Approaches to Employee Development, Essay Example

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Essay

Introduction

Employee development continues to be a major strategic investment priority for American businesses. Despite the current global economic stagnation, U.S. companies invested $216 billion in training and employee development in 2010, an eleven percent increase over 2009 expenditures (O’Leonard, 2011). This paper examines several of the employee development strategies and techniques utilized by American companies in an effort to maintain a competitive workforce.

Employee Development Models

The academic literature typically assigns all employee development models into four macro-level categories; assessment, job experiences, interpersonal models and formal educational development (Aguinis & Kraiger, 2009, p. 453).

Assessment and evaluation approaches attempt to identify a specific set of skills and abilities that an employee possesses that provide an indication of how that employee may perform in a particular role or circumstance. For example, a large financial services firm may be looking to promote an existing mid-level manager into a senior position that oversees the firm’s research and development division. A primary requirement is for the division head to be able to foster a climate of collaboration and team work. A number of assessment tools are available to evaluate a candidate’s interpersonal, communication and leadership skills.  These include administering an assessment instrument such as the Myers-Briggs personality inventory, role playing scenarios, problem solving exercises, developing benchmarks that are used to assess the prerequisites for a specific skill set and performance appraisal where an employee’s current performance is linked to the future organizational needs as well as to the individual’s professional development plans. This vital linkage between personal goals and organizational goals is often referred to as goal congruence (Thornton & Gibbons, 2009, pp. 173-177; Alston & Mujtaba, 2009, p. 264). Assessment and evaluation can be conducted in-house through the HR department, externally through an assessment center or a combination of the two approaches may be utilized.

Job experiences as the term implies, relates to a series of employee development techniques that utilize direct on-the-job experience to gain insight into an employee’s future potential as well as to provide an employee with the opportunity to acquire and apply a new set of skills. Job rotation, transfer, and externships are techniques that have been successfully employed by businesses in a variety of industries. Research indicates that job experiences strategies have a positive outcome on employee morale and motivation and translate into increased productivity for the firm once the employee learns the new skill sets. The academic literature also makes clear that all successful job experiences approaches identify specific, quantifiable goals and outcomes that are to be achieved as a result of the program. These goals and outcomes are normally linked to the employee’s professional development plan and to the firm’s mission and values (Morris, 2008, pp.97-99).

Interpersonal models of employee development are often associated with senior level managers, but this is not always the case. Mentoring, job coaching, the use of executive retreats and professional development role playing seminars are all examples. In all of these cases, experienced leaders, and in many instances company chief executive officers and members of the board of directors, participate in helping to build the leadership and management skills of an employee or group of employees. Participants often describe experiences gained from interpersonal development activities as “life changing.” These strategies have also been successfully used in groups who have been traditionally underrepresented within the senior echelons of government and corporate America (Chew, 2008, pp. 693-696). The District of Columbia government, for example, relies heavily upon mentoring, coaching and development seminars to help prepare African American employees for senior management positions. President Obama speaks fondly of his experiences with senior mentors when he was beginning his political career in Chicago. Bill Gates established executive-subordinate coaching teams in an effort to identify up and coming leadership talent within Microsoft.

The final series of employee development initiatives are broadly categorized under formal education programs. These programs are very popular and research indicates that employees value formal education opportunities as a real benefit to working for a particular company (Benson, 2006, p. 187). Formal educational programs can be provided in-house by engaging the services of an educational consultant or the employees can attend a university, college or technical institute to complete the program. Formal education can take the form of on-the-job-training, the completion of a single course or course module, the completion of a certification or the completion of a degree program such as the executive MBA. In all cases, the employer either directly pays the costs of tuition and fees, or the employee is reimbursed upon demonstration of satisfactory completion of the program.

Conclusion

Businesses that want to remain competitive in the knowledge-based, global economy of the twenty-first century have come to realize that they must continue to invest in the company’s greatest asset, its employees. Firms in Japan, Western Europe and Australia have for several years viewed investments in employee development as a normal function of doing business. Most multi-national American companies have become aggressive in this area as well. It is clear that continued investments in employee development will yield a positive result for both the organization and the employee.

References

Aguinis, Herman & Kraiger, Kurt. (2009). Benefits of training and development for individuals and teams, organizations, and society. Annual Review of Psychology, 60(1), 451-474.

Alston, Barbara A. & Mujtaba, Bahudin, G. (2009). Performance management execution for effective and continuous employee appraisals. Journal of Business Economics Research, 7(9), 261-279.

Benson, George S. (2006). Employee development commitment and intention to turnover: A test of ‘employability’ policies in action. Human Resource Management Journal, 16(2), 173-192.

Chew, Yin T. (2008). Effects of career mentoring experience and perceived organizational support on employee commitment and intentions to leave. International Journal of Management, 25(4), 692-700.

Morris, Michael Lane. (2008). Combatting workplace stressors: Using work-life initiatives as an OD intervention. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 19(2), 95-105.

O’Leonard, Karen (2011). The Corporate Learning Factbook 2011: Benchmarks, Trends and Analysis of the U.S. Training Market. Bersin and Associates website retrieved from http://www.bersin.com

Thornton, George C. & Gibbons, Alyssa, M. (2009). Validity of assessment centers for personnel actions. Human Resources Management Review, 19(3), 169-187.

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