The focus of human resource development (HRD) is to strengthen your workforce so that they have the knowledge, skills and experience to excel in their job duties and help your organization operate efficiently. Common methods for achieving these goals include providing appropriate training and coaching, developing employee career plans and using performance appraisal techniques to monitor and correct performance issues. Other HRD techniques that work to make your staff more productive include the use of effective employee rewards systems and employee wellness programs.

Performance Appraisal Methods

One of the most common techniques of human resource development is the use of regular performance appraisals and feedback. The main benefit of an appraisal is that it keeps managers and employees informed on how well they do their jobs and can uncover performance problems that need immediate attention. Managers get a chance to come up with action plans to address weaknesses, determine future training needs and learn about the employee's career goals. To make the assessment easier, you'll usually have predetermined metrics and key performance indicators so that you know what to look for.

The performance appraisal method you'll use can depend on the specific job, your company's mission and your goals for the assessment.

  • If you're looking to gain general insights on how peers, customers and managers view your employees' performance, you could use the 360-degree feedback method that uses confidential questionnaires and weighs the responses.

  • The management by objectives method suits cases where you need to know whether your employees perform up to standards for specific goals you've set.

  • You can use employee ranking and rating methods to group workers from the top to bottom in terms of performance or competency.

  • You have behavioral checklists to uncover how your employees measure up to specific criteria such as punctuality, appearance and work patterns.

Employee Training Programs

Training is one of the HRD techniques that works hand-in-hand with performance appraisals and makes the development process more like a cycle. While the main goal of employee training is to increase competence in each employee's role, it also serves as a way to develop your organization as a whole in terms of making employees more engaged, productive and motivated. When done well, your company's training programs can help you retain your talent, increase your profits and even give you a competitive advantage.

While employees do receive their initial training and introduction to the company, the training process doesn't stop there. Whether your company grows to offer new goods and services or you uncover skills gaps during a performance assessment, you'll find that you have to assign training activities periodically throughout an employee's tenure. You have some different options for your employees' initial and ongoing training that fall into a few categories.

  • Instructor-led training: This type of training can range from having your employees attend a college class with in-person lectures to bringing in an outside trainer to your office for a short seminar. It can also take the form of having a manager give a training presentation or even using a live online class. While this method offers the benefit of two-way interaction between the trainer and trainees, it may not work well when employees aren't at the same skill level, and it can cost a lot and be less convenient too.

  • Self-guided studies: Whether you assign self-paced online courses, have employees watch simulation videos or hand out reading materials, you can use self-guided study as an alternative to having a live instructor. This method offers convenience and can save your company money, but it may not work well when your employees need to learn a complex skill and have someone readily available to handle questions. The flexibility can also create compliance issues with the training if you don't carefully monitor whether employees actually complete it.

  • Employee-to-employee training: When you need to allow employees to physically observe an activity and get hands-on training so that they can perform the task themselves, you might consider having experienced employees lead the training. In addition to job shadowing and guided work, this category also includes ongoing mentorship and coaching from managers and peers. Managers can assign a mentor during orientation to guide an employee during her time at the company, and managers can offer advice during formal meetings like performance reviews or even casually throughout the workday.

Employee Career Planning

The process of human resource development also involves helping employees discover the right paths for them in your organization. In addition to helping employees unveil their talents and reach their goals, this HRD technique gives your company some security in that it can help you line up capable employees who can take over key roles as others leave the company.

The career planning process might begin as part of conversations during performance reviews when managers can assess job suitability and ask employees where they see themselves going in the company. An employee might also initiate the process and ask for information about advancement opportunities.

To create a career plan, you'll first want to assess your company's future staffing needs to determine a potential place for the employee. You can then develop a coaching plan that addresses skill gaps, begin assigning appropriate training and stay engaged with the employee during the process. Depending on the desired leadership role, you may find it helpful to implement cross-training or job rotations so that your employee has experience in more departments.

Use of Employee Rewards

While training, career development and performance appraisal most often come to mind when you think of HRD, giving your employees rewards for their performance and dedication to your company also falls within the scope of HRD. Not only can the use of such rewards improve your workforce's efficiency and encourage employees to do their best work, but they have a positive effect on team morale and retention.

Rewards can have a monetary value or not. Financial rewards include profit-sharing, holiday bonuses and productivity-based pay increases. Examples of non-financial rewards include allowing workers to work from home, holding team lunches and company parties, offering flexible scheduling and giving workers more control over decision-making.

For the most effective use of rewards, consider factors such as the employee's current salary, relationship with the company and personal motivators in deciding the type to offer. The software company Plum notes that non-financial rewards can particularly be an ideal option for top-paid employees with several years of service with the company.

HRD Techniques for Employee Wellness

As with the use of employee rewards, having employee wellness programs helps develop your employees, make them more productive and satisfied and increase organizational effectiveness. After all, when your employees feel well, they can perform at their best and also focus better on their assigned training activities so that they retain the information and apply it in their work. Corporate Finance Institute suggests that employee wellness programs can also save your company money in health care costs, reduce employee absences and strengthen team bonds.

While you could set up a private gym for employees if you have the resources, you can foster employee wellness as easily as offering healthy meal options, giving employees time to both rest and do brief exercises and arranging for community service activities. You might also give employees some money off a local gym membership or have a professional in your company who can offer mental health support.