illustration of employee training and development

As we enter the new year, many company leaders are taking a deeper look at employee training and development and how they can help their employees and their organizations grow in 2020. What many leaders may not fully understand, however, is that there is quite a difference between employee training and employee development.

What is the difference between employee training and employee development?

Employee training is focused on the short-term. It helps an employee be better at their job right now. Its aim is to give employees and skills the (often technical) skills that they need to be able to carry out the functions of their role. Typically, training has a concrete end goal, such as learning how to use specific software, understanding company processes, and/or becoming clear on company policies. 

Development, on the other hand, has a much more long-term vision. It is more conceptual and focuses less on technical skills and more on helping employees truly grow as individuals. It aims to equip employees with the attitudes and skills that they will need to face future challenges. Unlike employee training, employee development focuses on skills that have a longer shelf life-  skills that employees will be able to carry with them throughout their careers and apply to their personal lives as well.

Want a simpler way of looking at it? Employee training is all about doing, whereas employee development is all about being. Employee training focuses on developing skillsets, whereas employee development focuses on developing mindsets.

Of course, employee training is crucial to the success of any company. If employees have no idea how to steer the ship, the ship will sink. But what really drives organizational transformation and growth is employee development. Because employee development centers around a long-term vision, its effects run deeper and last longer. It equips employees with a growth mindset, which creates a genuine love of learning that employees want to share with one another. 

Research shows that a focus on developing employees’ soft skills pays off. A study from Boston College, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan found that soft skills training, like communication and problem-solving, boosts productivity and retention by 12% and delivers a 250% return on investment based on higher productivity and retention.

Many companies, however, are not placing enough focus on employee development. Either they are totally overlooking mindset development, or development that focuses on mindset is reserved for company elites in the form of expensive executive retreats or seminars.

For real change to happen in the workplace. transformation needs to be democratized. Access to learning and development of both being and doing skills needs to be available for every member of the organization, not just the executives.

How to transform organizations through whole person development

Organizations that combine skillset and mindset development will reap great benefits.  We call this combination whole person development. It is a focus on improving personal and emotional skills in addition to more traditional professional skills. In short, whole-person development is the ability for someone to know themselves, know how to improve themselves, know others, and know-how to help others improve.

Focusing on whole-person development is the future of learning in the workplace. To help employees reach their full potential executives need to look at learning and development in a new way—a way that focuses on personal development and professional development.

How to make whole person development a reality

Organizations need to give employees access to social, experiential learning that is focused on whole person development. Employees should have access to continuous, bite-sized learning opportunities where they can hone in on skills that they are able to apply directly to challenges both inside and outside of the workplace.

Verb enables whole person development for the whole team. We offer bite-sized learning with a measurable impact that empowers employees to grow in traditional leadership skills like conflict management and negotiation, self-awareness skills like emotional intelligence and unconscious bias, and learning skills like systems thinking and creativity. Furthermore, the Verb platform leverages things like team learning to tap into the social aspect of learning and development.

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