Hiring is your most important responsibility, and the people who build and maintain your company act as its backbone. Your human resources (HR) department serves as your business’s gatekeeper, in charge of:

An HR department capable of raising a competent workforce is critical to every business. Meanwhile, the foundation of that ability is HR development, which ensures every employee is a superb fit. To give you a better understanding of this practice, we’ll explore its key concepts, its various methodologies, and some tips for conducting HR development successfully.

What is HR development?

HR development is a holistic approach that aims to enhance your workforce’s competencies for the sake of organizational success. It involves the design and implementation of learning and development initiatives that improve individual and team performance, and help employees adjust to their roles, the company’s operations and culture, and any upcoming changes to your business.

HR development’s focus areas

The practice emphasizes three crucial business aspects where HR plays a central role: 

  • Training and development: Here, the aim is to prepare employees for their present and future responsibilities by refining their skills and knowledge.
  • Career development: This involves mentoring or coaching individuals throughout their career planning and management endeavors.
  • Organizational development: Pivots are necessary for a company’s long-term success and well-being. It’s HR’s responsibility to support your workforce through such transitions, whether it be in the form of wellness or change management initiatives.

Types of HR development

HR development, meanwhile, encompasses two categories: formal and informal.


This variation follows a more structured approach where employees attend organized training sessions or accomplish courses and tests.

You can conduct these formal learning opportunities internally, if you have highly qualified personnel, or with the help of an external party, such as a consultant, an industry expert, or an educational organization.


This style, on the other hand, is mostly internal and doesn’t follow specific schedules, curriculums, or standardized forms of execution.

Informal HR development can take the form of skilled managers or existing team members providing mentorship or coaching their new hires throughout onboarding as they figure out how they want to grow within the company.

Methods used in HR development

In addition to the two approaches, you have multiple options to carry out your HR development efforts, some of which are:

  • Training programs: These can be workshops, seminars, courses, or sessions tailored to specific skill sets.
  • Mentoring and coaching: This involves pairing experienced managers or employees with those in need of guidance.
  • E-learning platforms: Your company can utilize existing online resources or build its own for flexible and accessible learning.
  • Job rotation: Exposure to different roles within the organization gives employees a clearer picture of their responsibilities and how they affect internal operations.
  • Feedback: Regular performance reviews help recognize an employee’s accomplishments and identify areas that need improvement. Consistent, constructive feedback enables them to act on these identified growth opportunities.

Why HR development is critical

By developing your company’s HR capabilities, your business can enjoy multiple benefits.

Increased productivity

Training and development greatly impact productivity in the workplace. Your programs will be extremely important for nurturing new employee skills and honing existing ones. Effective learning initiatives will result in a more efficient and fruitful workforce. In fact, 92% of employees say organized, structured workplace training positively impacts their job engagement, while companies with a highly engaged workforce are 21% more profitable.

Better employee retention

A lack of clear opportunities for career development is why 22% of employees choose to leave their companies. To address these issues and reduce turnover, upskill and reskill your personnel. Your workers will become more capable and thus eligible for advancement opportunities that foster their loyalty.

Studies back this up as well, with 94% of employees stating they’d remain at a company for longer if it invested in their career development. This explains why 93% of organizations have stated that providing learning opportunities is their top solution to improve retention.

Job satisfaction

Almost half (44%) of U.S. workers say they’re satisfied with their jobs due to training and development opportunities. On the other hand, 33% state that available chances for a promotion is the major contributing factor.

HR development practices address both areas, which highlights the importance of its contribution to overall job satisfaction.

Workforce adaptability

Dynamic business environments are prone to constant change. HR development arms your employees with the skills they need to adjust smoothly to these evolving industries and workplaces.

Companies are increasingly leaning more on these departments, with 82% of global leaders recognizing that HR plays a more crucial role now than it ever has. Meanwhile, 89% of learning and development professionals acknowledge that proactively expanding employee skills will help weather the changing future of the workplace.

Nurtures innovation

Undergoing continuous learning and development cultivates creativity among your employees — a characteristic firmly linked to critical thinking. These traits strengthen your personnel’s problem-solving capabilities and allow them to come up with out-of-the-box solutions.

Talent attraction

Strong employer branding helps attract top talent, and emphasizing learning and development opportunities is part of building that image. This is especially helpful for capturing candidates looking for career advancement.

Future leadership

HR development can greatly support your company’s succession planning. By constructing a pipeline of skilled individuals ready to take on leadership roles, you maximize the talent right in front of you.

