Employee development vs employee training

June 25, 2024 By Kit Germeroth

In today’s competitive business landscape – where investing in your workforce is more crucial than ever — understanding the distinction between employee development and employee training is essential for creating a productive and engaged team. While both enhance skills and performance, they differ in scope, objectives, and outcomes. 

In this article, we look at employee development vs employee training, offering insights into how each can benefit your organization and drive long-term success.

What is employee development?

Employee development — also known as learning and development, staff development, or professional development — encompasses any professional advancement or continuing education completed by a worker with the support of their employer. It includes a variety of learning opportunities such as higher education courses, professional certifications, workshops, seminars, and mentorship programs.

Staff development ensures that team members’ skills continue to align with industry trends and best practices. However, rather than building an employee’s skill set for a specific role, employee development allows workers to expand their skills and knowledge beyond their current position, enhancing their future career prospects. 

While professional development is ultimately the responsibility of the employee, it benefits employers to facilitate this growth by providing access to both internal and external development opportunities. This approach leads to a number of benefits, including increased employee satisfaction, higher retention rates, improved performance, and greater revenue for the organization.

What is employee training?

Employee training is a structured series of activities for workers to follow to enhance their job performance and contribute to organizational growth. This training — which can include technical, vocational, and management skills — ensures that employees are equipped to meet the demands of their roles and the evolving needs of their company. 

Employee training programs are often short-term and task-oriented, with a focus on solving immediate problems and enhancing the organization’s operational capacity. 

By investing in employee training, employers benefit from fewer workplace accidents and issues, easier implementation of tools, increased productivity, and better revenue margins. For employees, this kind of training bridges educational gaps, improves their immediate performance and productivity, and often instills a sense of confidence, empowering them to tackle challenges with assurance and motivation.

What are the differences between employee development and employee training?

While employee development and employee training are both essential to the ongoing success of an organization, it can help to understand what each of them represents through direct employee development vs training comparisons: 

Holistic approach vs immediate skills

A key difference between employee development and training is the overall approach. While professional development takes a more holistic view of helping an employee improve and advance, employee training focuses on teaching them the immediate skills they need to fulfill the requirements of their role. 

As such, employee development provides workers with new skills that will serve them throughout their entire careers while also enhancing their individual growth. This can mean improving the kinds of soft skills that they’ll need in every role, such as communication and compromise, rather than just the hard skills they’ll need to succeed today. 

In contrast, employee training focuses on providing workers with the skills they’ll need in a specific role to complete their tasks as efficiently as possible. For example, the onboarding process usually involves extensive employee training in the software that will impact their role as well as organizational best practices, while training programs for existing employees often focus on filling skills gaps.  

Long-term vs short-term

Another significant difference between employee development and training is the timeframe. Employee development aims to help workers grow and change over time, while employee training is a more short-term route to improving their immediate performance. 

By taking a long-term view, employee development allows organizations and employees alike to consider their long-term goals and to address these through structured, ongoing development. 

Employee training is often driven by a need for immediate results. As such, employers should focus on the current needs of the business and what resources and training are necessary to improve employee skills in the short term. 

Growth vs action

When comparing the two, it can help to view development as a process that helps them grow to become better workers, while employee training is the action they need to take to do better work. 

Professional development can help employees work better, but it goes one step further by expanding their view beyond their current position, allowing them to develop and grow into new specialties and roles. In the meantime, employee training supports this by giving employees the immediate tools and resources they need to do their jobs well, propelling them into the kind of action necessary for inspiring future growth.

Ongoing vs time-bound

One final crucial difference between employee development and employee training is that, while development is an ongoing process, employee training only happens for a limited period. 

Employee development is based on the concept of continuous learning. Although this development will include courses and workshop sessions that run for a specific length of time, employee development as a concept is never “done”. There will always be new needs in the organization, new goals to work toward, and new career paths to explore. 

Employee training has one goal — to teach employees specific skills before a certain time or date. Whether it’s an hour-long training session on a new software feature or a six-week course for a new hire, employee training is always time-bound. 

Examples of employee development and training

Now that we’ve covered some of the main differences, here are some examples of what these differences look like in practice:

Enhancing technical proficiency

  • Training: An employee takes a short course to learn how to use a new feature in the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system. This is a specific, job-related task meant for immediate application.
  • Development:  An employee enrolls in an extensive course to learn a new programming language, which will open up new project opportunities and enhance their long-term career prospects.

Improving communication skills

  • Training: An employee attends a one-day workshop on effective email communication to improve their writing skills for current projects and client interactions. This is focused on immediate improvements in daily work tasks.
  • Development: An employee participates in a comprehensive six-month communication skills program that includes public speaking, negotiation, and conflict resolution. This aims to broaden their capabilities for future leadership roles and long-term career growth.

Strengthening leadership abilities

  • Training: An employee participates in a one-day leadership workshop that covers essential team management techniques and conflict resolution strategies to be applied in their current supervisory role.
  • Development: An employee enrolls in a year-long leadership development program that includes mentorship, strategic planning, and advanced management training, preparing them for future executive positions and broadening their career horizons.

Why invest in both employee development and employee training

Employee training and development complement each other to create a skilled and motivated workforce. 

While training equips employees with the specific skills needed for their current roles, enhancing productivity and job performance, development focuses on broader career growth by preparing employees for future challenges and encouraging long-term loyalty and adaptability. 

Together, they ensure that employees are not only proficient in their immediate tasks but also ready to evolve with the organization, driving sustained success and competitive advantage.

Creating effective and impactful training and development programs is key to maximizing the benefits for both you and your employees. With Moodle Workplace, you can easily design, deliver, and track comprehensive learning experiences tailored to your organization’s needs.

Unlock your workforce’s full potential

Get in touch today to learn how Moodle can optimize your employee training and development programs.