attracting and retaining employees

13 Employee Development Programs for Startups to Invest in

To provide insights on the most effective employee development programs, we reached out to thirteen startup leaders, including founders and CEOs. From investing in communication training to utilizing Pluralsight for technical micro-courses, these leaders share their experiences with the most valuable programs they’ve implemented in their startups.

  • Investing in Communication Training
  • Adopting the Thriving Sales Professional Framework
  • Transforming Strategies with SaaS Marketing Program 
  • Promoting Time Management and Well-Being
  • Leveraging LinkedIn Learning for Employee Development
  • Implementing Mentorship and Continuous Learning
  • Enhancing Soft Skills with Dale Carnegie
  • Fostering Leadership and Self-Awareness
  • Improving Team Dynamics with Improv Classes
  • Boosting Digital Literacy for Remote Work
  • Strengthening Teams with Retreats
  • Learning to Focus with a Transformative Course
  • Utilizing Pluralsight for Technical Micro-Courses

Investing in Communication Training

Although most people would likely point to technical-skills training or leadership boot camps, I actually think the most valuable employee development program for startup employees is communication training. I think this type of training is especially helpful for startups because employees often have to wear many hats and work across multiple departments.


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As such, being able to actively listen, properly convey messages, and provide constructive feedback is crucial for successful team collaboration and team alignment. I know for my company, not only has communication training increased our overall efficiency, but I think it’s also helped improve team morale.

Mathias Johansen, Co-Founder and COO, Guide2Fluency

Adopting the Thriving Sales Professional Framework

In the fast-paced world of startups, the pressure to achieve sales targets is constant. While traditional solutions like sales methodology training and implementing new technologies have their merits, this course addresses a critical aspect that often gets overlooked: mindset and mental fitness.

The course recognizes that to thrive as a sales professional, one must not only have the right strategies and tools but also the mental resilience to navigate challenges and rejection, and maintain a positive, growth-oriented mindset.


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It’s analogous to regularly servicing a car to keep it running effectively. Just as a well-maintained vehicle performs optimally, a sales professional who invests in their mental fitness is better equipped to consistently deliver robust results. This course offers a holistic approach to sales development, acknowledging that a healthy mindset is the foundation upon which successful sales strategies can truly flourish.

Elise Williams, Marketing Manager, The Mindset Development Group

Transforming Strategies with SaaS Marketing Program 

One employee development program that stood out the most for me is “SaaS Marketing: SaaS Startup Lead Generation with Dekker.” This program, backed by a seasoned expert with 13 years of experience, has been a game-changer for us.

The practical application of this program to our startup has been phenomenal. It has equipped our team with cost-effective customer acquisition methods, enabling us to generate a robust sales pipeline within just six months. The resources provided, such as the “1-Sheet Million Dollar Blueprint” PDF and Dekker’s “SaaS Positioning Worksheet,” have been instrumental in refining our marketing strategies.

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But what truly sets this program apart is its focus on results. We’ve seen a significant increase in our qualified leads and successful demos, all without the hefty fees of a Silicon Valley CMO. This program has transformed our marketing efforts and has set us on a path to success.

Laia Quintana, Head of Marketing and Sales, TeamUp

Promoting Time Management and Well-Being

I place great importance on selecting employee development programs that truly impact our team’s growth and well-being. Among these, one program has stood out for its exceptional value—a nuanced approach to time management that incorporates a profound understanding of maintaining work-life balance.

It’s not simply about boosting productivity; it’s about optimizing the quality of work and life. This particular program we’ve adopted equips our employees with essential time-management skills, enabling them to perform at their best during work hours while ensuring they can also enjoy a balanced personal life. The results have been nothing short of transformative.

Our commitment to employee development extends to addressing the broader aspects of well-being. Our chosen program doesn’t stop at time management; it integrates stress-management techniques and promotes the importance of overall well-being.

Phil McParlane, Founder and CEO, 4dayweek.io

Leveraging LinkedIn Learning for Employee Development

One of the most valuable employee-development programs we’ve invested in is LinkedIn Learning. 

This platform offers a vast library of courses, ranging from technical skills to soft skills and leadership development. It allows our employees to access high-quality content at their own pace, enabling them to acquire new skills and knowledge relevant to their roles. LinkedIn Learning’s analytics also help us track progress and identify areas where additional training may be beneficial.

Grant Aldrich, Founder, Preppy

Implementing Mentorship and Continuous Learning

At EchoGlobal, our quest for nurturing top-notch talent led us to invest in a uniquely tailored employee development program that has truly transformed our workforce. The crown jewel of our initiatives is a comprehensive mentorship program that pairs our employees with seasoned industry veterans. 

