HR Glossary  /  Performance and People Management  /  Professional development

Professional development

What is professional development? 

Professional development refers to the learning activities an employee participates in to help develop the skills necessary to complete their current or future job duties. Professional development activities can include online professional development courses, leadership courses, webinars, seminars, conferences, and individual mentoring. 

What is a professional development goal? 

A professional development goal can be a short- or long-term objective an employee works to attain, such as a higher-level position, online compliance training course completion, new skill, certificate, or degree. Setting professional development goals helps employees progress along their desired career paths.  

What are the benefits of professional development

Investing in employee professional development for your employees supports a culture of lifelong learning, boosts employee engagement, and gives employees the opportunity to define their own career paths. It is a best practice to encourage employees to share the knowledge they obtain from professional development activities with their peers or managers so that others can benefit from the experience. 

Professional development activities provided by or funded by an organization should align with the company’s values and organizational needs. The activity should be related to the employee’s current job at the organization—or their future career aspirations if those can be met in the organization. In some cases, professional development may extend to subscription-based services (such as newsletters or online learning communities) or professional memberships that directly relate to the employee’s job. 

What types of professional development activities should an organization pay for? 


  • Professional Development Planning Form 
  • Professional Development Application Form 
  • Professional Development Policy 

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