Updated: August 27, 2022

20 Professional Development Ideas, Topics & Activities

This is a list of professional development ideas.

Professional development ideas refer to topics and activities for employees to improve their skills and advance their careers. This growth may help employees gain more confidence in their abilities and improve their contribution to the company. Example topics include workplace conflict resolution, communications, and critical thinking.

This concept is an employee engagement best practice and a worker engagement strategy.

This article includes

  • professional development topics
  • professional development activities
  • professional development ideas
  • professional development workshops
  • personal development ideas for work

Here we go!

List of professional development topics

Companies invest in their workers’ education and training to keep up with the competition and increase profitability. A team with a fantastic work ethic, problem-solving abilities, amicability, effective job prioritizing, and the ability to adapt to new situations will record high productivity and success. Professional development ideas for employees include:

1. Communication skills

Communication is the lifeblood of every company. Lack of communication means there is no shared knowledge, ideas, or diversity among employees. As the economy shifts and becomes more unpredictable, most forward-thinking organizations are emphasizing the need to have employees who are proficient communicators. The most crucial goal is to create an environment that encourages open communication amongst all team members.

As part of the professional development course on communications, workers will learn vital skills such as:

  • Teamwork: Handling group efforts, team-building events, and shared objectives. Employees will get to work as a team instead of focusing on individual contributions. Our perspectives, abilities, and expertise are all unique. You can take advantage of this detail by promoting a diverse approach to problem-solving.
  • Clear writing: When it comes to interacting with customers and employees, effective digital communication is often the only viable option for today’s companies to prevent miscommunication.
  • Active listening: Open communication with coworkers and superiors is effortless when employees learn to listen attentively and comprehend the viewpoints of all parties.
  • Conflict management: The ability to deal with difficult situations professionally. The application includes handling salary negotiations, complaints, or the departure of employees.
  • Discretion and confidentiality: These skills demand being trustworthy and fair in all interactions with coworkers, from the lowest levels of the organization up to the highest levels. You should always maintain a professional demeanor while dealing with sensitive or private material.

Career success relies on your ability to communicate effectively with coworkers. As part of your professional growth, you can learn strategies to strengthen communication with coworkers, supervisors, suppliers, and customers. You should learn to adapt your discussion depending on the individual’s attitude and how to communicate using multiple means, such as in person, via email, or over the phone. Knowing how to read and being aware of body language are essential for effective communication.

Check out this list of communication-building activities.

2. Conflict management and resolution in the workplace

In the workplace, disagreements are a normal part of the team development process and can be beneficial. Leaders and workers should manage conflict effectively so it does not negatively impact corporate operations or the team’s relationships. Understanding the other party’s viewpoint and coming up with solutions that benefit both parties is vital in conflict management. Taking a stand for what is morally correct and ethical might lead to conflict in the workplace.

A manager’s ability to deal with sensitive issues is crucial, and this training will help them learn:

  • Proper communications in stressful circumstances and being courteous yet persistent to reach a peaceful resolution.
  • Self-assessment of an issue to device tactful solutions
  • Vital qualities like self-discipline, fairness, understanding, tolerance, and empathy to handle difficult circumstances while also demonstrating a strong work ethic.

Managers that are proficient in these three areas will be ableto cope with more complex problems that need collaboration, interpersonal skills, and clear communication.

Here is a list of conflict-resolution activities.

3. Performance evaluations

Most times, a manager’s role includes doing performance evaluations. Therefore, every manager should understand performance management for workers. This ability entails assessing your team’s members, grasping their qualifications and experience, and placing them in roles that make the most of their abilities. Performance management may also include addressing any performance issues, developing an improvement plan, and addressing any bad conduct occurring in the workplace.

Regardless of one’s position in a company’s hierarchy, providing and accepting constructive criticism is essential. Your professional career will benefit if you become more adept at giving assessments to workers. An effective appraisal or feedback shows your appreciation for their efforts and your desire to see team members flourish in the future and offers improvement tips.

Although a manager handles performance evaluation, employees may sometimes need to provide constructive criticism to their colleagues during peer review. Employees will learn more about how to give and receive constructive criticism as part of the professional development program.

Here are tips for giving employee feedback.

4. Time management ideas

Employees will be more productive and less stressed by learning time management skills. There may be more time to attend conferences and other training events after finishing projects on time if all team members have excellent time management abilities. Time management skills also directly affect an employee’s work-life balance.

