In today’s market, one could argue that training and developing an existing employee that already works great as one of your team is more valuable than hiring one of the industry’s top talent. In fact, PeopleKeep quotes that “every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average.” and “Frequent voluntary turnover has a negative impact on employee morale, productivity, and company revenue.”

But we live in a culture of high-turnover and job-hopping. According to a 2017 study by Qualtrics, eighty percent of millennials who participated said that being part of a workplace culture that emphasizes personal growth was a very important aspect of their employment. That being the case, how do you develop employee engagement, not to mention, take your team to the next level?

Create individual development plans

In doing this, you’ll want to sit down with an employee and discover their goals and preferences in the workplace. Of course, not everyone will spend their day doing all of their favorite things, but if you’re able to find tasks that your employee actually likes doing, how much more job satisfaction do you think they will have at the end of the day? Besides this, employees like to understand their career path at the beginning of a new job.

Support role ownership

If you’re hiring millennials, or those new to the workforce, they may be used to a structured environment where assignments are clearly outlined. As a manager or supervisor, you may have to work to tear down the walls of Routine and Convention that some employees may be used to or even comfortable with. By developing and encouraging a sense of ownership an employee’s role, you’re allowing them the freedom to assign themselves new tasks, create their own KPIs (more on those later), and try things they’ve never tried before. This means also giving them room to fail.  With the proper guidance, giving an employee room to fail can help to make them more confident when making decisions and trying new things that may help your business overall. Of course, every failure will have to be learned from and rebounded off of with a new direction, but failures often make great learning opportunities. Harvard Business Review even recommends encouraging employees to take ownership of their own development plans.

Regularly create and go over Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs)

Along with giving your employees freedom to fail and encouraging a sense of ownership,  you’ll also need to teach them how to plan for and measure their own success. As much as we all love freedom, we also crave structure and having clear KPIs in place can help employees understand exactly what’s expected of them, how to do it well, and when they miss the mark. this will also help you as a manager go over where an employee may have dropped the ball because their goals were clearly outlined on the beginning.


Provide feedback regularly and often

Annual performance reviews can be a scary time for any employee, but they might not nearly be so scary if your employees have been hearing your feedback all year long. Along with your feedback, be sure that you are also guiding employees by turning mistakes into learning opportunities and giving them Direction on how to improve in the future. By showing that you believe in your employees’ potential, you’ll be showing them that your workplace is a safe place to make mistakes as long as those mistakes are learned from and use as an opportunity to improve.


Also be sure to let your employees know when they are doing a great job. According to, The largest factors that lead to job dissatisfaction are “a lack of basic recognition and clear/fair opportunities to advance.” It may sound like a no-brainer, but they go on to suggest that employers remember to treat each employee with fairness and to not show favoritism. Overall, be generous with your appreciation and be sure to provide constructive feedback when possible.


In-office mentorships can be a great way to help your employees feel invested in their jobs and like they’re advancing in their career. Mentors can be anyone from an immediate supervisor, a seasoned coworker, or a non-coworker that works in a closely-related field. Facilitating these relationships for your employees. If you don’t feel as though you have the time or resources to provide individual mentor relationships for your employees, a few other ideas you might consider are:

  • Stock an office library or bookshelf for employees to use freely.
  • Provide employees with an annual learning budget (or)
  • Reimburse employees for seminars, lectures, materials, or conferences they attend that are related to their roles.
  • Set up lunch-and-learn events at your office. Employees can teach a skill set they’re particularly proud of; helping employees learn something new from people they trust.
  • Attend industry events or lectures as a team.
(This list originally appeared on

How have you handled employee development in the past? What was your favorite option from our list here? Leave your thoughts and comments below!