illustration of employee training and development

With work continuing to evolve, many company leaders are taking a deeper look at employee training and development to help with engagement, retention, and hiring.

What many leaders may not fully understand, however, is that there is an important difference between employee training and employee development.

What is the difference between employee training and employee development?

Employee training focuses on the short-term.

It helps an employee be better at their job right now. Its aim is to give employees the skills (often technical skills) that they need 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, or becoming clear on company policies. 

On the other hand, employee development 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 needed 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 throughout their careers and apply to their personal lives as well.

Differentiating between employee training and employee development

Want a simpler way of looking at it?

Employee training is all about doing, and employee development is more about being. Employee training focuses on developing skill sets, 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, creating a genuine love of learning that employees want to share. 

Research shows that a focus on developing employees’ human skills pays off. A study from Boston College, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan found that human 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 leadership development or reserve it for those already in high-level leadership positions in the form of expensive executive retreats or seminars.

Transformation needs to be democratized for real change to happen in the workplace. Access to learning and development of both human and technical skills needs to be available for every member of the organization, not just the executives.

How to transform organizations through human-centered leadership

Organizations that combine skillset and mindset development will reap the benefits. This combination defines human-centered leadership. It is focused on improving personal and emotional skills, in addition to more traditional professional skills.

Human-centered leadership is the ability for someone to know themselves, know how to improve themselves, know others, and know how to help others improve.

Focusing on human-centered leadership 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 that focuses on personal development and professional development.

How to make human-centered leadership a reality

Organizations need to give employees access to social, experiential learning, focused on developing human-centered capabilities.

Employees should have access to continuous, bite-sized learning opportunities where they can hone in on skills that apply directly to challenges both inside and outside of the workplace.

Verb’s leadership development platform activates employees to become human-centered leaders. Verb’s bite-sized, actionable lessons provide on-demand, on-the-job support as well as structured learning paths.

The proprietary library includes over 100 hours of micro-learning content on topics such as leading teams, self-awareness, growth mindset, feedback, collaboration, DEI&B, and more, to help companies like yours make human-centered leadership a reality.


Interested in how Verb can help with your organization’s employee development? Check out a quick virtual tour of the Verb platform.

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