The best business leaders know that their employees are their most valuable resource. Indeed, how you manage and maintain your staff is vital to your success. Your approach can give you a competitive advantage, or it can cause you to fall at the first significant challenge.

As such, a vital part of your ongoing management and human resources (HR) strategy needs to be focused on effective talent development. Simply giving your employees the basic training they need to perform tasks isn’t enough. You and your HR professionals need to make ongoing efforts to build their skills, confidence, and leadership potential. This is also an important factor in reducing turnover. A recent report found that 94% of workers surveyed stated that they were likely to stay at a company that invested in their learning.

So, what should your business be doing to improve your talent development program? What elements should you be focusing on that can bolster employee retention? Let’s take a look at some of the key areas for attention.

Lead by values

While your company is likely to have certain commercial goals, you are unlikely to succeed when you rely on these alone. Your actions should be supported by a solid set of core values; ethical standards that are consistently and genuinely applied. This can help to inform and improve your talent development and retention efforts, too. Indeed, a recent report found that Millennial and Gen-Z workers’ top priorities include employers that show transparent and ethical actions.

As such, your values should feature as an aspect of employee development from the earliest opportunity. Make certain that you discuss them as a part of the initial interview process. This helps to ensure you can identify potential workers who understand and share your values. It also communicates how central these standards are to the business’ operations. Work with your HR department to formalize your commitment to values and ethics in your onboarding documents. It’s also important to design your training program to instill behavior that reflects these standards.

Most importantly, you have to make staff feel as though they have a stake in the ongoing efficacy of your guiding principles. Create an environment in which workers don’t just abide by your values but hold the business accountable to them. Hold regular meetings where all staff members are invited to give their input into the continued relevance of your standards. Encourage them to point out where you are failing to apply them, and how both your actions and the standards themselves can be improved. This can help your staff to feel a deeper connection and responsibility to your business and give them a sense of ownership of your success.

Invest in development

A great talent development program that encourages retention isn’t a static element. It has to be an agile tool that you consistently invest in. Though there is certainly a financial element to this investment, it should take a variety of forms, which include:

  • Education

    The most immediate way to invest in your workers should be in the form of formal education. This begins with participation in role-relevant courses and certifications. Both physical or e-learning approaches can be fruitful here. However, your educational investment should also reflect the employee’s ambitions. Help them to gain an education that boosts their career at the same time as benefiting your business. If your workers have management or entrepreneurial goals, encourage them to pursue Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degrees. This provides them with practical and theoretical skillsets to help them become effective and innovative corporate contributors. This is not just an investment in skills, though. It can also spark new interests that push innovation. It can often even provide workers with networking opportunities that will be valuable to your company’s future.


    Read more: What you need to know about right-skilling employees


  • Mentorship

    Your investment needs to include dedicating time and resources to mentorship schemes. Formal education can certainly provide relevant qualifications. But close guidance from business leaders can help to develop close bonds and more practical knowledge. Work with your HR department to create a development pathway for all employees to engage with senior members of staff. Allocate mentors based on the employees’ intended direction for career mobility. Make sure that your mentors understand that they have serious responsibilities. Yes, they must provide their mentees with the knowledge to contribute to the company’s success. But they should also provide ongoing support and guidance. This gives workers a more meaningful personal experience through their development.


    Read more: How many types of mentoring are there?


Embrace diversity

Making genuine and consistent efforts to embrace diversity is in everyone’s best interests. When you create a talent development program that includes workers from all walks of life, you can build a business that breeds innovation. Not to mention that the employees themselves are likely to be more engaged in career paths that they feel supported throughout.

This has to begin with your hiring practices. Socioeconomic issues and cultural biases often prevent talented candidates from pursuing a university education. Therefore, avoid limiting your preferences to those with traditional qualifications. Widen your recruitment to include those with more varied experiences and interests. One of the trends of modern career development includes moving away from the linear, and this should be reflected by your HR department. Encourage them to develop protocols that help you to connect with candidates from marginalized communities, including refugees.

Diversity in talent development should also take into account those who may be caring for a relative at home or have young children. Be open to the prospect of allowing them to work remotely or on a hybrid schedule. Regularly check in with these employees to make certain they have the essentials they need to thrive in their roles. This doesn’t just mean computer equipment and a secure internet connection. It includes office space and furniture so that they can operate comfortably and productively. Be sure your talent development program takes into account these circumstances, too. Offer e-learning courses alongside access to mentors who have experience succeeding remotely.

Wrapping up

Your business stands to benefit from diverse workers that are supported in their careers. Make the effort to invest in their development and connect with them in a meaningful, values-led way. This helps you forge mutually beneficial relationships for years to come.

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