A Strategic Approach to Talent Development Can Put Your Employees on a Path Toward Success

Talent Development Can Put Your Employees on a Path Toward Success

The latest business revolution places unprecedented emphasis on the worker, making talent development all the more crucial.

While organizations often place great emphasis on acquiring top talent, they also often fail to nurture and develop those workers once they're aboard.

Without question, an effective talent development strategy will provide employees ample opportunity to learn and grow so they can strengthen their skills and be fully engaged in their work. As many workforce analysts contend, it's not entirely difficult to raise financial capital, but human capital Ñ workers who make the most of their time, talent and energies Ñ is a rare resource that should be treated like gold.

Still, some organizations have yet to realize the importance of human capital. They hang on to ideas about organization management and value creation that took root in the Industrial Revolution, according to Martha Bird, a business anthropologist at ADP Innovation Labs. It's a mindset that views work almost like an assembly line, where standardization, interchangeability and efficiency lead to higher production rates and, in turn, greater profits, she said.

But globalization, technological innovation and changing workplace demographics have disrupted the linearity of the business model that always assumes B follows A, C follows D and so on, Bird said. That means that scaling for efficiency doesn't create the profits it once did because business today is "more complex, information is more widely available and creative interventions are more attainable," she said.

Talent Development Fuels Retention

The latest business revolution places unprecedented emphasis on the worker, making talent development all the more crucial. Many organizations now believe their people have a direct effect on product development, customer satisfaction and profitability, according to Bird. They see the importance of a talent development strategy because they believe "happy employees make happy customers."

Talent development is critical because not only do energized and skilled employees innovate and help an organization grow, but they also boost an organization's culture by simply staying put. High-caliber employees attract similar workers, feeding a winning culture that's consistently improving morale, innovation and productivity.

The flip side of talent development is a workplace that gives employees little chance to train, learn new skills and participate in important decisions, leading to dissatisfaction, burnout and ultimately departure. It costs employers 33 percent of a worker's annual salary to hire a replacement, per HR Dive, and that doesn't include peripheral costs such as the loss of the former employee's knowledge and the training of new employees.

"Those with weak or inauthentic or noncompelling missions won't get the best people and, if they do, they won't be able to keep them," Bird said. Talent development "has to be real, it has to be reciprocal, and it has to come from the top," she added. "There has to be something in it for the employee to want to stay, and being able to grow and show value is a big part of this."

Engage Talent With Mentoring and Relevant Courses

According to Bird, a successful development management strategy finds ways for employees to learn on the job. Organizations that let employees acquire and share new skills, as well as let them approach old challenges in new ways, will energize and compel workers to stay. "If the vision doesn't resonate, it's unlikely the employee will remain charged for performance," she said.

There are several ways to integrate talent development into work culture, according to Bird. Mentorships create bountiful learning opportunities and give younger and older workers a chance to learn from one another. Similarly, permitting employees to work on teams outside of their direct area of expertise breaks down silos and generates ideas outside the norm, benefiting both workers and the organization.

In addition, organizations should eschew traditional learning and development modules that often seem random and impersonal. They should instead offer high-quality, relevant online courses that interest employees and will enhance creativity.

Talent development initiatives will take off when executives articulate what their organization stands for and what it does not, according to Bird. From there, talent development should fall into place.

"There needs to be considered reflection around both the person's hard and soft skills and if these will support or distort the culture," Bird said. "And there needs to be a firm resolve to resist 'business as normal' promotions which run the risk of being out of sync with the evolving company culture."