Barriers to effective HR development

Throughout your HR development efforts, you may end up facing a variety of challenges.

Resource constraints

In 2021, U.S. companies’ average spend on training was $1,071 per employee. Besides the significant financial investment, HR development initiatives require time, effort, and manpower as well.

Since programs with comprehensive scopes are often resource-intensive, easily accessing a sufficient talent pool can become difficult, particularly for businesses with limited budgets.

Identifying relevant development needs

Precisely pinpointing skills and knowledge gaps within your workforce can be complicated. It requires you to look into areas that can give rise to problems, such as:

  • Your employees’ experiences
  • Their level of training
  • The efficiency of your recruitment process
  • Employee turnover
  • The effectiveness of your learning and development programs
  • Any changes in roles or responsibilities

Without a clear understanding of where HR development is needed, your initiatives are likely to miss the mark.

Resistance to change

HR development initiatives require employees to learn new skills or enhance existing ones to succeed in their roles or adjust to shifts in their responsibilities. However, with 37% of them resistant to changes in their established routines, your efforts to train your workers face an uphill battle.

Overcoming that obstacle requires clear communication and a culture that embraces continuous improvement.

Measuring impact

To quantify how your HR development efforts contribute to employee performance and organizational success, you have to establish concrete metrics and identify the activities that impact them.

Technological challenges

HR development may require embracing new tools and software, especially if outdated technologies are hampering productivity and efficiency.

However, integrating more modern solutions can pose issues, particularly for organizations with restricted technological infrastructures. In fact, research shows digital transformations have struggling rates of success, specifically:

  • 26% or less for tech-savvy industries
  • 4%–11% for traditional sectors

This can result in, for example, an inability to provide your workforce with an accessible and flexible e-learning platform.

A universal approach

Each employee possesses a unique skill set and learning style. Generic training programs ignore that variety, which can be counterproductive. A one-size-fits-all approach that fails to consider individual developmental needs can restrict the effectiveness of your initiatives and cause talent to disengage.

Lack of managerial support

Your leaders and managers play a critical role in encouraging and enforcing employee development programs. Without their active support, your HR development initiatives may be doomed, as a lack of buy-in causes 72% of business transformations to fail.

Crucial considerations for successful HR development

Now that you have a grasp on HR development’s benefits and obstacles, let’s turn to the key elements that contribute to its success.

Supporting data

Employees won’t automatically believe the motivations behind your plans. They should have a clear understanding of why your courses of action are being proposed and how they’ll be carried out.

So, before launching any HR development initiatives, research and analyze your current HR situation, then find concrete figures and information that support your claims. These help you identify problems and opportunities so you can produce a clear roadmap for your developmental goals and formulate how you’ll achieve them.

Clear objectives

Specific goals and desired outcomes drive your HR development initiatives and point them in the right direction. So, those ambitions need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Additionally, key performance indicators (KPIs) are vital to quantify your progress and will depend on your objectives. To give you a better idea, here are some examples:

Specific KPIs that denote individual productivity, however, vary by role. For instance: Do they meet or exceed sales quotas or achieve a certain customer rating? You can compare historical data throughout your HR development efforts to measure progress.

Leadership involvement

As mentioned earlier, the active participation of leaders and management is crucial to successful HR development. Besides convincing employees to buy into your training programs, they also play specific roles throughout implementation, particularly as mentors or coaches. They align everyone across all levels and guide their teams through the process, so you need to bring them on board and keep them informed every step of the way.

Employee participation

HR development works best when employees also want it. They’re the ones who’ll undergo the most transformations, particularly because of new routines and skills, and their desire to take part in your programs will largely contribute to its success (and theirs).

Since every worker has unique perspectives, their input will greatly assist in improving your approach as well.


Every organization has unique requirements, and every employee fills their own role, possesses specific skills, and learns differently.

For your HR development program to succeed then, you must take these variations into account. The initiatives should be tailored to the company’s evolving needs and in a way that best fits workers’ individual characteristics.

Technology integration

Remote work setups have become a necessity in today’s business environments, with 63% of professionals saying it’s the most important aspect of a job.

Since a significant chunk of the workforce desires the flexibility of remote work, bolster your HR development efforts with technology that provides accessible learning solutions. That could take the form of an e-learning platform that delivers curriculums tailored to specific roles and skills, for example.

Regular evaluation

You must assess the effectiveness of your HR development initiatives at regular intervals, and see how they’re progressing to achieve your goals. Periodic evaluations help you identify what does and doesn’t work, plan your next course of action, and make the necessary adjustments to your strategies for best results.

