What is Human Resource Development (HRD) in the Workplace?

By Chris Kolmar
Jul. 24, 2022

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The humans that make up a company are its most valuable resources, and they need to be nurtured and developed. Companies call this Human Resource Development (HRD), and it’s an important thing for an employer to provide.

If you’re an employee wondering what you should be looking for in an employer or are an employer wondering what you need to be doing to better your workers, keep reading. We’ll talk about what HRD is, some of its best practices and benefits, and the difference between HRD and HRM.

Key Takeaways

  • HRD is vital to helping employees feel valued and satisfied with their work.

  • Having good HRD benefits companies as well as individual employees.

  • HRD can be formal, such as official, company-sponsored training and development classes, or informal, such as mentoring and coaching between colleagues.

What is Human Resource Development in the Workplace?

What is HRD?

Human Resource Development (HRD) is the collection of programs companies use to invest in the people who work for their organizations.

HDR involves formal and informal training, classes, and other learning and development methods to help employees – and, by extension, the organization as a whole – build and enrich their skill set.

This could include:

  • Career or performance development

  • Mentorship

  • Tuition assistance for college courses

  • Employee training programs

  • Any other activity, practice, or work intended to develop a workforce and help companies build necessary skills.

Formal HRD

Formal development could be any class training, college courses relevant to company objectives, or strategic business or organizational planning. These include workplace training seminars on topics such as diversity and inclusion, harassment prevention, safeguarding procedures, and supervisor training.

Informal HRD

Informal development includes internal training classes, employee coaching, internal work assignments, and manager or senior employee mentorship. This could involve assignment of more challenging work projects, self-study, book or discussion clubs, or company field trips.

Informal training and development are critical for helping employees recognize and hone their strengths and create a stronger overall organization. Informal development works best when it is focused on content that will directly benefit and enrich a workforce. This keeps employees engaged and feeling as though they are putting their time to good use.

10 Best Practices with HRD

  1. Give (and take) constructive feedback. Great managers and leaders of all stripes know that one of the most essential internal measures to help employees grow and refine their skills is consistent feedback. Good constructive feedback helps employees stay on target in their aims and approaches.

    However, being able to receive constructive feedback is a skill that’s equally as crucial to practice. Request feedback from employees on the effectiveness of the development programs you implement. Their feedback is invaluable for helping you understand whether or not your HRD practices are optimal.

    Take the time to both give and receive feedback on internal development practices to work collaboratively and efficiently with your team and encourage free communication.

  2. Encourage learning with positive reinforcement. People love to be recognized for their accomplishments and the things they do well. Use positive affirmations to help promote employee learning efforts. This could look like pointing out when someone has done something well, verbally congratulating or praising work, or rewarding certificates for program completions.

    This will motivate employees to continue learning and growing their skill sets, but it will also set a precedent for communication. An organization or supervisor that is more praising than they are disciplinary helps employees feel happy and fulfilled about their work.

  3. Involve high-level leaders. It’s vital that all leaders and managers within your organization, especially top-level leaders, are involved in some way in your HR business planning. Involving top-level employees in strategic HRD planning ensures that organizational aims and values are aligned and emphasized.

    Being on the “same page” when it comes to HR planning helps make sure all programs are in sync with each other and learning is consistent across all levels of an organization. Involving high-level leaders also clarifies how HRD programs can help fit into the company goals and culture.

  4. Have a variety of training and career development options. To bring out the best in your employees, remember that they are unique individuals with different needs and ways of learning. One employee may benefit most from a written assignment, another will be more enriched by a lecture, while a third employee may want “hands-on” learning.

    Try to accommodate all different styles of learning for interesting and engaging HRD. Incorporating these varying learning styles also helps make a more enriching program for every individual, ensuring they’ll practice new skills in many different ways.

    Think about incorporating a variety of classes, coaching, challenging assignments, book or discussion clubs, and field trips depending on your organization’s needs.

