Sample professional development policy


Providing employees with training and development opportunities contributes to the quality and effectiveness of your organization and helps motivate and retain employees.

Professional development should address both organizational and employee needs. Organizational needs are the competencies required to achieve organizational goals and objectives. Individual needs are the competencies employees require to do their jobs. Professional development should also reflect the organization's overall philosophy on learning.

Make sure you have considered both the financial requirements and Human Resources (HR) capacity required to undertake professional development initiatives within your organization.

Financial requirements

Are funds available to cover the cost of training and development? Consider how you’ll allocate the funds, such as a set amount per employee, matching organizational priorities, or a combination thereof.


Be transparent about your organization’s professional development approval process and distribution of funds. Be flexible about when your funding is available during the year, as not all employees are available for professional development at the same time (such as early or late in the year).

HR capacity

  • Can your organization meet its operational needs while employees are involved in training and development activities?
  • How many training days can an employee take per year?
  • How many employees can take part in training at the same time?

Training and development options

Additionally, organizations should determine the types of training and development they are willing to support. Types of training and development include:

  • Job-specific training - training and development that increases employee skills and abilities to meet the requirements of the current position
  • Career development - training and development that builds employee competencies to prepare them for future positions
  • Educational development - courses through an accredited educational institution (often a separate policy is established to deal with educational leave and tuition)

On-the-job training and development includes activities such as:

  • Peer or supervisor coaching on particular job-related skills
  • Mentoring with an internal or external mentor on job and career-related skills and abilities
  • Job rotation
  • Job shadowing
  • Cross-training
  • "Acting" responsibilities when superiors are away

Formal training includes professional development programs, such as:

  • Classroom training
  • Online training
  • Video training
  • Conferences and seminars

Sample Professional Development Policy

Note: This sample policy has been provided by an anonymous organization.


This policy refers to the Organization’s learning and development programs and activities.

In the modern competitive environment, employees need to replenish their knowledge and acquire new skills to do their jobs better. This will benefit both them and the Organization. We want employees to feel confident about improving efficiency and productivity, as well as finding new ways toward personal development and success.

Employees and managers should all collaborate to build a continuous professional development culture. It’s an employee’s responsibility to seek new learning opportunities. It’s a manager’s responsibility to coach their teams and identify employee development needs. Annual employee performance plans are the main vehicle for identifying, documenting and evaluating the impact of individual learning and development plans.


This policy applies to all permanent, full-time, or part-time employees. Employees with temporary or short-term contracts might attend training at their manager’s discretion.

This policy doesn’t apply to contractors or consultants.


The following are examples of professional training and development activities:

  • Formal corporate or individual training sessions (including industry and post-secondary courses)
  • Employee Coaching and Mentoring
  • Participating in conferences
  • On-the-job training
  • Job shadowing

Individual training programs

The Organization has certain provisions regarding individual training programs. All employees who have completed their probationary period are eligible to participate in external training programs individually or in teams. The Organization will set an annual employee training and development budget for the organization at the beginning of each year.

Managers and their staff are responsible for developing training and development plans for their teams, provided that they don’t exceed the allocated budget.

For external training courses, employees would be required to submit proof of successful completion.

Any employee training that the Organization mandates (e.g. due to service delivery needs or changes in their job description) is excluded from the training budget.

All training should consider employees’ needs and how they can learn best. Managers and employees are encouraged to consider multiple training methods like workshops, e-learning, lectures and more.

Corporate training programs

The Organization might occasionally engage experts to train our employees. Some examples of this kind of training and development are:

  • Equal employment opportunity training
  • Diversity training
  • Leadership training for managers
  • Conflict resolution training for employees

In addition, internal staff may:

  • Train new employees.
  • Train teams on related issues (e.g. new systems or policy changes).
  • Train employees to prepare them for promotions, transfers or new responsibilities.

Other types of training

Both employees and their managers are responsible for continuous learning. Employees should show a willingness to improve by asking their managers for direction and advice. Managers should do the same with their supervisors while encouraging and mentoring their staff.

General guidelines

This policy covers all eligible employees without discriminating against rank or protected characteristics.

Managers should evaluate the success of training efforts. They should keep records for reference and improvement opportunities.

All employee development efforts should respect cost and time limitations and individual and organizational needs.

Employees should try to make the most out of their training by studying and finding ways to apply the new concepts in their work.


This procedure should be followed when employees want to attend external training sessions or conferences:

  1. Employees (or their managers) identify the need for training.
  2. Employees and managers discuss potential training programs or methods during the preparation of performance plans at the beginning of the year.
  3. For external courses approved by the manager (non-mandatory training) the employee will have to pay and submit invoices or receipts to the HR coordinator. 50% of the cost will be reimbursed at the time of submission, and the remainder will be reimbursed following successful completion of the course.
  4. If an employee decides to drop or cancel a training, they’ll have to inform the HR coordinator immediately. Also, they will not be entitled to reimbursement of the full cost of the course. Exceptions may be made based on individual circumstances.
  5. In cases where training ends with an examination, employees are obliged to submit the results to the HR coordinator.
  6. Generally, the Organization will cover any training fees, including registration and examination (one time). In certain cases, the Organization may cover transportation, accommodation and other expenses. The CEO must approve any training involving additional costs.


Identify the person or position employees can approach if they have questions.


Reference any other policies, documents, or legislation that support the interpretation of this policy.

Effective Date

Indicate the date the policy came into effect and the date of any revisions.

Review Date

Indicate the date the policy is due to be reviewed. This will vary based upon the policy.


Indicate who approved the policy and the date of approval (for example, the board, the human resources policy committee, the executive director).


Visit our article on Drafting an HR Policy to learn more about developing HR policies.


Important: This document is an example of a policy for a small to medium-size nonprofit organization operating in Canada. While certain assumptions have been made in the creation of this policy, it is your responsibility to adapt, modify, and customize the document to suit the particular needs of your organization.

The content of this sample policy is provided for information purposes only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of HR Intervals, Imagine Canada, or its partners for any errors, omissions, or statements made within this document. HR Intervals, Imagine Canada, and its partners accept no responsibility for any loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of reliance on such information.

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