3 Steps to a Talent Development Program That Resonates

July 2nd, 2024 – SkillCycle

If you’re struggling with employee retention and turnover, it may be time to examine the learning and development opportunities you offer. For many organizations, creating a robust talent development program that incorporates company and employee goals can help. 

“When you start losing good people, it’s time to figure out what’s missing,” says Rebecca Taylor, CCO and Co-founder of SkillCycle. “Nine times out of ten, the reason is a lack of professional development.”

Career growth opportunity is the top reason people give for changing jobs, but organizations that make strategic investments in employee development are twice as likely to retain employees, says Gallup. As a bonus, they also report 11% greater profitability. 

In this article on simple strategies to develop a talent development program, we’ll explore:

  • The core components of effective workplace learning and development
  • 3 simple talent development strategies for a program your people will love
  • How to sidestep common mistakes while creating your learning program
  • The benefits of a well-designed talent development program


The core components of effective workplace learning and development

There are a few common denominators in programs that effectively support both company and employee learning and development goals. 

First, personalization must be built into each employee’s learning journey. Avoid blanket programs that try to deliver the same development to every employee or to entire teams. Your employees are individuals with unique career goals and skill gaps. 

Be ready to communicate value and offer recognition in your plan to give people a reason to invest their effort. Once people are able to advance at work, they’ll likely realize financial gains, but that’s not the only reward that matters. People want to know if the effort is worth their time.

Finally, make progress measurable in some way so employees can look back on how far they’ve come and what they’ve achieved. Milestones showing progress can be incredibly motivating as inspiration ebbs and flows, helping people keep moving forward.


3 simple talent development strategies for a program your people will love

You’ll create a more engaging and impactful talent development program if you know and communicate how these programs benefit employees, not just the company. 

The strategies below can help the implementation of your talent development program go more smoothly. 

1- Create a community experience

A successful talent development program thrives on a strong sense of community. Look for ways to communicate that the entire team is sharing in a journey of growth and learning. This approach not only makes the development process feel more significant but also emphasizes the collective progress of the team. 

“Make it an exciting announcement at an all-hands meeting or similar gathering,” says Taylor. “It’s a good way to show you take employee development seriously.” 

By framing the program as a shared learning journey, employees can feel connected and motivated to grow alongside their peers, rallying together as a cohesive community.

2- Incorporate ongoing recognition and support

Ongoing recognition is vital to sustaining enthusiasm for learning at work, so take time to highlight employees’ achievements and celebrate their progress. Be transparent about what their efforts will unlock for them as they progress through stages.

“Recognize the work people are putting in,” says Taylor. “Show them that their efforts have unlocked new opportunities to develop and move ahead in the company.”

This ongoing acknowledgment can inspire continued growth and show employees that their efforts are valued. The result? It’s likely to reinforce their commitment to the development program.

3- Focus on core skills

It’s essential to tie any talent development program to skills that are valuable to the employee beyond their current role in the company. Instead of focusing on goals like improving productivity, present the program as an opportunity to acquire skills that will benefit them in any future endeavor. 

“Employees who feel less connected or skeptical about development may need reassurance that learning will benefit their career no matter what,” says Taylor. “In the end, these employees will often end up more engaged because of the development.”

Employee enthusiasm for learning and development plans will vary at first. Emphasizing the long-term benefits of these skills can ensure a more successful launch that considers the individual needs of your employees. 


How to sidestep common mistakes while creating your learning program

An overly rigid approach can make employees feel confined and unable to adapt to changing demands, so avoid making your learning program too prescriptive. For example, a year-long plan may become irrelevant as goals and tactics change. 

Instead, focus on creating flexible learning opportunities that can evolve alongside your employees’ roles and the company’s needs.

“Think of a learning program like a bridge,” says Taylor. “It should be steady enough to hold cars over water but flexible enough to sway in the wind without breaking.”

Avoid micromanaging the learning program. Give employees the freedom and flexibility to progress through the stages at their own pace. Instead of constantly checking in on their participation, focus on the outcomes. Remember that frequent check-ins can be demotivating. What truly matters is progress, not simply ticking off boxes. 

A better approach is to allow employees to guide their learning based on their individual needs, assess whether they build the right skills over time, and incorporate feedback.


The benefits of a well-designed talent development program

Companies that invest in their people while driving performance achieve more consistent results, have greater earnings resilience, and have a superior ability to attract and retain talent, according to McKinsey.

“Attracting and retaining talent isn’t easy,” says Taylor. “A strong talent development program will give you improved employee retention across employees you want to keep.”

Organizations that support learning and development goals in their people will be better prepared for the future. A strong learning culture helps bolster a spirit of innovation within your company. 

If you develop people and keep them in a growth mindset, you’ll see changes in what they bring to the table. They’ll have the confidence and relationship-building skills to push through new ideas. Even on a smaller scale, you’ll see employees become more capable and empowered to problem-solve, lightening the load on managers across your organization. 

A comprehensive approach to talent development can help you keep your best employees and support their growth, with benefits for all. Schedule a demo to learn more.