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Learning & Development

7 impactful methods of employee development

Leapsome Team
7 impactful methods of employee development
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More than 57%* of employees want to participate in learning and development (L&D) opportunities to upgrade their existing skills, learn new ones, and advance in their careers. And that number increases to 71%* when employers dedicate working hours to L&D initiatives instead of requiring workers to complete them on their own time.

Unfortunately, L&D is just as frequently one of the first initiatives to be put on pause when workloads get heavy. With far-reaching consequences: Most professionals consider developing skills and reaching their potential important enough to switch jobs if their current position doesn’t allow them to do so.

The key to developing an engaged, productive, and satisfied workforce is investing in development programs that not only support your people’s personal and career goals but actually get them excited about learning.

In this article, we’ll walk you through seven examples of impactful employee development methods you can use to inspire your own. 

*Amazon and Gallup, 2022

💪 Empower your people by investing in effective development initiatives 

Leapsome lets you build a customizable framework for continuous learning that boosts engagement and motivation.

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What is an employee development method?

Employee development methods are sets of activities designed to help employees learn new skills, improve existing competencies, and put their knowledge into practice. The goal of implementing these practices is to engage your people, make work more fulfilling and meaningful, and enable team members to progress in their personal and professional lives.

According to LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report, employees seek learning opportunities tailored to their specific career goals that help them stay current in their fields or bring them closer to their professional ambitions. So, while designing your training methods, make sure they align with employee goals and company objectives. 

7 methods of employee development

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Investing in effective employee development methods engages employees and increases retention rates

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Designing employee development methods that actually excite your people can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve put together a list of seven examples and ideas to help you get started. 

Keep in mind that there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to learning, so use these suggestions as a jumping-off point when creating your own methods.

🤝 Build loyalty and increase retention with customized employee development methods

Leapsome’s Learning Paths let you create tailored training plans to aid your team’s personal and professional development. 

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1. Mentorship programs

A mentoring program is when leaders take more junior employees under their wing and guide them through the skills they need to acquire to advance in their careers. This type of employee development program is particularly helpful for team members who are looking to build more high-level skills like:

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Effective communication
  • Strategic management
  • Productive networking
  • Long-term vision development 

You can incorporate mentoring initiatives into your succession planning strategies and encourage junior employees to shadow their mentors to further support employees who plan on advancing to more senior positions within your company. 

While mentorship programs can be extremely valuable, they’re also time-consuming for all parties involved. To keep everyone motivated and on track, make sure you have a clear primary goal in place and encourage frequent check-in meetings.

Benefits of this method

  • Enhances engagement
  • Increases retention rates
  • Provides employees with additional development support
  • Improves productivity 
  • Fosters relationship building

2. Peer learning

Unlike mentorship programs, where employees learn from leadership and management, peer learning practices establish a two-way training experience where employees can exchange knowledge and experience. This collaborative technique fosters company-wide collaboration and breaks down siloed work. 

For example, you can boost cooperation between your marketing and sales teams by having the head of sales give a presentation to marketing associates on customer sentiments, pain points, and motivations. This practice also fosters a sense of understanding and empathy between employees, which contributes to a healthier work environment. 

Another idea could be pairing new hires with more experienced employees to help them settle in more easily. Your seasoned staff members can use these opportunities to gain fresh insights from the latest team additions and develop their leadership skills. 

Finally, peer learning development opportunities make it easier for employees to accomplish performance objectives. That’s because your people can hold each other accountable and exchange valuable, first-hand information to help them attain their goals.

Benefits of this method

  • Improves team culture 
  • Reduces siloed work
  • Increases retention
  • Empowers employees and increases confidence levels
  • Boosts engagement

3. Onboarding training programs

An effective onboarding process should teach new employees the skills they need to feel confident in their roles, helping them feel motivated and valued. The result is improved performance, retention rates, and engagement. 

That’s why it’s vital for organizations building resilient teams to incorporate employee development activities into the onboarding process. This can be especially helpful for remote-first organizations and hybrid teams.

In addition to welcoming new hires into internal systems, training them on the organizational tech stack, and having them sign necessary documents, center your onboarding employee development program on:

  • Offering resources on the company history, mission, and culture
  • Developing a career progression framework for each team member
  • Conducting a skills gap analysis to identify upskilling opportunities as soon as possible
  • Scheduling regular check-ins and 1:1s in advance
  • Being transparent about salary reviews and promotion policies
  • Implementing OKRs (objectives and key results) to establish a clear direction from the get-go
  • Assigning a peer mentor or ‘buddy’ to help new employees get settled

Benefits of this method

  • Increases retention rates and company loyalty
  • Enhances engagement
  • Improves performance
  • Reduces time-to-productivity
💡 Every employee has different challenges and needs when settling into a new position. So make sure to tailor your training initiatives to their individual requirements when designing your onboarding programs.

4. External workshops

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External employee development programs give your people the opportunity to absorb new approaches and techniques

When subject matter experts from outside your organization run workshops with your team, they not only enable employees to learn new skills from professionals in similar fields but also share a fresh point of view. External instructor-led training encourages people to think outside the box and reflect on and modify outdated practices. 

