Smart, successful companies invest in employee development, partly because they're one of the best ways to motivate and retain employees. There's abundant research to support this, including:



  • 52 percent of millennials said opportunity for career progress is the most desirable quality in an employer, a PwC study found1
  • 53 percent of millennials surveyed in an EdAssist poll said having access to professional development opportunities would make them stay at their job2
  • 34 percent of people surveyed in a Workforce 2020 study said having career development opportunities would increase their engagement with and loyalty to the companies they work for3

Here are a few leading companies with strong employee development programs that hiring managers can learn from:

Nugget Market

Family-owned grocery chain Nugget Market currently ranks the highest among major retail chains on Fortune's list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For and number 26 among all companies.4 Along with a fun work environment and benefits, Nugget Market places a strong emphasis on employee development. Ninety-five percent of Nugget Market employees say they receive the training and development they need to advance their careers, a Great Rated! survey found.5

The average part-time Nugget Market employee receives 38 hours of training annually, while the average full-time employee receives 143 hours a year. Nugget Market's training program includes an annual training camp, a "Nugget High School" program where employees go back to school for training in areas such as leadership, and annual "Return to Learn" classes focused on training themes. In addition to these highlights, development gets nurtured throughout the year through training, coaching, face-to-face meetings and annual reviews. Nugget Market enjoys a voluntary turnover rate of 13 percent, in an industry where average turnover nears 100 percent.6

The Container Store

Ranking next on Fortune's list of Best Companies to Work For is The Container Store, which specializes in storage and organizing solutions. The company's success stems from its employee-first culture, Chairman and CEO Kip Tindell says.7 Tindell sees employee satisfaction as the key to customer satisfaction, reasoning that if a company takes care of its employees, they will in turn take care of customers.

To put this philosophy into practice, Tindell prioritizes paying and training his employees better than the competition. His hiring philosophy revolves around first hiring great people and then giving them great training. He feels that one great employee equals three good employees, an approach he says sets The Container Store apart from other retailers who have given up on the idea of finding great help.

To transform new hires into great employees, The Container Store offers over 263 hours of formal training to employees during their first year, which contrasts with the industry average of 8 hours. The Container Store has an average employee turnover rate of 10 percent.


Starbucks is another successful chain that places strong emphasis on employee development. Dr. Joseph Michelli, author of "Leading the Starbucks Way," explains that Starbucks takes what it calls a 70/20/10 approach to training new hires.8 Applying research into how people absorb information, Starbucks gives new employees 70 percent of their training through on-the-job experience and hands-on practice, 20 percent through mentorship and feedback from peers, managers and learning coaches, and 10 percent from an online curriculum.

To further encourage employee development, Starbucks has integrated its on-the-job training with a formal academic program, Starbucks University. Through Starbucks University, employees can receive college credits for job-related training. Employees participating in Starbucks University also receive tuition reimbursement benefits. In 2014, Starbucks expanded this into the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, which offers full tuition reimbursement to employees who complete their bachelor's degree.9

Putting its commitment to employee training into practice, Starbucks once closed all of its U.S. stores for three hours in 2008 in order to let employees focus on learning how to better serve coffee.9 The move cost Starbucks millions of dollars in lost revenue, defying conventional wisdom and puzzling critics. But Starbucks founder Howard Schultz saw the lost income as an investment in his employees.

Recommended for You: Reduce Turnover by Supporting Employees Who Want To Go Back to School


Resources: Photo credit. (1) Employee Engagement and Loyalty Statistics (2) Millennials Desperate for Financial Stability (3) What Benefits Increase Employee Loyalty and Engagement (4) 100 Best Companies to Work For (5) Nugget Market, Inc (6) Nugget Market (7) Kip Tindell: Hoe He Created An Employee-First Culture At The Container Store (8) Starbucks' Partnership Approach (9) Starbucks  College Achevement Plan