The 2021 BEST Award winners develop employees at all stages, providing them with learning goals and opportunities that are aligned with overall business needs.
At a large majority of the winning organizations, the talent development team has carefully documented the skills needed for jobs. However, its role goes far beyond tracking skills and competencies. At more than 90 percent of the winning companies, employees receive individual development plans, which are tailored tools that facilitate workers' growth by setting out clear written frameworks for development activities. IDPs can also help ensure that individual employee goals are aligned with overall business growth goals. Indeed, several research studies from the Association for Talent Development have found that having IDPs for employees is a best practice associated with better business performance.
But it doesn't end there. While most organizations struggle with performance management (according to ATD's research report Performance Management: Driving Organizational and Personal Growth) and many rely on only an annual review process, most BEST winners have employees participate in reviews at least quarterly. That ensures that staff are moving on the right track toward their development goals. The BEST winners also have development programs to address the specific needs of both low performers (such as remedial coaching programs) and high performers.
Further, the BEST companies share a commitment to developing employees throughout their careers. When asked about specific programs that were successful in driving learning and business results, many mentioned programs for early-stage employees. By effectively developing that group, employers can reduce turnover, create a leadership pipeline, and position the company to meet future business needs. That's remarkable, because ATD's research in Emerging Talent: Developing Early Career Employees found that, among all organizations, the majority struggle with career development for early-career workers. Development at BEST companies extends far beyond early-career workers, however, with many also offering programs targeted at middle managers and senior executives.
BEST winners likewise give employees the time to pursue their learning goals by participating in talent development programs. ATD's most recent State of the Industry benchmarking report found that, at the typical organization across all industries, the average employee used between 34 and 35 hours of formal learning (learning that happens as a standalone activity that is not embedded in daily work—for example, in-person and virtual classes and self-paced e-learning activities) per year. For the BEST Award recipients, the average employee used more than 40 hours of formal learning in the past year.
View the entire list of 2021 BEST Award winners.
BEST profiles written by Stephanie Castellano, Paul Harris, Christine Umbrell, Kristin Davis, Patty Gaul, Nathan Harker, Ariana Ponce-Jimenez, Joy Metcalf, Colleen Raezler, and Erin Strider.