Professionally and individually, time management skills are essential. Improved time management is necessary to meet deadlines, manage your workload, and reduce stress. An excellent time management tool is an in-depth awareness of your habits and routines. This process starts by noting how much time you spend on different tasks each day. Afterward, determine the tasks you can outsource, procrastination tendencies, and utilize tools for workload prioritization.

Check out this list of books on time management.

5. Mentorship program

Mentors can be a crucial component of professional development. Mentors serve as a source of guidance, support, and professional connections. Firms can create a mentorship program that connects a mentor, usually a senior executive, with a junior employee to encourage professional growth. Throughout the employee’s career, they will be able to build a long-term connection with this mentor.

Here is a list of ideas to start a mentorship program at work.

6. Flexibility

In today’s dynamic corporate environment, individuals must continually improve their skill sets and be able to adapt to ever-changing working conditions. Employees in today’s fast-paced corporate environment benefit from this area of professional development. However, adaptation to a new environment and training needs many resources.

Some techniques to promote employee flexibility in professional development include network support, cross-training, business trips to other offices, peer learning and knowledge exchange, and switching departments.

Almost all companies experience change or transition, but a successful change implementation relies on the cooperation of all workers and supervisors. As the manager, it may be beneficial for you to learn how to prepare your team for change better. In addition, you, as an employee, can learn how to effect positive change or how to prepare for negative change.

7. Creativity

As part of a professional development program, creative thinking includes problem-solving and communication abilities, combined with analytical thinking to help you create and express your idea or solution. Improving one’s creative ability involves looking for new and innovative approaches to everyday situations. In addition, you may progress in this area by innovating processes and rethinking conventional work habits.

HR is a sector that requires a lot of creativity and imagination because ready-made solutions are hardly effective. Taking a position against established conventions and bureaucracy may be a challenge. Employees need to think beyond the box to ensure ongoing innovation while dealing with human resources.

Having problem-solving skills is helpful, and learning to devise solutions through innovative thinking can help you solve even the most challenging issues. Your problem-solving abilities directly impact coworkers and any customers or clients. Professional development games like role-playing or mini hackathons can improve employees’ creativity.

Here is a list of books on creativity.

8. Persuasive storytelling

Persuasive storytelling is a valuable ability for every employee who has to inspire action. The first step towards achieving this goal is learning to make an emotional connection with your audience. With persuasive storytelling, you may help your audience see yourself in the scenario you are portraying by demonstrating empathy for others and communicating your point of view.

You have the power to influence others around you, whether you are a manager or an ordinary worker. If you want to have a lasting impression in the workplace, knowing how you may exert your influence and advocate changes is crucial.

Here is a list of books on negotiation and persuasion.

9. Public speaking

The fear of speaking is common. However, employees can overcome this fear by dedicating time to improving their public speaking skills as part of the professional growth process. A company’s workers will often have to speak publicly, and this training will be vital.

You may have to give a presentation at some time in your career. Delivering an excellent presentation that encourages others to think or take action is a valuable asset. Your professional development may help you learn more about how to create a presentation and deliver something memorable to your audience.

10. Better customer service

Customer service training is one excellent example of employee development activities. Your firm and its customers will benefit greatly from your efforts to improve your customer service competencies. Customer service skills include patience, understanding, empathy, adaptability, and calmness under pressure. Professional development in customer service can equip employees with the skills needed to deal with difficult clients or how to make a customer’s bad experience better. Examples of training activities include conflict resolution and de-escalation training and courses in emotional intelligence and active listening. These skills include empathy, clear communication, excellent work ethic, and thick skin.

Here is a list of books about customer service.

11. Goal-setting

Goal-setting is one of the most impactful skills to learn for professional development. Goal-setting gives employees direction and a purpose in their profession. As a manager, you may set departmental objectives for your team and company-wide priorities. To maximize your chances of success, set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals.

12. Prevention and education on harassment

A professional development training on harassment may help you contribute to a positive work atmosphere where everyone feels secure. In this course, managers and HR representatives will learn how to deal with workplace harassment. Employees will also learn to relate with their colleagues and understand what constitutes workplace harassment.

Check out more tips on creating a positive work environment.

13. Diversity and inclusivity

Professional development may also include embracing and appreciating diversity. It is beneficial for organizations to have a diverse workforce, and inclusion makes employees feel equally important as their colleagues. This training is of the trending professional development workshop ideas. In addition, diversity fosters innovation in a company.

Here are books on inclusivity and diversity.

