Back to School: A Different Approach to Employee Development

September 25, 2015

It is unfortunate that the term “employee development” can so often be easily dismissed as a dry and uninspiring topic. Searching this term on the internet or trying to initiate conversation on this subject can trigger an instant disinterest and lose your audience’s attention. Perhaps this is why companies tend to side-line initiatives that focus their attention here.

Defined in its simplest terms, Employee development is “a joint, on-going effort on the part of an employee and the organization for which he or she works to upgrade the employee’s knowledge, skills, and abilities”. (Google) It may not immediately strike someone as inspirational but, the truth is, this is something that should really matter to us all – be that employer or employee– it’s a conversation all should be engaged with and interested in and, to achieve that, a different approach is needed. This blog will address employee development, not as a separate entity that only applies to the world of work but as an extension of the learning culture of schools.

Often, students are keen to leave the education system and get out into the ‘real world’, so to speak. But, is this ‘real world’ really so different? In the above definition, is “employee” not interchangeable for “student” and it still makes sense in application? To view leaving the education system and getting a job as way of leaving learning behind is a sad day for employee development advocates. Transferring from school to work is an extension of learning, albeit in a different way, but the learning, growth and development is there and it’s time people start viewing this as paramount to working in any organisation.

Let’s take a closer look:

  • Teachers pass on wisdom and knowledge; don’t employers do the same?
  • Teachers encourage students to learn independently while also providing necessary support; again, don’t employers do the same.
  • Teachers have a duty to nurture talent in their students; don’t employers have the same duty to their employees?

Looking at it from this point of view, it becomes increasingly evident that the parallels between school and the workplace are manifold. But, it would appear that employers don’t necessarily see it this way. According to a survey of 18,000 employees and managers across 100 organisations, less than 50% of employees rated their manager effective at planning and executing on employee development. (

Perhaps it’s time we broke down this divide between work and school life and connect them based on the similarities they quite clearly share. A move towards stronger relationships between businesses and secondary schools could be the key to placing employee development at the heart of an organisation, just as student development is at the heart of every school.

Kat Hodge
Games Manager

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