This program fosters organic knowledge transfer, cultivates leadership skills, and creates a vibrant network of support within the organization. We’ve seen an unprecedented surge in employee retention, as this initiative not only equips our team with invaluable skills but also nurtures a strong sense of belonging.

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Furthermore, we’ve embraced continuous learning through online courses and certifications. We’ve partnered with leading educational platforms to offer our employees a buffet of courses spanning hiring and recruitment, data science, and emerging technologies. This empowers them to stay at the cutting edge of their fields, which is pivotal in our ever-evolving industry.

Lou Reverchuk, Co-Founder and CEO, EchoGlobal

Enhancing Soft Skills with Dale Carnegie

Online courses on Coursera and Udemy are available, but they’re never as effective. So, a corporate training provider was chosen. The most valuable employee-development program that I’ve purchased is from Dale Carnegie. The training courses they offer are exceptional. They offer both in-person and online training. The courses on soft skills and communication really helped our employees grow.

Khunshan Ahmad, Founder, EvolveDash

Fostering Leadership and Self-Awareness

Our startup has reaped substantial benefits from a meticulously crafted leadership training program, proving its worth as a pivotal employee development initiative. Central to this program is the aim of sharpening leadership prowess while fostering an environment that celebrates continuous learning. 

We immerse our team members in various experiences, from intensive workshops and enlightening seminars to personalized coaching encounters. These sessions illuminate the nuances of influential leadership, adept communication, and reasonable decision-making. Beyond professional growth, the program delves into self-awareness, nudging individuals to introspect, recognize their strong suits, and pinpoint areas that need refinement. 

Because of this comprehensive approach to development, our employees now operate with greater confidence and efficiency. They are motivated to usher in transformational changes at work.

Adrian Pereira, Co-Founder, Eco Pea Co.

Improving Team Dynamics with Improv Classes

Believe it or not, the several improv classes we bought for our employee base during the startup phase were hugely important. 

First off, they act as an effective icebreaker—you’ll have no trouble asking someone for help when you’ve played a funny scene with them before. They also teach you how to think on your feet and, most importantly, think in a freely associative way. 

It can take years to be good enough to perform in improv stage shows, but to utilize them in a small group for business purposes, even a few classes help. And they’re certainly something staff love looking forward to as a chance to learn, have fun, and grow as an organization.

Corey Donovan, President, Alta Technologies

Boosting Digital Literacy for Remote Work

Paying for digital-literacy training has been a good investment for our employee-development program. Digital literacy is a highly crucial skill in this digital age, especially for a startup like ours that operates remotely and asynchronously. We found that when employees feel unequipped in navigating their jobs, it negatively impacts their employee experience, which can lead to poor performance, low productivity, and even potential burnout. 

This employee-development program was aimed at capacitating our startup employees to be capable and confident in navigating their tasks independently.

Aktug Dogan, CEO, Refermate

Strengthening Teams with Retreats

For me, it’s a team-building retreat.

This was a big one for me because I’ve never been the kind of person who buys into the idea that you can just “build” a great team—you have to be lucky enough to work with people who already have great chemistry and will put in the work to get even better together. But when I finally had the chance to do it, I realized that it’s not about “building” anything—it’s about creating an environment where your team can thrive.

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I made sure everyone on my team knew what they were getting into before we left: no phones, no computers, no distractions from each other or from themselves. We were going on an adventure together, so we should all be prepared to face whatever challenges might arise. 

At first, some people were nervous about being away from their offices or their families for so long. But by the end of it all? Everyone was saying that this experience was one of the best things about working at our company.

Paul Eidner, Chief Operating Officer, CarnoGel®

Learning to Focus with a Transformative Course

The most impactful employee development course I purchased in 2023 is one called “Learn to Focus” by Dandapani, an international speaker and entrepreneur who spent 10 years training as a monk, and now teaches Fortune 500s and top athletes what I believe to be one of the most critical skills in life. 

This course helped our team of 45 employees transform how we think about our own time and energy, as well as one another’s. Now, we treat our own time as the most valuable commodity we have, and choose how to spend it more wisely, which results in better, more thoughtful work across the board.

Brenda Manea, Senior Director, BAM

Utilizing Pluralsight for Technical Micro-Courses

We have a company Pluralsight subscription that has been incredibly useful for taking technical micro-courses. It was originally targeted at our development teams, but we were happy to see that members of other teams wanted to learn basic coding and technical skills. 

Whether for personal enrichment or to help with their job, we are happy to be surrounded by employees that wish to learn and grow.

Trevor Ewen, COO, QBench

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