14. Leadership

As a manager or a senior executive, developing strong leadership abilities is a worthwhile investment of time and money. People’s self-esteem and career prospects may improve and benefit from formal leadership education. Successful leaders in your company are likely to have the following characteristics:

  • Determination
  • Team Management
  • Strategy Development
  • Decision-making

If you want to hold a management position one day, you will benefit from participating in professional development training on management. This training will help you better understand leadership styles and expectations. Employers also do well to invest in leadership development to ensure future managers are confident and ready to lead.

Here is a list of leadership skills.

15. Industry knowledge

This idea may sound like a no-brainer, but it is easy to forget. When onboarding new employees, industry expertise is essential. For example, firms prefer to employ HR professionals who undertake onboarding new workers quickly and effectively, increasing their prospects of long-term happiness and success in the workplace. In addition, employees can improve industry knowledge and learn new best practices through relevant online courses that cover industry updates, online magazines, and a conversation with coworkers from different departments to discover their needs.

16. Teamwork

At work, it is critical to be a useful team member because it fosters collaboration, encourages innovative thinking, fosters a positive work environment, and promotes higher productivity levels. Small and big groups, management teams, and even a full workforce benefit from professional development that focuses on how you might be more team-oriented.

Here are suggestions for improving cooperation in the workplace.

17. Hard and soft skills

Hard skills often correlate with the employee’s position. These skills are important for talent acquisition, payroll administration, and disseminating ideas from upper management to lower-level staff. Digital technology eventually pushes you to develop even the most competent people in these disciplines, regardless of their expertise. Short and in-depth seminars and courses are the greatest ways to learn. Staff members are more likely to embrace shorter and concise training, and the relevance lasts longer.

Soft skills deal with the way you go about your job. Communication, listening, and time management are a few examples of the many critical soft skills in today’s workplaces. Employers prioritize soft skills when looking to fill open positions because they contribute to an employee’s success at work.

18. Human resources software

HR departments benefit significantly from different people management tools. Individual employees benefit from this form of software, which helps disseminate and organize their personal and professional data. Corporations are increasingly relying on technology to arrange their workers’ personal information. Learning this skill will help HR personnel learn to integrate HR software in your department. You will have an advantage over your competition if you have some software experience. Also, managing paperwork and communicating with staff will be easier if you use specialized software.

Check out this list of HR software.

19. Onboarding

Onboarding is a must-have component for every specialist to build a long-term connection with new workers. You can better assist new employees in transitioning to a new team with this skill. You will need to broaden your onboarding abilities in light of the widespread use of remote or hybrid work practices.

Here is a list of books about onboarding.

20. Talent management

To be an effective leader, you must be able to motivate and manage. An influential manager must encourage their employees to go above and beyond the call of duty, solve challenging issues, and establish a high-performance work environment. Impactful leadership may significantly influence productivity and staff morale, ethics, and company-worker relations. Managers can improve their people management skills by addressing their emotional quotient, ensuring team collaboration, promoting effective communication and transparency, and learning empathy.

The importance of professional development

Professional development is honing your abilities and collecting more knowledge. These skills can help you succeed in your current position and even help you get a promotion or a new role in the future. Therefore, it is critical to engage in ongoing professional development throughout your career to stay updated in your field. Professional development comprises degree programs, certifications, training courses, seminars, or finding a career mentor.

Regardless of their individual skillset, specialty, or emphasis, all personnel benefit from ongoing professional development ideas. As employees’ duties and responsibilities evolve, they must adapt and grow. Soft skills are just as vital as hard talents. Organizations gain as much, if not more, from ongoing learning as do their workers.

Learn more about the importance of professional development.


Professional abilities tend to interconnect, and when you work on one skill, you are sure to enhance the others as well. Even if your primary goal is to improve your general skills, you may still advance your career by upskilling.

If you want to succeed in your career, you need to like what you do. Without this commitment, motivating others to do better will be difficult. Therefore, it is crucial to discover the satisfaction of learning new things and improving your job skills. You will be able to recognize your strengths and limitations more easily. Implementing a professional development program will help you and your employees develop, learn, and become better people.

For more references, check out training and development books and career books.

We also have a list of the best corporate workshop ideas for employees.

FAQ: Professional development ideas

Here are some frequently asked questions about professional development ideas.

What are professional development ideas?

Professional development ideas refer to specific training topics and activities for employees to improve their skills and advance their careers.

What are some good professional development ideas for work?

Good professional development ideas for work include management skills, communication, and performance management.

How do you hold professional development workshops for employees?

You can hold professional development workshops by performing a needs assessment to determine what areas require upskilling. You can then devise the training approach, perhaps through one-on-one or group sessions.

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People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

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