Roadmap for a successful personal development day

Personal Development Day

Roadmap for a successful personal development day

Velites Blog

Roadmap for a successful personal development day

Ad hoc learning, only done when necessary, is no longer sufficient. For organizations, it’s important to focus on personal development continuously. Corporate training is the strategy of providing stakeholders with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. Subsequently, their success contributes to the success of the organization. A personal development day is a tool you can use to embrace a learning culture. In this blog, we will explain the benefits and provide a roadmap that you can use to organize a successful learning day within your organization.

How to facilitate personal development?

When employees know you care about their growth, it builds trust and commitment. They are happier, more positive and loyal to the organization. This results in retention rates that are 34% higher compared to organizations that are not able to facilitate personal growth (1). There are different ways to facilitate personal development. The first step, however, is to identify what kind of learning patterns and interests you have. Creating a personal development plan and a vision board helps you with this. With a plan ready, the below suggestions will emphasize the learning mindset within your organization.

  1. Provide learning opportunities via a learning management system;
  2. Allow flex time so you can also take courses during regular working hours;
  3. Provide a personal development budget;
  4. Offer tuition reimbursement;
  5. Create a learning mindset by setting the example;
  6. Organize a personal development day.

What is a personal development day?

A personal development day gives employees the opportunity to join one or more specific seminars, workshops or masterclasses during one day. During the day you can share knowledge and experiences, gain new insights or experience how to use your talents in a way you have never experienced before.

What are the benefits of organizing a personal development day?

Traditional approaches to development no longer meet the needs of individuals (2). Individuals have different learning needs and have different learning styles. For example, an auditory person gets input from attending lectures, while a visual thinker gets input by reading and viewing (3). Everybody has a different learning pattern. By giving a variety in sessions during a personal development day (PD-day), people are able to choose what fits their interests and learning pattern. As a result, learning becomes personalized. Next to that, learning happens best when learners collaborate. Due to the group sessions, peer learning is easily accommodated during a PD-day. So, next to personalized learning, a PD-day provides socialized learning.

How to organize a personal development day?

PD-days usually include a selection of sessions from which professionals can choose. The day may include breakfast, lunch or dinner. This is because meeting and socializing with people is a big part of these events as well. People get networking opportunities that support their development, but team building as well. Many personal development days happen are annual events, but they can be held more often of course. The steps towards a successful PD-day are:

1. Project group

First, define who will be responsible to organize the PD-day. A team of learning- & development professionals and professionals from different operational departments works well. This mixture benefits the rest of the process as the delegation represents different stakeholders with their own experiences and thoughts on personal development.

2. Date & location

Schedule a date in advance so you can check for available locations and arrange breakfast/lunch/dinner. To make sure that as much as people are able to join, keep in mind holiday seasons, year- and month-end, peak-season, and any other busy period within your organization. Location-wise, you can choose to organize the PD-day in-house or at an external location. An in-house event is convenient for learners since they are in a familiar environment and it is most of the time more cost-effective. Organizing the event at an external venue might be more expensive, but same time it provides focus as learners will experience less distraction of their day-to-day activities. Next to that, it stimulates creativity. Learners feel valued as well, which results in higher engagement.

3. Theme & sessions

Start with the overall objective of the PD-day. What do you want to achieve? What is your goal? Based on that, you can determine an overall theme which makes it easier to search for specific sessions. You can think about themes like change, leadership, team building, priority, disruption or back to the future.

Once you determined the theme, you start to search for different sessions. Think about a variety in sessions in regards to content, but also in regards to the way of learning. As mentioned, everybody is different and has different learning styles. Ask colleagues for input as well. Get everybody involved. Think as well about a combination of internal and external trainers. Colleagues that can update others on a specific project or learn new skills are as much as important as trainers with a fresh pair of eyes from outside the organization.

You can also check the formula for leadership development as a guide to see what mixture of sessions will have the best ROI.

The networking part during the day is important as well. Therefore, you can decide to start and finish the day altogether in a large room with a keynote speaker. A good start and great end will help to motivate people for the day. However, it also helps to increase engagement for future PD-days.

4. Announcement & subscription

Once the theme, trainers, and topics of the session are ready, ask the trainers to provide a brief summary of the content of their session. The summary provides details like duration and an overview of what you’ll learn during the session. But overall, it is a way to motivate people to sign up for that specific session. See it as a kind of marketing tool; you start making people hungry so they can’t wait till the PD-day.

You link the summary to the specific time, maximum of learners per session and location and added to the portal where people can subscribe as well. This is most likely already possible in your current LMS-system. If not, you can automate registration via several event management systems or you can use LinkedIn.

You can announce and promote the PD-day via several channels. You send an e-mail within the organization, but you can also make use of flyers, posts on Intranet, and the word of mouth. Get ambassadors within all layers of the organization, within all different departments. Embrace a learning and development environment.

5. Follow up

During the PD-day the organizational team makes sure all trainers arrive, learners find their way to the right room, catering is going well, and so on. You might be able to join a part of a session, but it is important that there is somebody who is coordinating during the whole day.

Analyzing the PD-day correctly, provides you input for your next one. Firstly, you review the occupancy of the session. Based on that you investigate why it was not ‘sold out’. Was it due to the topic or the training style? Which sessions were fully booked? And do you see a difference in the announcement text of both?

Review the whole process. What went right and what can be done better next time? Think about preparation, communication, the diversity in the program and so on.

As you are not part of the sessions itself, it is even more important to receive feedback from the learners who joined. You can ask the participants to complete a feedback form in which they can rate the content, trainer, communication and administration, catering and venue for example.

Download 10 evaluation tools for your personal development day.

Let’s connect

Searching for more inspiration and suggestions related to training and development? Feel free to join our Linked-In community via:

Invitation game-based learning introduction class

Do you want more suggestions on how to influence the learning mindset? Join our Introduction Class: Game-based learning in business. You’ll discover the power of play for motivation and personal development. You’ll learn how you can use games during a personal development day. And next to that, we’ll discuss how to improve your ROI on learning and development.

Learn more about our introduction class about game-based learning

Receive your format for a personal development day

What do you think is the most challenging when organizing a successful personal development day? Share it with us via the comments and we will send you a personal development day outline as a thank you for your curiosity.


(1) The impact of professional development, a survey done by BetterBuys

(2) M. Moldoveanu et al., HBR, The Future of Leadership Development (2019)

(3) D. Markova PhD., Open Mind (1996)