Given that workforce development has such positive effects for both the employer and employee, ensuring an effective strategy is key. Some aspects to think about include:

Delivery method. While classroom learning may have been the way of the past, online development opportunities are the key to the future. Not only does this not interrupt workflow, but it also helps remove obstacles to on-the-job learning, and allows employees to choose the times that work best for their learning style. Discussion forums, videos, self-paced eLearning courses, webinars, and resource banks are just some of the development tools that can help employees.

Learning, not training. Some employees may balk at the idea of mandatory training, whereas presenting opportunities as being simply about learning a new skill or developing an interest can increase uptake. Learning opportunities can include mentorship, group brainstorm sessions, online programs, or trying something new without the fear of failure.

Communication. Having regular and transparent discussions about business objectives and employee goals will help ensure everyone is on the same page and creates a supportive relationship between employer and employee. Getting real-time feedback from employees can quickly tell you if a development strategy is working, and how to fix it if it isn’t.

Employee-led. Arguably the most important strategy for workforce development is to let the learner set the what, where, and how of their development. This way, they can focus on the skills they need to develop for their roles, without wasting time on something they already know. This tailored approach helps increase willingness to participate as well as engagement. By incorporating smaller chunks of easily-accessible learning into an employee’s daily work, they are more likely to participate and benefit from workforce development programs.

Workforce development is a win-win: Organizations are able to leverage their employees’ newly acquired skills and expertise, while employees get to take advantage of learning opportunities that enhance their value in the workforce.