or information directly to other apps. A great feature keeping your other tools notified about the status of checklists and tasks in Process Street.
  • Task assignments, to assign users and groups to individual tasks in your checklists, making it easy to see who is responsible for what.

It is these features that make Process Street’s checklists – including our Employee Development Plan Templatesuperpowered.

At Process Street, we have a host of template resources you can jump in and use right away to help you with employee onboarding and development processes. Watch our below video, Employee Onboarding Software for a quick overview regarding the power of Process Street for streamlining your operations.

Continuously nurture talent in your team to build a thriving organization from the inside out

Emplolyee development - life

With an employee development plan, I am empowered to become a better writer. Top CEOs are driven to bolster the organization’s bottom line. And top talent is attracted, motivated, and retained. The future of your team is adequately planned for.

Once more, implementing an employee development plan has never been easier with our Employee Development Plan Template, which you can access from your free Process Street account.

For more information on how you can create the best team, check out the below Process Street articles for further reading:

Cheers to nurturing your best team, for happier employees and happier businesses.

Do you implement an employee development plan for your team? What successes and challenges have you faced? We would love to hear from you, please comment below. Who knows, you may even get featured in an upcoming article!

Get our posts & product updates earlier by simply subscribing

Jane Courtnell

Hi there, I am a Junior Content Writer at Process Street. I graduated in Biology, specializing in Environmental Science at Imperial College London. During my degree, I developed an enthusiasm for writing to communicate environmental issues. I continued my studies at Imperial College's Business School, and with this, my writing progressed looking at sustainability in a business sense. When I am not writing I enjoy being in the mountains, running and rock climbing. Follow me at @JaneCourtnell.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Take control of your workflows today