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The High ROI of Professional Development Plans

Written on Nov 3, 2016 4:24:19 PM, by Ilie Ghiciuc

Attracting and retaining high-quality employees becomes more difficult as the market becomes more competitive. Employees and employers are adjusting to changes brought on by technology and the globalization of the economy.

One way that employers can retain employees, improve their skills, and get a good ROI is through a professional development plan.

In fact, employees that participate in professional development programs are 10% more likely to stay. But the benefits do not end there.

The ROI of Professional Development Plans 


Training is essential to making an organization run its best. Companies need to adapt to the market and make changes to their business models and practices. This is essential if a company wants to stay competitive.

But in order for the changes to actually translate into results, they first need to train employees on how to understand and use the new systems, technologies, and practices that have been put into place.

Also read: How to Create an In-House Training Plan for Your Team

A recent Great Place to Work survey found that, on average, companies in the Fortune 100 spent 73 hours training employees, compared to the 38 training hours spent by other companies. The Fortune 100 companies also had individualized professional development programs and succession planning. It does not seem like a coincidence that their 2-year growth was five times the national average and that their revenue growth was 22% more than the average.


Most often, new employees did not learn everything they needed to learn in university programs. Companies can help recruit new talent by helping them expand their knowledge through development programs.

Companies that have an active learning culture  can use that to their advantage by offering professional a development plan to every employee as soon as they start. This practice can help attract and retain higher quality applicants.


When employees are trained in new skills, they feel like their company values them, supports them, and cares about them. These feelings go a long way in building trust and loyalty in the employer-employee relationship.

When employees are trained they see that they are advancing and feel that there is the potential for growth within the company. All of these feelings translate into high retention.

High retention saves companies a significant amount of money. There are some estimates that say it costs about six to nine months worth of salary to replace an employee.


Having a professional development plan can make employees more satisfied with their jobs. In a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, researchers found that 42% of employees said that professional development was very important to their job satisfaction.

Satisfied employees are more efficient and productive, leading to higher profits and shareholder value.


Employee engagement is a term used very often. There are statistics everywhere about how awful employee engagement numbers are. But professional development plans are one of the many ways to engage employees in their work and their futures.

When employers work with employees on their career goals and the types of training that will help them reach their career goals, they will be more engaged in the process of learning and doing their jobs.

Also read: Why Learning And Engagement Are Inseparable

How to get started

Professional development plans are a great way to invest money into employee development while also getting a high ROI. But not all these programs are created equal.

There are some ways that companies can elevate professional development.

1. Start with data

Technology is not only a great way to train employees, it can also be helpful in guiding the process of what skills they need to develop. Using online learning platforms and other management systems, HR managers, supervisors, and employees can see what the strengths and weaknesses of each person are.

The data can help  employees see where they need to focus so that specific and individualized professional developments are created.

2. Use analytics

Along with data, companies can now use predictive analytics. This allows them to track individual engagement.

They will then be able to determine what will be important for development plans and who is likely to leave the company. When they are able to predict who might be leaving the company, they can adjust development plans in order to encourage them to stay.

3. Ensure effective management

In order to put these systems into place and to use the data correctly, managers have to invest in technology and realize the importance of professional development.

Companies may want to create stronger bonds between employees and managers, hire employee-centric leaders in the learning and development department, or train managers in the importance of using data to guide decision making.

4. Plan meetings

Even with the best data, analytics, and leaders in place, meetings are still a crucial aspect of creating the best professional development plans.

Managers and supervisors can take many steps to help employees create a plan that will motivate and engage them.

In order to get employees to think about their growth and goals, before the meeting takes place managers should give employees time to think of answers for the following questions:
  • How do you envision your career progressing?
  • What kind of career goals would you like to accomplish within the next three years?
  • What can you do to make sure that you are progressing?
  • What resources can the company provide to help employees accomplish your goals?
  • What are some goals that will help improve your performance in your current job?
  • What support can the organization provide to accomplish these goals?

During the meeting, the manager can use these questions to help guide the process, while also being flexible to what the employee thinks is important. Managers should also be knowledgeable about what the company can provide in terms of training, mentoring, and coaching.

As companies adjust to the new business climate and the new workforce, professional development plans are a great way to invest in employees, invest in the company, and receive a high ROI.

It may sound overwhelming to put this kind of program in place if you are not already doing it, but a little planning and investment can go a long way in attracting, retaining and engaging employees.

Guide: Creating An Effective Learning Plan Learn how to create a learning plan for you and your team.     Download now

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Ilie Ghiciuc
I've been an entrepreneur for the past 10+ years building great software companies together with fantastic teams. I like to spend most of my free time reading :)