What is Human Resource Development (HRD)?

6 min read  |   22 April, 2020   By Laura Sands

human resources development

At the heart of every successful SME is a set of highly skilled employees.

Your business may have all the insight, investment and tech in the world, but without a talented workforce, who will drive your business forward?

Human resource development helps you create that talented workforce and is an essential element of high-performing organisations.

But what is meant by Human resource development? 

In this article, we'll explore:

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What is human resource development (HRD)?

Human resource development, also known as HRD, is the training and development you give your employees. It’s the way you skill up your staff so they can work at their best and give you a competitive edge.

It includes training your staff when they first join your SME, sharing helpful tools to help them do their jobs properly and giving them opportunities to learn new skills.

The business dictionary definition of human resource development is:

“The part of human resource management that specifically deals with training and development of the employees.”

5 benefits of human resource development

Taking the time to develop a coordinated approach to human resource development will benefit your SME in many ways. Here are some of our favourite benefits.

1. Employees with a set of skills

By creating a formal HRD programme, you can ensure your employees develop a broad range of skills, making your business more competitive.

Not only can you train them in “hard” skills such as software usage or how to carry out set procedures, but you can also show them advanced stuff such as your unique approach to negotiating or developing new products.

This gives you employees with distinct skills, ready to set your business apart from the competition.

2. Support your business goals

By aligning your human resources development with your broader business goals, your training and development programme will be focused towards delivering your business strategy.

For example, if you want to continuously delight your customers then you would focus on delivering customer-centric training.

On the other hand, if you want to be recognised as an industry expert then it makes sense to give your team specialist training and development to support this.

3. Increase workforce diversity

Strong human resource development expands your potential pool of employees.

If you limit yourself to hiring employees with pre-existing skills, you instantly limit your recruitment potential.

Not only does this make recruitment harder, but it also limits the long-term success of your business. It can weaken your workplace culture and reduces opportunity for people who may want to grow professionally.

A strong human resource development programme lets you recruit for attitude and train your staff into their roles.

And, even better: businesses that are more diverse are proven to be more successful and have better retention levels.

4. Helps you improve internal mobility & talent retention

Employees of all ages appreciate training and development. It shows them you’re interested in their development and that you see them as a part of your SME’s future.

In fact, Gallup's research found that hope for career growth opportunities is the “number one reason people change jobs today”.

5. Easier employee management

Here’s a simple benefit. By training your staff and helping them understand your business, you reduce pressure on your managers and supervisors.

So instead of correcting mistakes or dealing with misdemeanours, your senior members of staff can focus on adding real value to your SME, helping drive productivity and success.

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Methods of human resource development

Ready to formalise your human resource development plans? There’s no magic formula; you need to create a blend of tools to suit your industry, mix of employees and budget. Here are some of the most popular approaches:

A long-term onboarding programme

Many businesses limit onboarding to the first 3-6 months of joining, but they could be missing a trick here.

An onboarding programme is an ideal tool to make sure your employees get strong development opportunities.

On top of basic employer training, you can use your onboarding programme to provide employees with a rounded education and development programme that covers a full business year.

Doing this helps new employees settle more easily, can help improve their early productivity and lower turnover rates.

Career Development Programs

By encouraging your managers to hold regular career conversations with their teams, employees can map out a development path that’s tailored to their career aspirations.

So, for instance if they want to aim for a management role, you can make sure they receive specialist management training. If a sideways move into a different area interests them, you can easily arrange for some job shadowing and look out for vacancies in those teams.


Mentoring has been proven to benefit both mentee and mentor and is a low-cost way of strengthening your business.

The mentee learns from the experience and wisdom of the mentor, whilst the mentor develops their management and communication skills.

It’s also a positive way to develop your company culture and improve relationships and networks across your business.

Online training

As an SME, you’re unlikely to have endless access to internal training materials - let alone have the time to develop them.

For this reason, online training materials are invaluable. And there are so many types available from trusted and proven experts.

What’s more, your employees can access online training from anywhere at any time, making this option a great way of delivering human resource development to remote or flexible working employees.

Conferences, seminars and residential programmes

Undoubtably costly but incredibly valuable, incorporating externally run development programmes into your HRD plan can create a step-change in your team’s development.

By exposing them to new ideas in new places with new people, you inject them with energy and enthusiasm that can be hard to come by with other forms of development.

What’s more, these events provide an excellent networking opportunity, giving your employees the chance to make new connections that may benefit your business over time.

Because of their high profile, these types of events can double up as a reward for high performance or be part of a team day.


Author: Laura Sands

Laura is a writer who enjoys getting into the detail of subjects and sharing that knowledge with snappy, interesting content. When not typing away, she enjoys walks in the woods and curling up with a good book and mug of something hot.

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