  5. Use trained facilitators. Hosting consistent internal meetings with a knowledgeable presenter is an easy and effective way of helping employees develop specialized skills. These work well when structured in a traditional, class-like way where employees can expect to meet consistently (for instance, weekly) for a predetermined period.

    Find a presenter who brings information, skills, and practices that your specific organization could benefit from. Also, be sure to find someone who understands your organization, your company culture, and the language and communication styles you use.

  6. Avoid information overloads. Don’t overwhelm with too much information or training work all at once. Keep training sessions at manageable lengths of time so that employees can better absorb and practice what they are learning.

    Training sessions work best when held consistently over time, with enough time in between for employees to discuss and implement their learning. Slowly building on skills (as opposed to trying to learn all at once) allows for a deeper and more impactful understanding.

  7. Consider the employee culture. The work environment plays a huge role in both work satisfaction and work effectiveness. Programs that facilitate communication and team building can help create an environment that suits your employees’ needs.

    Improve morale by curating programs that fit the company culture and open new methods of communication amongst employees. Consider interpersonal development opportunities relevant to the relational needs of your organization.

  8. Recreate, don’t replicate. It can be tempting to try the same old things over and over again or replicate programs of the past. But effective HRD takes the time to make sure its strategy is up to date and fits with the organization.

    Make sure your HRD program aligns with your company, and you’re not just trying to force an old way onto your organization. Take time to understand your organizational motives and aims, and what your team needs most to succeed.

  9. Measure the effectiveness. Before implementing strategies, measure their success. Also, be sure to collect data on any strategy after you’ve applied it. By measuring and recording HRD strategies, you can help strategically plan and decide which programs are most and least successful.

    Track the impact of programs and strategies to ensure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to employee satisfaction and work success.

  10. Be adaptive. Be willing to change, and be adaptive and creative in your HRD strategy. You must be flexible in your approach in order to survive changing needs and external factors.

    The most successful organizations have HR practices that are not rigid but are accommodating of change. Be open to feedback and adapting to changing market trends.

The Benefits of Good HRD

  • It motivates employees. Good HRD is one of the most significant motivating factors for employees. It shows them that the company cares about them, and it gives them opportunities to learn new things and enrich their professional and personal lives.

  • It attracts and retains employees. Good HRD not only can be used to entice new employees to join the organization but it also retains and develops current employees. This is good for both the workers and the company as a whole.

  • It increases employee and organizational effectiveness. Good HRD creates a more effective workforce by allowing employees to feel more committed to their job and their work. It also does this by facilitating new dialogue between employees, and between employees and employers, by inviting different communication methods.

  • It improves adaptability. Good HRD helps both individual employees and whole organizations become more adaptable by strengthening problem-solving skills. This helps employees handle changes and challenges more effectively, and it gives companies the framework to quickly cross-train and move employees as needed.

  • It moves the whole company forward. An organization is only as good as its people, and if its people aren’t growing, neither will the organization. Good HRD propels companies forward by helping their employees expand their skillsets, their mindsets, and their visions for the future.


Human resource management (HRM) involves employee-related programs, policies, and practices. Human resource management is often solely handled by a company’s HR department and involves duties like managing people, administering pay and benefits, developing workplace policies, and staffing.

Human resource management is centered on the administrative and maintenance duties required to run a workplace, such as payroll and maintaining employee files. HRM provides financial benefits and seeks out productivity and efficiency from employees.

HRM is distinct from human resource development (HRD) in that HRD is focused on learning, development, and enrichment of team members. HRD is not focused on efficiency but on helping employees find interpersonal development for the sake of organizational growth.

Rather than incentivizing with pay and benefits, HRD incentivizes with the chance to gain knowledge and perspectives. Being given opportunities for personal development also helps employees feel like valued and respected members of a team.

Finally, while HRM is the HR department’s responsibility, HRD is the responsibility of all company leaders. All managers are responsible for planning and organizing development opportunities for their workforce.

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Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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Topics: Life At Work