Open communication

Employee routines are upended when their roles require them to learn new tools, skills, and routines. This can result in resistance to change and hinder your initiatives, so it’s critical you practice complete transparency and keep employees in the loop.

Explore various internal communication strategies to see what’s most effective for clarifying why workers must undergo further training and development. Regularly share updates as well to avoid the spread of confusion and minimize resistance.

Continuous improvement

Unforeseen circumstances can often arise, and things won’t always go your way. To support successful HR development, be open to adapting your approach based on feedback, performance data, and your company’s evolving needs.

Tips for enhancing your HR development strategy

Knowing and developing HR development’s core components are foundational to fruitful initiatives. However, there are steps you can take to further enhance the effect of your strategies. 

Understand your workforce’s desires

Hiring isn’t a one-way street. You need to consider how your target candidates operate and learn their needs and values.

For example, if you want to accrue and nurture young talent like Millenials and Gen Zers, you’d have to accommodate their preference to experience different roles, careers, and industries. As a result, your HR development strategies would have to account for the possibility of having a constantly moving workforce and thus follow a more people-centric approach.

Stay on top of industry trends

Leaps in technology can cause industries to evolve at an impressive rate. For example, think about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on various sectors. Tools that utilize it now play a major role in streamlining repetitive processes and improving employee efficiency.

HR must be cognizant of such trends and find opportunities to capitalize on them. Being in the know aids recruitment as well since it allows you to find candidates whose skills are on par with your industry’s developments.

Maximize various tools

As the previous point illustrates, tools that help employees excel at their jobs also evolve with industries. Incorporating the latest solutions into your HR development strategy is a great way to build an efficient workforce.

Whether it be automating onboarding processes, making learning more flexible, or managing projects seamlessly, new tools always emerge, so do your best to keep up.

Match the right people with the right jobs

HR is responsible for constructing strong teams, so your development plans need to consider how to align a job with an employee’s values, behaviors, skills, strengths, and weaknesses.

Profiles Asia Pacific’s deep library of assessments can help in this regard: These powerful tools determine whether or not individuals fit specific roles and so allow HR to make the right hiring and training decisions.

We offer comprehensive solutions that cater to your HR development needs as well, all of which are tailored for:

  • Job matching
  • Team building
  • Employee onboarding and development
  • Leadership development
  • Succession planning
  • Strategic talent management

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or want to learn more.

Know how to market a role

Besides managing and nurturing human relationships, HR has to understand what motivates people to join companies. Doing so helps you grasp what makes an open role attractive, how to sell it, and identify the best places to advertise it, such as on social media, for example. This further bolsters your recruitment strategies and compels candidates to fill out and submit applications.

Build HR brand ambassadors

HR is often the gatekeeper that delivers the company’s first impression to job seekers. Since they represent your employer brand, the department must serve as ambassadors who speak highly of the company and position themselves in a way that aligns with its image.

Promote a culture of continuous learning

A resounding 89% of highly engaged employees claim their company’s culture is positive. Nurturing a work environment that values continuous learning can also contribute to the success of your HR development efforts.

By ingraining that mindset into how your business operates, your workers are more likely to buy into your training initiatives.

Recognize and reward employee milestones

HR development may compel employees to replace existing routines and workflows with ones built around new skills. This process takes time and effort and causes stress, which is why workers typically resist change.

To retain talent and keep them happy, recognize their accomplishments and reward them for their commitment to learning. Give them a small bonus or let them handle desired projects whenever they hit specific performance or development milestones.

Create feedback mechanisms

Openness and transparency are vital for successful HR development. Since 74% of employees think leaders must exert more effort to learn why they resist change, establish channels that allow them to share their concerns and insights.

Workers will not only appreciate the ability to approach superiors freely for support, but they may also be able to identify development problems and opportunities you missed.

Wrapping up — HR development drives happy, productive workforces

HR development helps companies thrive in dynamic business landscapes. It’s a company-wide initiative that affects your entire personnel, so people across all levels should contribute to the success of your efforts. To put it into practice effectively and, remember these key takeaways:

  • The right method for nurturing workers’ skills can vary. E-learning will suffice for remote workers, for instance, while those on-site can take advantage of coaching or in-person sessions.
  • Emphasizing continuous learning can improve employer branding and attract ideal talent.
  • There’s always room for improvement. Be open and diligent, track your progress, and make any necessary adjustments.

By elevating your HR development strategies, you move closer to building a more skilled, agile, and motivated workforce. That, in turn, will position your employees and business for long-term success.