Focus on Entry-Level Employee Development

By Meghann Arnold

Feb. 22, 2019

Employee development is a buzzword that human resources professionals and business owners alike are accustomed to hearing. It’s also a powerful and critical success strategy. When executed properly, its benefits are fruitful. Employers will find that development fosters loyalty among their team, inspires engagement and cultivates an attractive workplace for prospective new hires.

However, there is an overlooked group in professional development: entry-level, nonprofessional workers.

According to a report published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 78 million Americans — or nearly 59 percent of the U.S. workforce — are hourly workers. Encapsulating such a substantial percentage of the workforce, it’s vital that companies implement employee development programs that will focus on this underserved sector of the American workforce.

There are many reasons organizations should enact employee development programs that serve entry-level, nonprofessional positions:

Benefiting from your untapped workforce

Too often, development programs are slanted toward people in professional careers. These individuals are groomed for higher-level positions, which lead to higher salaries and increased responsibilities. Left behind are those who are overlooked by upper management: entry-level workers.

While the backgrounds of these individuals vary, more often than not they have less education and less experience than those already in professional positions — one reason why they often get passed over for promotions and development opportunities. Typically, individuals in these roles serve in jobs such as customer service representatives or manual laborers.

To offset this problem, employers should create professional development programs that are offered to everyone — regardless of position, title or experience. By changing the professional development program to a deliberate effort rather than a checkbox exercise, those who wouldn’t typically raise their hand are able to opt-in more readily. Programs that everyone can participate in push all employees to focus on professional and personal growth.

It will also help prepare the organization to pivot and shift focus as needed in order to improve efficiency. Being a forward-thinking organization that focuses on what’s next, through means such as employee development, can have a positive impact on the team.

Reduced turnover rates

When training is offered from the bottom-up, employers will see a reduction in turnover rates. According to Accenture, 56 percent of those in entry-level jobs don’t plan to stay in their positions for more than two years. Since recruitment takes time and money, investing in lower level employees can greatly benefit a company in the long term.

Moreover, employees who are offered opportunities to be trained and grow are more likely to be engaged in their role and want to stay in the organization. This is a great perk for selling employee development programs to those in upper management who are always watching the bottom line. To some, a program of this sort may not seem beneficial enough to financially back it. However, over time, the impact is evident through advantages such as higher retention rates.

Becoming an employer of choice

When a company places an importance on development and caring for their employees, they inevitably become the employer of choice for individuals looking to grow professionally. In turn, this benefits culture, engagement, hiring and retention. It will help companies become highly sought after and will attract top talent.

Even when development doesn’t appear to directly benefit the company, showing team members that their employer cares can be extremely impactful.

By implementing a robust employee development program that emphasizes the growth of entry-level and nonprofessional workers, companies will witness reduced turnover rates, inspire a generation of underserved workers, and develop into a highly sought-after employer.

Also read: It’s Time to Rethink the Value of Training and Development

Also read: J&J Human Performance Institute Banks on the Science of Behavior Change in the Workplace

Meghann Arnold is the director of team success at

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