Suppose your HR team is new to managing a remote or hybrid team of employees. In that case, you could invite the head of HR at a prominent remote-first company in your industry to share their best practices for engaging remote employees.

Use performance reviews, 1:1 meetings, and engagement surveys to gather feedback on the success of external workshops and discover what your team members consider the most useful training approaches. Then, prioritize those most closely aligned with your overall company and department OKRs and priorities.

Benefits of this method

  • Facilitates employee networking opportunities
  • Increases company knowledge of industry trends
  • Injects fresh perspectives
  • Encourages collaboration between organizations and teams
  • Keeps processes up to date and in line with future industry trends 

5. Microlearning

Microlearning is a more informal, accessible approach to traditional employee training that breaks down learning materials like videos and text into bite-sized sections. So, instead of assigning employees a long-form elearning course that might take days or weeks to complete, you’d encourage them to review materials in shorter, two to ten-minute increments.

Since microlearning educational content is more concise, focused, and value-packed, you’re more likely to maximize learner engagement and knowledge retention. Additionally, micro-courses don’t disrupt your people’s daily work schedules or force them to work longer hours to learn new skills. In fact, 32% of employees prefer microlearning compared to other training methods.

“Remove the barriers. Make things easy to access… [and] easily digestible. Nobody wants to take a three-hour elearning course… But nobody will bat an eye at a five-minute [one].”

— Sean McGinty, Learning and Product Engineer at
Simplify Compliance

To contextualize microlearning lessons, you can build them into a modular learning path that employees can complete at their own pace. For example, if you’re focused on helping an employee practice their soft skills, you can build a path made up of short videos, quizzes, and writing exercises that teach them how to give feedback or hold effective meetings. 

A screenshot showing part of one of Leapsome’s Learning Paths.
Leapsome Learning Paths let you create customized professional development programs to motivate and nurture employees

Benefits of this method

  • Creates more digestible training and development
  • Can be gamified with built-in awards or certificates
  • Enhances employee engagement
  • Improves long-term knowledge retention
  • Saves employee and company time

6. Corporate mental health programs

A photograph of an employee sitting behind their desk, looking at their laptop while taking notes on their tablet.

Incorporating mental health learning in your overall employee development initiatives increases retention rates and engagement

Nearly three in five employees experience at least one mental health and well-being challenge, including symptoms of anxiety, depression, or burnout. These individuals tend to report low job satisfaction and engagement levels and are four times more likely to want to leave their company.

That’s why people-first organizations need to prioritize their people’s mental health and provide them with the tools necessary to handle workplace anxiety and aid personal development. And one way to do that is by investing in corporate mental health programs and learning initiatives. 

For instance, you could partner with a licensed workplace mental healthcare provider to offer employees coaching and mental fitness classes on topics such as:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Coping with remote work loneliness
  • Stress management
  • Conflict resolution
  • Mindfulness
  • Beating burnout
  • Imposter syndrome
  • Navigating workplace biases 

You could also host in-person or virtual wellness-focused events, creating a psychologically safe space for your people to discuss mental health issues at work. For example, in 2020, Pinterest established an internal mental health community called Pinside Out that invited healthcare professionals and speakers to talk about topics ranging from intersectional feminism to surviving the holidays.

Benefits of this method

  • Increases job satisfaction
  • Boosts retention rates
  • Enhances employee engagement
  • Reduces the likelihood of experiencing toxic workplace behavior

7. Learning days 

Innovative employee development programs will be wasted if your people’s schedules don’t allow them to carve out time to learn and put their skills to use. One way to avoid overwhelming your team members is to dedicate a specific day (or half) each month to working on new skills and absorbing valuable information. 

These days don’t have to be the same across the company or even specific departments. Different teams can schedule learning when it best suits them. Then, leaders can organize team meetups that focus on honing practical skills, gamified e-quizzes, webinars, workshops, or team-building activities. 

This method can be difficult for fast-paced companies to implement. However, as learning and development opportunities are the top drivers of a great work culture and employee retention, it’s definitely worth the time investment. 

Benefits of this method

  • Reduces employee stress levels
  • Showcases commitment to employee development
  • Improves employee motivation
  • Can enhance training completion rates

Develop and enable your people with Leapsome

Effective, well-implemented employee development methods engage team members and help them expand their skills and advance in their careers. Investing in learning and development initiatives and employee management software also greatly contributes to retaining a loyal workforce, as they’re some of the main factors that influence workers to stay at their current companies.

Leapsome’s all-in-one people enablement platform gives you the tools to support your people throughout the multifaceted challenges of running L&D programs. Our software lets you create customizable competency frameworks to structure your training, as well as learning paths with automated timelines and data analytics to help you keep track of progress.

Finally, by integrating your development methods with performance reviews, goals & OKR management, 1:1 & team meetings, onboarding, and promotion management, you provide your employees with holistic training that has the power to motivate them at every stage.

🚀 Build resilient, future-proof teams

Leapsome’s all-in-one people enablement solution equips leaders with the skills and tools they need to nurture growth and development opportunities across the board.

👉 Book a demo

Written By

Leapsome Team

Written by the team at Leapsome — the all-in-one people enablement platform for driving employee engagement, performance, and learning.
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